We notched another winner with last night’s lone MLB pick between the Reds and Giants. In fact, it came easy.
We had the Over 7.5 in that one at quality +100 odds, and we hit it with ease as four first-inning homers — two from each club — scored eight first-inning runs. In other words, we had our Over just one inning into that one and could take the rest of the night off.
Those are precisely the kind of winners you want as we’ll look to stay hot with this Tigers vs. Astros MLB Pick from Houston!
- Season Record: 4-1
- Units: +2.88
Tigers vs. Astros Betting Odds
- Tigers (+197)
- Astros (-216)
- Tigers +1.5 (+103)
- Astros -1.5 (-123)
- Over 9 (+105)
- Under 9 (-125)
Tigers vs. Astros MLB Pick Breakdown
Making his first start of the 2021 season is right-hander Michael Fulmer as he comes from the bullpen and fills the vacated rotation spot left by the injured Julio Teheran.
Fulmer — the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year — failed to crack the rotation thanks to a rough spring on the heels of what was a disastrous 2020 season. Fulmer missing all of the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery, but retuned with more than enough rust. Fulmer was limited to three innings — often less due to his results — in each of his starts, but was pounded to the tune of an 8.78 ERA while his 6.91 FIP, 5.66 xFIP and 7.98 xERA don’t exactly look much prettier.
He was clobbered by the long ball with a 2.60 HR/9 as he saw his ground-ball rate fall all the way to just 36% after beginning his career right around 50% in each of his first two seasons.
Fulmer has made three appearances out of the Tigers’ bullpen this season spanning seven innings, and he’s done well with a 2.57 ERA/2.67 xERA. Additionally, he’s racked up a 12.86 K/9 and has yet to walk a batter in those seven frames, although he has allowed a homer in each of his last two outings spanning six innings.
Certainly, Fulmer will look to return to previous form here in 2021. He worked to a 3.06 ERA/3.76 FIP as a rookie and a 3.83 ERA/3.67 FIP as a sophomore in 2017, but has since fallen on much tougher times as he looks to get his velocity back along with his spot in the Tigers’ rotation in this one.
The Tigers’ offense has stolen the show so far through two games in this series, especially last night when they launched five home runs as part of their 8-2 rout of the home side.
Don’t look now but the Tigers rank second in all of baseball with 19 home runs on the season and fifth with a .201 isolated power (ISO). However, much of their production as come via the gopher ball as they also rank 23rd with a .220 team average on the season and are still dealing with strikeout issues with a 27.3% mark on the season, a similar mark that saw them finish last in strikeout rate in each of the last two seasons.
For now, they’re rolling. They’ve scored 14 runs through two games this series and even roughed up Zack Greinke in the opener on Monday. The story of the Tigers’ 2021 season — and one of the top stories in all of baseball — as been the emergence of 22-year-old Rule 5 pick Akil Baddoo who has homered twice and doubled in this series as part of his four homers, 1.443 OPS, .577 wOBA and 275 wRC+ through the first 25 trips to the plate of his big-league career. He last appeared in High-A ball in 2019, hitting .214 before undergoing Tommy John surgery. What a story.
Catcher Wilson Ramos has also made plenty of noise as he homered twice last night and leads all of baseball with six on the young season. First baseman Renato Nunez didn’t make the team out of spring training, but has homered twice in three game since being called up with Miguel Cabrera hitting the IL with a bicep injury.
They’ve flexed plenty of muscle in this series, but they’ve been an inconsistent group as well so we’ll see if the power continues tonight in the finale.
Here’s what is currently preventing the Tigers from making more noise in the AL Central this season. Their starting pitching has been decent and the offense is hovering around the top 10 overall at the moment, but the bullpen has been a major issue.
Indeed, the Tigers enter this one sporting an MLB-worst 7.07 ERA while their 6.05 FIP and 4.85 xFIP aren’t any good, either. Their xFIP is much lower than the ERA given the fact this bullpen has allowed home runs on 20% of fly-balls allowed and own an MLB-worst 2.57 HR/9, but this group has also been hit harder than all but one other bullpen in baseball by way of their Statcast 47.5% hard-hit rate against.
