Tigers-Pirates Preview

NICELY TIMED INTERLEAGUE SHOWDOWN FINDS DETROIT AND PITTSBURGH IN TIGHT RACES

In some years, a series like Detroit/Pittsburgh wouldn’t even get noticed. Pittsburgh was off-the-radar for a couple of decades. And, the media tends to focus on Interleague matchups “on the coast” rather than in the midsection of the country. This week’s four-game set (two in Pittsburgh, followed by two in Detroit) suddenly looms very large because BOTH teams are in tight Central divisional races.

  • Detroit has once again seen its lead trimmed in the AL Central because the Kansas City Royals got red hot. What had been the safest lead in the majors is now in nailbiter mode.
  • Pittsburgh is in a neck-and-neck-and neck race with Milwaukee and St. Louis in the NL Central. It’s possible that all three of those will play in October given how Wildcard threats Atlanta and San Francisco in other divisions are fading. But, it’s also possible that only the divisional winner survives the regular season. The Wildcard picture is jammed!

With that backdrop, let’s go day-by-day through the Tigers/Pirates four-game showdown…

OFFENSE
Detroit: 4.59 runs per game, .327 on-base, .429 slugging
Pittsburgh: 4.21 runs per game, .332 on-base, .392 slugging

It’s important for you to know that we have a pair of elite offenses here. You already know that Detroit can slug. It’s a very under-reported story this year that Pittsburgh has a potent offense. Think about this, they have a higher on-base percentage than Detroit even though they have pitchers bat instead of a Designated Hitter! They are roughly similar at run-scoring if you make an adjustment for the pitcher/DH dynamic. Detroit still has more power. Pittsburgh made a playoff run last year because of pitching. This year, their offense is carrying more weight.

MONDAY’S PITCHERS
Justin Verlander: 4.57 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 6.6 K-Rate
Jeff Locke: 3.78 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 6.2 K-Rate

Verlander has thrown quality starts in seven of his last nine outings…but isn’t seeing his ERA fall much because he’s still allowing runs on a regular basis. Teams score at least 2-3 runs…he goes at least 6 innings…and it’s a quality start, but not a classic Verlander gem. Locke has only made 12 starts this year, and has shown a tendency to shut down bad offenses but struggle in good hitting environments. His home park will help tonight, but facing Detroit’s offense might be too much for him. Might be worth thinking about the Over given the recent lack of “shutdown” showcases for these pitchers and the production of these offenses.

TUESDAY’S PITCHERS
Rick Porcello: 3.09 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 5.6 K-Rate
Edinson Volquez: 3.70 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 6.1 K-Rate

Porcello has knocked a run off his ERA over the last seven weeks with a slew of stellar outings. He’s not overpowering, as that low K-Rate suggests. But, opponents can’t figure out how to make solid contact. He’s had ace caliber stats during this great stretch, making that Tigers rotation even more potent than realized for postseason purposes. It seems like a miracle that Volquez can post an ERA under four and a WHIP under 1.3. That’s a mix of “year of the pitcher”, “home pitcher’s park,” and “inferior league.” He’d get rocked in the AL…and he’s facing an AL team tonight. Edge to Porcello.

WEDNESDAY’S PITCHERS
Vance Worley: 2.30 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 5.6 K-Rate
Robbie Ray: 4.70 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 5.3 K-Rate

We switch sites now, as the last two games are in MoTown. Worley also goes on that “Where the heck did THIS come from?” list of Pittsburgh pitchers. They have an amazing knack of fitting their defense around hurlers who weren’t supposed to be quality pitchers any more. Facing the Tigers offense with a DH on the road will be Worley’s toughest test yet. Early word is that Robbie Ray will get a spot start for the Tigers here, though that may change before first pitch in what had initially been labelled “undecided.” He takes the regular spot of Anibal Sanchez, who left his prior start Saturday with what was reported to be a strained pectoral. Ray hasn’t thrown a Major League inning since May 22 as we go to press. Good spot to look Over.

THURSDAY’S PITCHERS
Francisco Liriano: 3.82 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 9.5 K-Rate
Max Scherzer: 3.13 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 10.2 K-Rate

We don’t get any strikeout pitchers until the finale…and then we get them BIG! Liriano has knocked about a run off his ERA over the last month, which is great news for the Bucs if they want to finish off another run into the postseason in the crowded NL. About two months ago, Scherzer got rocked hard by Kansas City. Since then, he’s been ace caliber all the way, knocking about three-fourths of a run off his ERA. Looks like the worst is over for him, which means he has a clear mound edge in the series finale.

It’s very likely JIM HURLEY will have at least one big play in this four-game series. You can always purchase daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about longterm service in either baseball or football, call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-800-323-4453.

Great week ahead in the pennant races and NFL Preseason Here’s the projected NOTEBOOK schedule…

Tuesday: MLB Big Game Preview: Oakland at Kansas City
Wednesday: MLB TV Preview: NY Yankees at Baltimore on ESPN
Thursday: AFC South Preview (Jacksonville/Chicago on ESPN)
Friday: AFC East Preview: (New England hosts Philadelphia on NFL Network)
Saturday: AFC North Preview: (Baltimore/Dallas on NFL Network)
Sunday: AFC West Preview: (Denver/SF on NFLN, Kansas City/Carolina on FOX)
Monday: NFL Big Game Preview: Johnny Manziel vs. RGIII in Cleveland/Washington!

Who says August is a quiet month! With so much pennant race drama…and NFL Preseason storylines, it’s shaping up as THE HOTTEST AUGUST EVER at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK®!

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