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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 at 7:00 AM

There are so many storylines in play when the Pittsburgh Pirates visit the Detroit Tigers this week that it’s hard to keep track. You have “Wildcard favorites” in the marketplace because both teams are expected to stay behind St. Louis and Kansas City in their respective divisions through the duration of the season. Yet, you have two teams who obviously have the talent to make headlines in October when it’s time to win a championship.

Pittsburgh is already playing that way. Detroit is off to a slower than expected start, but is hoping Justin Verlander’s return can ignite a strong finish.



Pittsburgh 42-33 (+46 run differential)

Detroit 39-36 (-3 run differential)

If these teams were in the same division, Pittsburgh would have a three-game lead. But, evidence is pretty clear so far that the American League is superior to the National League once again. Flip schedules…and you could easily flop records. It’s possible that Detroit is the better team in a neutral context.

Will we learn anything about that in this series? PROBABLY NOT! Pittsburgh has lined up the top of its rotation against Detroit’s least scary starters. We’ll tell you this. If Detroit sweeps this series, or wins two out of three in reasonably impressive fashion, THERE WILL BE NO DOUBT that the AL is much superior to the NL this season.

Let’s run the numbers from JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats…



Pittsburgh: 3.97 runs per game, .313 on-base, .376 slugging

Detroit: 4.36 runs per game, .335 on-base, .420 slugging

Detroit’s potency is helped of course by having a DH in their lineup almost all the time, while Pittsburgh usually doesn’t enjoy that luxury (though the Bucs will here in an AL stadium). We would still give the Tigers the offensive edge…but it’s much closer overall than is suggested by those numbers. Give Pittsburgh a DH all the time, or make Detroit’s pitchers hit all the time…and the stats would obviously converge.



Gerrit Cole: 2.16 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 9.6 K-Rate, 6.4 IP-per-Start

Justin Verlander: 6.17 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 3.1 K-Rate, 5.8 IP-per-Start

Cole has an 11-3 record, and will be on the short list for Cy Young consideration if he keeps performing like that. Voters love great won-lost records and high strikeout counts. Throwing for a Wildcard might hurt…but not if he finishes 22-6! Verlander has only made two starts in 2015…and has now been off since June 19 because of back stiffness. Verlander appears to be the key to the Tigers season. If he can’t regain his past form…then the Tigers just aren’t going to matter. If he DOES, then they might actually be head-to-head favorites over Kansas City in an October playoff series. Be sure you monitor his strikeout rates as he settles back into the rotation. For this matchup…big edge to Cole.



A.J. Burnett: 2.01 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 7.9 K-Rate, 6.6 IP-per-Start

Alfredo Simon: 3.57 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 6.6 K-Rate, 6.1 IP-per-Start

Wow…Burnett has a better ERA than Cole! He’s learned his lesson about pitching to shifts, and accepting his role on a team that will play smart defense behind him. That’s TWO aces to start the series for the Pirates. Simon’s ERA has jumped a run after two poor outings vs. the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox. He had been performing over his head and was due for a regression. Maybe both pitchers are still grading out better than they should in the big picture. Big edge to Burnett even if you adjust for the leagues because of the ERA and K-rates.



Francisco Liriano: 3.21 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 10.2 K-Rate, 6.4 IP-per-Start

Kyle Ryan: 4.56 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 4.2 K-Rate, 5.7 IP-per-Start

And, now Detroit has to throw a non-regular! Ryan has only made three starts this season, out of six overall appearances. He’s obviously not very scary based on his year-to-date numbers. Liriano has done more pitching to contact lately. Losing some K’s isn’t a problem if he’s cutting way down on walks. Big edge to Liriano in terms of game-day potential.

Now that you’ve seen the likely pitching matchups, you can understand why a Detroit sweep would be a big red flag about the National League. Pittsburgh BETTER win at least two of the three with those edges on the mound.

JIM HURLEY will likely have at least one big play in this series. You can always purchase BEST BETS 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.

More great matchups coming up through the week…leading into our second weekend of college football conference previews. Here’s what’s on tap in the NOTEBOOK…

Wednesday: MLB Big Game Preview…choosing from NY Yankees/LA Angels, or Texas/Baltimore

Thursday: MLB Series Preview…Minnesota at Kansas City

Friday: MLB Series Preview…San Francisco at Washington

Saturday: College Football Preview…Conference USA “East”

Sunday: College Football Preview…Conference USA “West”

It’s a great time to be a baseball fan because the pennant races are already in full gallop and important matchups are all over the card. Keep building your bankroll for football with daily baseball. Whatever the sport…you’ll always GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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