It’s a bullpen without an identity. They don’t have a closer and while many teams are now closing by committee as well, there hasn’t been a go-to guy for manager A.J. Hinch in a tough spot, perhaps save for fire-balling lefty Gregory Soto who is currently the team’s most reliable reliever on a consistent basis.
Additionally, with Fulmer now in the rotation, the bullpen has lost a reliable arm that has worked to a 2.57 ERA out of the ‘pen with a bullpen-high seven innings pitched so far.
Making his third start of the 2021 season is right-hander Lance McCullers Jr as he looks to build on a pair of excellent outings to begin his season.
McCullers has produced nearly identical lines in two starts against the A’s this season. He worked five innings in both, allowed just two hits, three walks and one earned run in both while striking out a combined 13 (6 and 7) in those outings. He did allow a homer for the only damage done his last time out.
They’ll need him this season. With Justin Verlander out for the season and Framber Valdez potentially out for the season as well, McCullers becomes a big piece of the success of this club, if he wasn’t already. Any regression from Greinke at 37 years of age magnifies McCullers’ importance.
He’s coming off a fine 3.93 ERA/3.70 FIP from the 2020 season after missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery. The six walks in 10 innings have been an issue, but his 11.70 K/9 is more towards what he did pre-Tommy John while he’s always been able to keep in the ball in the yard with a career 0.71 HR/9 clip.
One thing to note with McCullers as well are the home/road splits that greatly favor Minute Maid Park in Houston. He owns a career 4.93 ERA on the road, but a dynamite 2.50 mark at home. Pick any stat you’d like whether it be home runs, walks, strikeouts, FIP, xFIP etc., and his home numbers are notably superior at home than on the road.
We’ll see if the home cookin’ can continue in this one tonight.
The Astros began the season white-hot at the plate, but they’ve sure been quieted so far this series.
Casey Mize and Matt Boyd opened the series with a couple gems and despite the bullpen struggling a bit after them, the Tigers have held Houston to just two runs in each of the two games so far this series.
In fact, the Astros have averaged just 2.25 runs per game over their last four now as they’ve scored two runs in three of their last four and just three in the other.
Even with the current slump, however, the Astros rank third in baseball with a .350 wOBA on the season and second with a .204 ISO. They’ve once again been extremely difficult to strike out with a 19% K-rate on the season and their 18 home runs rank third in the league behind only the Tigers and Reds (20).
Although George Springer departed for the Blue Jays in free agency, the team still boasts an elite top-five of Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa. All five of those bats have raked early while six-hole hitter Yuli Gurriel has actually been the best of the bunch in the early going.
I would suggest it’s only a matter of time before the Astros get the sticks going once again.
Like their rotation, the Astros’ bullpen has seen plenty of turnover over the last couple of years.
The once-elite group from 2017, 2018 and 2019 slipped into the middle of the pack at 15th with a 4.39 ERA in the shortened 2020 season, but they’ve been solid so far at 13th with a 4.03 ERA on the season.
They’ve received tidy work from both Ryan Pressly and Luis Garcia who have yet to allow an earned run in 8.1 combined innings of work while Ryne Stanek has proven to be a worthwhile addition with a 1.50 ERA across his six innings of work so far.
It may not be the elite, deep group that it was even a couple of years ago, but this group needs to be good for this Astros club to make a run for an NL West crown given the general lack of starting pitching here this season.
Tigers vs. Astros MLB Pick
It’s been all Tigers through the first two games of the series, but I believe this one will be different.
The pitching matchup greatly favors the Astros with McCullers opposite Fulmer. While Fulmer has been good out of the bullpen, he was roughed up badly last season and again as a starter in spring training.
For his part, McCullers has been excellent this season, but it’s his pure dominance at Minute Maid Park that has me all over the Astros in this one, not to mention the fact the Tigers bullpen continues to struggle as they’ve allowed three of the four Astros runs in this series.
Add in the fact these Houston bats are not going to be held in check much longer and I am on the Astros here, but on the run line at -123 odds.