We are back on a nice roll, as Houston’s sweet -1.5 Run Line paid off in a big way at +110 on Tuesday evening. Let’s make it four in a row as we jump to tonight’s matchup, a showdown at Comerica Park between the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers.
Kansas City absolutely wrecked the Tigers in this very matchup a week ago, as Michael Fulmer (who toes the rubber tonight) got blasted to the tune of 8 hits and 5 runs over 2.2 innings. The Royals got to him early and never relented, eventually hanging a whopping 16 runs on Detroit. It’s a little more startling consider that game went down at Kauffman Stadium and now a hot Kansas City team will look to inflict more damage in the more hittable Comerica Park.
That doesn’t necessarily make for a knee-jerk backing of KC. Fulmer is still one of the more balanced arms in the league and is in front of his home crowd. The Tigers are also favored, so we need to be sure to look at this one from all angles before taking a side. Let’s dive into this showdown and see where the most MLB betting value lies:
Kansas City Royals (+125) @ Detroit Tigers (-145) Total: 8.5
Danny Duffy (6-6, 3.71 ERA) vs. Michael Fulmer (10-7, 3.35 ERA)
There are three pretty vital pieces of information we need to hone in on; the Tigers traded away J.D. Martinez a week ago and could be giving up on their season, Michael Fulmer got blasted in this matchup a week ago and the Royals (won 6 straight) are suddenly one of the hotter teams in baseball. I know, I know, trusting in Kansas City’s offense is never easy, but the Royals are 7-3 over their last 10 games and are suddenly 1.5 games out of first place in the AL Central.
Are the Royals for real? It’s hard to tell, as their recent success has come against Tigers and White Sox. Kansas City does have some promise in this matchup, though. The power they do have gets a boost with a positive park shift, while Danny Duffy hypothetically gives them a top level arm to match wits with Fulmer. That’s if Fulmer is even up to the challenge of silencing a Royals offense that has nestled into a nice groove (5+ runs in five straight games) and battered him last time out.
Fulmer is a steady arm that can usually be trusted, but the last time he gave up 5 runs he followed that performance up with another dud (5 more runs). He also endures most of his struggles at the hittable Comerica Park, where he owns a strong 6-2 record and holds batters to a collective .234 batting average, but sports a wishy washy 3.72 ERA. Obviously that ERA isn’t a death sentence by any means, but it also isn’t encouraging as he sets out to silence a team that just handled him with ease. History isn’t kind to pitchers facing the same offenses within a week, either.
The splits don’t hurt Fulmer is we look at the general numbers. Kansas City lacks reliable, collective pop (18th in home runs) versus righties and they rank just 17th in batting average. However, they are patient and efficient at the plate (6th least Ks in MLB), which is how they can get you into trouble. They also have a few bats – Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez, specifically – that can get after the ball when facing righties. Moose just crushed his 29th dong of the year last night and refuses to slow down. Facing Fulmer in a hitter’s park with ideal splits, he’s a strong candidate to make tonight difficult for the opposing hurler.
Fulmer has handled the Royals in the past and could easily rebound in this spot at home, but we need to note Kansas City’s momentum, the park upgrade for their offense and how they fared against Fulmer just a week ago.
Kansas City’s case builds when we look at the other side, as Danny Duffy isn’t enjoying an elite 2017 campaign, yet has still managed games and largely kept offenses in check. Duffy has monster strikeout upside and can dominate the best of offenses when he’s dialed in, which naturally makes him a huge asset for a tough road game tonight. It doesn’t hurt that the Tigers traded away one of their best lefty mashers in Martinez. Detroit is still stacked with right-handed hitters that crush southpaws, but Duffy could exploit their shaky efficiency (8th most strikeouts in MLB). Duffy struggled in this same matchup a week ago, but given his superior K upside to Fulmer, might be the easier pitcher to back.
Ultimately, we’re looking at a borderline wash. Both pitchers have a lot of talent and can take over this game, but neither pitched particularly well the last time these two teams faced off. The splits favor the Tigers a bit more, but they also strike out way more and are a regressing unit as a whole. Given Kansas City’s recent hot run and the value we get with them, we’ll ride the wave and back the Royals, straight up.