One of the hottest pitchers in baseball, Justin Verlander, goes to the hill on Thursday night when the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians finish their 3-game series.
First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. (ET) and Verlander is a $1.80 favorite over Zach McAllister and Cleveland. The total on the Don Best odds screen is 7½-runs.
Verlander (11-5, 2.42 ERA) has almost the exact same ERA as last year when he went 24-5 and won the AL Cy Young Award along with AL MVP honors. He’s doing his best to catch up to that win total by going 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA in three July starts, allowing just 11 hits in 25 innings.
The Tigers are 7-1 in Verlander’s last eight starts overall, with the 29-year-old right-hander allowing two earned runs or less in all of the wins. Don Best Sports analysts Pat Williams and Kenny White are both in agreement that they’re the team to beat in the AL Central, with White giving Chicago a chance as well.
Detroit does need its other starters besides Verlander to step up. Doug Fister got out-dueled in the Tuesday series opener by Ubaldo Jimenez, losing 3-2. The Wednesday night result is still pending with Max Scherzer a $1.45 favorite over Derek Lowe and the Tribe.
Note that Cleveland is just three games back of both Detroit and Chicago in the AL Central race pending Wednesday’s final. The offense hasn’t scored more than three runs in a game in its last five and is relying too much on the pitching staff.
The Indians are quietly 6-1 against the Tigers this year, including winning all four at home (the ‘under’ 4-0). The Tigers have only won five of the last 22 contests in Cleveland.
McAllister (4-2, 3.21 ERA) has been solid since joining the rotation in early May. Cleveland is 6-3 in his nine starts. He’s been even better in his last five at 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA.
The 24-year-old right-hander has a very good fastball at 92 mph and a curve ball at 80. His strikeout rate is a solid 8.36 and the former top Yankees farmhand does a good job mixing his speeds and keeping hitters off-balance.
Most pitchers are 10 percent better at home and 10 percent weaker on the road. McAllister has been slightly better at Progressive Field (3.13 ERA in six starts), while Verlander does have a significantly higher road ERA (3.08) than home (1.68), although that road number is 2.43 in his last five.