James Shields of the Rays had a shaky outing last time out but he only allowed one earned run in his prior two starts and he pitched well vs. Detroit earlier this year. With Max Scherzer in good form, go ‘under’ on Thursday.
Expect a good pitchers’ duel Thursday night when Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers (36-39 overall, 19-21 away) take on James Shields and the Tampa Bay Rays (40-35 overall, 21-15 home) as the teams start up a four-game series from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL at 7:10 ET in a game televised regionally on MLB Network.MLB Pick
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 8 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -119.
The Tigers are a disappointing three games under .500 as we near the end of June and are in third place in the American League Central, but luckily no team is running away with that weak division and Detroit still finds itself just four games behind the first place Chicago White Sox. The Tigers showed some life offensively in Texas the last three nights despite losing two of the three games by scoring a total of 22 runs, but the offense could be lethargic here tonight.
That is because the Tigers did not arrive in Florida until the wee hours of this morning after losing a 3½-hour marathon 13-9 in Arlington last night, and facing a pitcher of Shields’s caliber tonight does not help matters. On the other hand, the most rested player on the entire Detroit team Thursday should be the starting pitcher Scherzer, as it is customary for teams to send the next night’s starter ahead to the next city when playing a night game on getaway day.
Scherzer does not have good overall numbers this season as he is 6-5 but with a high 5.12 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. However, he does have an impressive 107 strikeouts in 84.1 innings against only 30 walks and he is in fine current form that has actually seen his ERA and WHIP heading in the right direction.
Scherzer has recorded three straight Quality Starts and he has allowed three runs or less in six of his last seven starts. He has a sparkling 2.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over his last three outings with 27 strikeouts in 20 innings vs. just six walks, and although he is 0-2 in three career starts vs. Tampa Bay, that is through no fault of his own as he has a 3.06 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in those outings while limiting Rays’ hitters to a .161 batting average.
The Rays return home from a lousy 3-6 road trip that ended with them getting swept in a three-game series by a Kansas City Royals’ team that owns the second worst home record in baseball at 14-23, just one-half game better than the lowly Minnesota Twins. Tampa Bay should appreciate returning home though, and even with that terrible trip, the Rays are still among the leaders in the American League Team Money Standings.
They look to get back on track with Shields on the hill, who had an uncharacteristic bad outing vs. the Philadelphia Phillies on the road last Friday, allowing five earned runs on seven hits in five innings. However, Shields has always been a better pitcher here in St. Petersburg than on the road and he had allowed just one earned run in 14 innings over his prior two starts before Friday.
Furthermore, Shields is a perfect 5-0 in eight career starts vs. the Tigers including a gem earlier this season in Detroit where he allowed just two runs on six hits in eight innings while getting the win in a 4-2 Rays’ victory.
Finally, the Rays are not exactly tearing things up offensively this season while ranking a surprising 27th in the majors and second to last in the American :League with a .234 team batting average, ahead of only the punchless Oakland Athletics in the AL, so go ‘under’ on Thursday.
: Tigers, Rays ‘under’ 8 (-119)