Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 7:00 PM
Time for some Major League Baseball previews! We have the first night off from the NBA Playoffs in awhile. We’ll have plenty of time to delve into the diamonds between now and when the NBA Finals begin on Thursday June 2. The ideal place to re-ignite our baseball coverage Thursday is with a huge 4-game series featuring two of the preseason favorites to win the American League.
The Detroit Tigers visit the Los Angeles Angels in a series that’s fairly critical for BOTH teams right now. Even though both were popular picks to win their respective divisions before the season began, neither is even in first place entering this weekend series…
Through Tuesday Night
Detroit: 27-20, third place in the AL Central
LA Angels: 23-23, tied for second in the AL West
The Futures markets still regard both teams as legitimate contenders given the lack of superpowers in the A.L. right now. Oddsmakers and sharps are having trouble seeing teams like the Houston Astros or Minnesota Twins maintaining their current winning pace for the full season. Kansas City is the frontrunner to win the AL in the markets…but the Tigers and Angels are still supposed to be there at the end.
Neither will be there if they don’t start playing like champions! In fact, heading into Wednesday action (we’re using a Tuesday night cut-off because of publication deadlines), both teams just went 4-6 over their last 10 games. Can’t chase people down like that! In fact, both the Tigers and Angels are dealing with teams nipping at their heels rather than chasing down the leaders. That’s why THIS series is so important. The loser has a bigger headache. If it’s a 2-2 split…then neither gets much accomplished in the big picture.
Let’s run JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats for the offenses and the probable pitchers…
Detroit: 4.27 runs per game, .341 on-base, .418 slugging
LA Angels: 3.71 runs per game, .289 on-base, .357 slugging
The collapse of the Angels offense has been one of the biggest surprises this season. They were projected to be an offensive juggernaut…yet rate down near the bottom of the league in the most relevant offensive areas. They can’t get guys on base (.289 is pathetic in the DH league). And, they’re not slugging anywhere near expectations. We can say it now…the Angels will NOT be in the playoffs unless they can rise up to at least league average offensively. Big edge in this category to the Tigers.
Buck Farmer: making 2015 debut, struggled in limited 2014 action
C.J. Wilson: 3.36 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 6.4 K-Rate 6.6 IP-per-Start
The Angels catch a break early in the series as Buck Farmer has been called up to make an emergency start. He was overmatched last season in four MLB appearances. Wilson has been an innings muncher this season…which is enough to garner an edge over a minor-league call-up.
Anibal Sanchez: 6.12 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 8.8 K-Rate, 6.0 IP-per-Start
Hector Santiago: 2.47 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 8.2 K-Rate 6.1 IP-per-Start
The main reason Detroit isn’t dominating its schedule has involved their starting rotation. What a disaster for Sanchez! He was supposed to have ace-caliber stats. He’s still getting strikeouts…but he’s getting lit up on a fairly regular basis. Edge here to Santiago in pure pitching. Handicappers have to determine whether Detroit’s offensive edges will counteract that. If you focus on ERA, that doesn’t seem likely. But, those other three stat comparisons make it seem more manageable.
Shane Greene: 4.27 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 5.8 K-Rate 5.8 IP-per-Start
Jered Weaver: 4.06 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 4.9 K-Rate 6.4 IP-per-Start
Similar pitchers here who aren’t doing much with strikeouts compared to league norms…and have mediocre ERA’s despite having good WHIPS. They’re not putting too many people on base…but those guys are coming around to score! Pitching is about a wash, which gives the Tigers the overall edge this night because of their offense.
David Price: 2.97 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.7 K-Rate 6.6 IP-per-Start
Matt Shoemaker: 5.44 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.4 K-Rate 5.7 IP-per-Start
Note that this will be the Sunday night game on ESPN. Price will have the occasional shaky outing. But those are ace caliber stats in the DH league. Odd that Shoemaker has the better K-Rate and the same WHIP, but is getting rocked in the other categories. Too many big blows allowed by Shoemaker…setting up the first game where the Tigers are positioned to dominate. Can they stay focused in a get-away game?
JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one big play in this series over the next few days. You can purchase the final word for all daily baseball right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Thursday.
Stick with us here in the NOTEBOOK all through the long, hot summer (hot as in non-stop winning!) for great handicapping information. (Don’t forget that our NBA Finals preview will go up Wednesday June 3!) Then, hook up with WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!
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