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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 1:19 AM

The Detroit Tigers are off to a 4-0 start after sweeping Boston last weekend and taking a series opener form Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Annual Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander will be on the mound Wednesday afternoon against the Rays. Even with this hot start, handicappers have to wonder if Detroit truly has enough pitching to challenge the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, and New York Yankees at the top of the American League this year.

Verlander’s a given. Barring injury he’s likely to post a great record this year with so many bats behind him. We strongly encourage you to watch any game you can where he’s on the mound. Very few starters have his kind of electric stuff when he’s on. Here are the other scheduled pitchers scheduled for starts this week:


Thursday: Drew Smyly vs. Tampa Bay

Yeah, we’re not that familiar with him either. He’s done okay in Double-A in the minors. But, he’s making the jump all the way to the majors this year as an untested lefty. He’s 6’3,” 190, which puts him in the long-lanky-lefty category. The team is excited about the future of the 22-year old. For now, he’s an unproven quantity at this high level. You have to assume he’s going to struggle until he proves otherwise. His last prep start didn’t go well, as he got hit pretty hard by Triple A batters in an exhibition. Sometimes “first look lefties” do well their first time through the league because nobody’s seen them yet. The Tigers are certainly hoping for that to be in play this month.


Friday: Unknown at Chicago

Hey, an even more unknown quantity than Smyly! This is Doug Fister’s spot in the rotation. He strained a muscle on his left side against Boston last week. Fister is on the Disabled List for at least 15 days. The Tigers are saying he may not be ready to go that quickly. Detroit already had a question mark in their rotation with Smyly. The guy who gets this spot in the rotation will be less highly thought of than Smyly. We can tell you now we’ll definitely be looking at Overs in this spot of the rotation as a general rule in April. Detroit KNOWS they have to score when a stopgap pitcher is on the mound.  


Saturday: Max Scherzer at Chicago

Scherzer got rocked by Boston over the weekend…but the Tigers lit up the scoreboard and rallied for a win anyway. His ERA last year was 4.43, and his WHIP was a fairly generic 1.35. He’s not a starter you can get excited about. He will win when he gets run support. But, you can say that about a lot of people. Detroit doesn’t want to rely on offense almost every time out. Outside of Verlander, it’s starting to look like that’s going to be a possibility.


Sunday: Rick Porcello at Chicago

Porcello threw a gem Tuesday vs. Tampa Bay, helped by chilly temperatures and a strong wind. He’s more vulnerable in better conditions, as his 4.74 ERA from last year will attest. A WHIP of 1.41 is borderline for even getting to stay in a rotation. But, the Tigers do think this still young hurler (only 23) has a chance to develop into a star. We won’t share that enthusiasm with them until we see it.

So, that’s a rotation of:

Ace: Verlander

Typical #2: Nobody

Typical #3: Nobody

Typical #4: Scherzer and Porcello both

Typical #5: Smyly and Whoever

The AL Central is projected to be a weak division this year…to the Tigers were expected to coast to a title with Verlander-Fister-Scherzer-Porcell-Experiment sight unseen. Losing Fister is a big deal though, particularly if he’s going to miss extended time. And, you can see that the margin for error is pretty small in terms of postseason quality if the Tigers match up with the staffs of the AL West. The staffs in the AL East are less scary…but then you’re just playing coin flip slugfests for the most part.

We’re watching this team very closely out of the gate because there are going to be clear money-making opportunities depending on how things play out. We start with the given that Detroit is going to have a strong offense. That was expected…and it’s been clear already that they’re going to score a bunch of runs barring injuries to sluggers. What’s also clear is that Verlander’s not going to be a bargain very often. You’ll have to lay BIG prices then hope he doesn’t have an off day.

With everyone else?

*We may be looking at a bunch of great OVER opportunities if everyone besides Verlander struggles. Maybe not many more games where it’s 10-10 after nine innings. But, enough to float past the Vegas threshold 6-7 times out of every 10 games.

*We may be looking at a bunch of BARGAINS if Porcello and Smyly can produce, and if Scherzer gets his head on straight. Oddsmakers don’t respect those pitchers…and moneyline prices are greatly influenced by the quality of the pitcher. Most 95-100 win teams are always expensive because they’re stacked with pitching. Detroit isn’t stacked with pitching…yet they could still make a run at that kind of record in a weak division. Porcello was pick-em Tuesday for instance, in a game the Tigers won 5-2.

As we mentioned yesterday, every Major League team has a story…and as set of strategies that can help you make money in their games. We’ll try to touch on as many as we can here in the NOTEBOOK this year. We encourage you do-it-yourself handicappers to outline the stories as best you can for each team…and to try and find value on the daily cards.

If you’re not confident in your ability to do that, then sign up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK! We have a special package available right now that takes you through the whole season. Or, try out a few days here at the website with your credit card to see how it all works. If you have any questions, call our office at 1-800-323-4453.

Be sure to check on basketball when you call. The playoff races are really heating up in both conferences…with survival, seedings, and home court advantage all in play as everyone approaches their final 10 games. You maximize your profits if you maximize your action when you have an edge!  


Games of interest for us Wednesday in MLB:

St. Louis at Cincinnati (early)

Boston at Toronto (early)

Tampa Bay at Detroit (early)


Miami at Philadelphia (late)

LA Angles at Minnesota (late)


NBA matchups of interest tonight:

Milwaukee at New York (huge!)

Atlanta at Boston

Utah at Houston

Phoenix at Memphis

LA Clippers at Oklahoma City (playoff preview?)

LA Lakers at San Antonio (ditto!)

Wow…what a big night in the baskets! The Bucks and Knicks are currently battling for the 8th and final spot in the East…though Philadelphia may be in a phree-phall that drops them below both. Boston is playing its third back to back of the week the night after visiting Miami. And, we could get an early taste of the Western playoffs at the same time we’re watching the bottom half of the Western contenders fight for survival.

If you’re a baseball fan…we’ve got you covered. If you’re a basketball fan…we’ve got you covered. If you’re a fan of MAKING MONEY, then link up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for THE BEST PLAYS ON THE BOARD in BOTH SPORTS!

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