The St. Louis Cardinals continue the interleague play portion of their schedule with a trip to Camden Yards to take on the Orioles in a game for the birds, while the Detroit Tigers continue their AL East road trip against the Toronto Blue Jays in regional action on MLB Network.
Matchup: St. Louis Cardinals at Baltimore Orioles
Date/Time: August 7, 7:05 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network
MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook
Probable Starters: STL: Justin Masterson (1-0, 7.50) v. BAL: Chris Tillman (8-5, 3.78)
Moneyline: Baltimore -133
Total: 8.5 -110/100
Justin Masterson will take the hill for the second time as a St. Louis Cardinal when the Battle of the Birds commences in Baltimore against the Orioles. Masterson was acquired on July 31 from the Cleveland Indians for outfield prospect James Ramsey. This is a big series for both teams, just like every series from here on out will be. The Orioles are looking to increase their lead in the AL East, while the Cardinals have been nipping at Milwaukee’s heels for weeks. The Cardinals have not had sole possession of first place all season.
Masterson will try to be better in this start than he was in his last one. The Cardinals staked him to a 6-0 lead and Masterson wound up giving up five runs in six innings of work. One encouraging sign is that Masterson threw nearly 68 percent of his pitches for strikes. Masterson was having a tough season with the Indians as an early season knee problem and the league’s worst defense led to a 5.51 ERA over 19 starts. The Cardinals represent a significant defensive upgrade and better control from Masterson could pay huge dividends for the Cardinals.
Chris Tillman has cut down on his home run totals, but his ERA is on par with last season’s 3.71. Tillman has seen a significant drop in strikeouts this season, going from 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings down to just 6.0 strikeouts per nine innings. The increased contact is part of the reason why Tillman has a 3.78 ERA this season, which is still respectable, especially in the AL and in Camden Yards. Amazingly, Tillman is just 2-5 at home with a 2.78 ERA, but 6-0 with a 4.68 ERA on the road. Tillman has not allowed more than three earned runs in a start since June 5, leading to a 2.38 ERA over his last 11 starts.
Masterson will be facing the Orioles for the 16th time overall and for his 12th start. In 69.2 innings of work, Masterson has a 5.06 ERA against the Orioles with five more unearned runs allowed. The Cardinals won in Masterson’s first start, so he has a one-unit profit with them. He was 10-9 for a modest gain of 0.58 units with the Indians.
Tillman will be facing the Cardinals for the first time in his career. The Orioles are 15-9 in Tillman’s 24 starts for a profit of 7.19 units, putting him in the top 10 of the league’s most profitable pitchers on the year.
Free MLB Pick: Baltimore
The inconsistencies of Justin Masterson’s mechanics are too much to overlook against a good team like the Orioles. After dominating on the road and struggling at home earlier this season, the Orioles are winning everywhere now. Part of what made Masterson a high-upside addition for the Cardinals is that he provides a different look for NL teams, but that advantage is negated here.
Matchup: Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays
Date/Time: August 7, 7:07 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network
MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook
Probable Starters: DET: Anibal Sanchez (8-5, 3.37) v. TOR: RA Dickey (9-11, 4.03)
Moneyline: Detroit -118
Total: 8.5 100/-110
Since starting the season 31-21, the Tigers have played essentially .500 over the last 60 games. The Blue Jays were 38-24 at one point and are now 62-54 or 61-55 as an injury to Edwin Encarnacion and inconsistent starting pitching have taken their toll. The Tigers will try to right the ship after getting shut out by Shane Greene in Thursday’s 1-0 loss against the Yankees. The Blue Jays wrapped up a key series against the Orioles by gaining or losing one game in the AL East standings.
Anibal Sanchez hasn’t put up the kind of performance he did last season when he led the league in ERA, but he remains a high quality starting pitcher. The strikeout numbers have dropped, but the walk numbers have as well as Sanchez is more comfortable allowing balls in play with the Tigers’ improved defense. Sanchez has allowed only four home runs in his 120.1 innings of work, which could negate a huge part of Toronto’s offense. Sanchez has struggled since the start of July, with a 4.93 ERA over his last six starts.
RA Dickey has posted a 3.70 ERA since ending the month of April with an ugly 5.09 ERA. He has factored into the decision in each of his last 10 starts. Despite a 3.72 ERA in that span, the Blue Jays are just 3-7 because of poor run support. Dickey has gotten just 37 runs of support in his last 10 starts and 14 of them came in one game. The knuckleballer is always a bit of a question mark, but he is 6-3 with a 4.26 ERA at home this season. His reverse platoon split has produced a slugging percentage against of .446 from right-handed bats, which is a concern because the Tigers lineup is loaded with them.
Sanchez will be making his sixth career start against the Blue Jays. In his previous five starts, he’s 2-2 with a 4.20 ERA. He didn’t factor into the decision earlier this season when he threw seven shutout innings against the Blue Jays. The Tigers are 11-9 in Sanchez’s 20 starts for a loss of 1.82 units.
Dickey will be facing the Tigers for the 17th time overall and 10th time as a starter. He’s 6-2 with a 3.84 ERA, but more recently, he is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA against the Tigers over the last two seasons. The Blue Jays are 11-13 for a loss of 3.71 units in Dickey’s 24 starts.
Free MLB Pick: Detroit
The Tigers should have some success against Dickey given his problems with right-handed power hitters this season. Sanchez has been thoroughly consistent and his advanced metrics suggest that some improvement is on the horizon.