MLB Regular Season

Matchup: Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers

Date/Time: July 17, 7:05 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Ubaldo Jimenez (7-4, 2.81) vs. Anibal Sanchez (8-7, 4.63)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: Detroit -120

Total: 8

If you had Ubaldo Jimenez as the top starting pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles this season, you might want to go play the lottery. The enigmatic right-hander will take the ball to open up the second half of the season against Anibal Sanchez and the Detroit Tigers. It’s safe to say that both of these teams underachieved in the first half with identical 44-44 records. The Orioles seem to be in better shape than the Tigers, who will be without Miguel Cabrera well into August with a calf injury. The Tigers do, however, open the second half as a favorite in this one.

The Orioles took several steps forward in the month of June and then lost eight of 11 in the month of July entering the All-Star Break. Baltimore was just 23-29 after three losses to open the month of June. By the end of the month, they were 41-36. But bad play down the stretch kept them from gaining any ground in the top-heavy American League East. The saving grace for Baltimore is that everybody but the Yankees struggled around the same time that they did, so they are very much in the hunt. Nobody is more than 6.5 games out in the AL East to begin the second half.

The Tigers are in a much more depressing place. They fell to nine games behind the Kansas City Royals, who have the best record in the American League. The Tigers have a lot of future problems and may exacerbate them by trying to be buyers at the Trade Deadline in a couple of weeks. Without Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers are below average offensively and they have had all sorts of problems on the pitching staff, including Friday’s starting pitcher, Anibal Sanchez.

One of the brightest spots of the Orioles’ season has been Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez looked like a sunk cost last season. After signing a four-year, $50M deal with the Orioles, Jimenez couldn’t hold down a spot in a poor starting rotation and barely managed to be useful out of the bullpen. Over 125 bad innings, Jimenez posted a 4.81 ERA with a 4.67 FIP and a 4.48 xFIP. He was worth 0.4 wins above replacement player and had the highest walk rate of his career. This season, he is a completely different pitcher, with a 2.81 ERA, a 3.21 FIP, a 3.25 xFIP, and the best walk rate of his career. Over 99.1 innings, Jimenez has been worth 2.2 wins and is on track for his best season since 2010.

The same cannot be said for Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez has two years and an option year left on his five-year, $88M deal with the Tigers. After being limited to 21 solid starts last season with a 3.43 ERA, 2.71 FIP, and 3.56 xFIP, Sanchez’s command has completely abandoned him this season. In 2011 and 2012, Sanchez allowed 20 home runs in 196.1 and 195.2 innings, respectively. In his first full season with the Tigers, he allowed nine home runs in 182 innings. This season, Sanchez has allowed 19 home runs in 118.2 innings and will set a career-worst in home runs allowed. A chief weapon of the free-swinging Orioles is their power and that could certainly come into play in this one.

Pick: Baltimore Orioles

The Tigers have seen a lot of Ubaldo Jimenez from his time with the Cleveland Indians, so that is certainly a concern. Nevertheless, this is a different lineup without Miguel Cabrera and Anibal Sanchez has a 4.63 ERA with a 4.33 FIP on the season. He is not the type of pitcher that you want to back against a lineup with some good power and that’s exactly what Baltimore possesses.