The second half of the season kicks off tonight, and there are some fantastic matchups to get things re-started. Pittsburgh visits Cincinnati for a huge three game weekend series, Boston and New York renew one of the sports best rivalries as each try to keep pace in the hyper-competitive AL East, and the Los Angeles Angels get a chance to sneak back into the picture with three games at home against division leader Oakland.
The American League won home field advantage in what was, Mariano’s touching reception aside, one of the most boring All-Star Games I can recall, so let’s start our second half of the season with a team that might have cared (and benefited) most from the AL’s performance.
Detroit Tigers -128 at Kansas City Royals +121 (Total: 8.5)
Anabal Sanchez (7-6, 2.93 ERA) vs. Ervin Santana (5-6, 3.37 ERA)
It must have been an interesting set of emotions as Jim Leyland send Mariano Rivera to the mound in the 8th inning of the All-Star Game; part of him surely relished the chance to be part of such a classic send-off tribute, but a larger part of him had to think “you know… if you wanted to come to Detroit for a few months, I can give you an even BETTER send off…”
Leyland, and most folks in baseball, probably realize that with a shut-the-door closer, the Tigers would be the best team in baseball. Their offense is world class, their starting pitching is ridiculous when you consider either Sanchez or Fister might not even get the BALL in a short playoff series, but their bullpen has saddled them and is a big reason they are still in a divisional fight with Cleveland. Their 4.15 ERA is 12th in the American League, and their 8-16 record is the second worst by percentage, ahead of only the hapless Houston Astros.
Because of that bullpen, you always have to be a little wary wagering the Tigers against a good starting pitcher. The Royals have gotten a good season out of Ervin Santana thus far, and he has quality stuff, but I still like Detroit to open the second half of the season with a bang. The Royals offense will likely struggle against Sanchez, and I like Cabrera and crew to give enough of a cushion to lock down the win.
The Tigers are my pick in the second half of the season to come on strong and win the American League. They are a bullpen arm away from being ridiculously good, so I’d expect them to be very active and successful in the trade deadline.
In the meantime, I like them tonight at a decent value of just -128 with a sub-three ERA starter and that potent offense backing him up.
Free Pick: Detroit Tigers to WIN -128