It’s a possible playoff preview as the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox host the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers for a three-game series. Follow along, as we share our top MLB picks for tonight's rubber match.

 

04 Sep
Wednesday's Game Three

By: Ron Patrick

 

Boston got this series to even with a 2-1 victory Tuesday night, keeping Detroit's Max Scherzer from becoming the second pitcher ever to start a season 20-1. 

The Sox won as -110 favorites on Tuesday's MLB betting line. 

Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, after missing three straight games, played Tuesday night, but didn't have much to say, going 0-for-4. 

These two teams rank 1-2 in the Majors in scoring, but the first two games of this series have both played UNDER on the totals. 

So it's rubber-match time when the teams meet Wednesday night (7:10 pm ET, ESPN).

Wednesday's Betting Line 

As of Wednesday morning most sportsbooks were listing Boston and Ryan Dempster at around -120 over Detroit and Rick Porcello, with MLB odds listing the total at 9.5 or 10. 

Wednesday's Pitching Match-Up 

Ryan Dempster (7-9, 4.75), by our tough accounting, is just 10-for-26 on quality starts this year, and just one for his last eight. Last time out he gave up three ER in 6 1/3 innings against the White Sox, and over his last eight starts he's allowed 32 ER in 44 2/3 innings. 

On the season Dempster has given up 154 hits, including 24 homers, in 151 2/3 innings, walked 67 and struck out 137. 

He's also just 5-7 with a 4.93 ERA at Fenway Park this year. 

Image previewBoston is 15-11 in Dempster's starts this year, and despite his recent struggles, during which his ERA has risen from 4.04 to 4.75, the Sox have won seven of his last eight outings, thanks mainly to some great run support. 

It's almost hard to believe, but this will be Dempster's first start against Detroit since 2002, when he was pitching for the Marlins. 

Rick Porcello (11-7, 4.44) is just 9-for-25 on quality starts this season. Last time out he held Cleveland to two runs through a rain-shortened 5 2/3 innings, but over his last five starts he's allowed 16 ER and 33 hits in 28 2/3 innings. 

On the season Porcello has allowed 158 hits in 148 innings, walked 35 and struck out 111. 

Detroit lost nine of Porcello's first 15 starts this year, but has won eight of his last 10 outings. 

This will be Porcello's first start vs. Boston since he gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 7-5 Tigers victory back in August of last season.

The totals are a combined 28-22 in Dempster and Porcello's starts this season.

Our Take on Wednesday's Game 

Neither of these two pitchers has done a whole lot to impress us this season. Also, after two low-scoring games, we're thinking the bats might break loose tonight. So while we're not sure who's going to win this game, we'll go with the OVER for our free MLB pick for Wednesday. 

Pick: Take the OVER 9.5 runs at the -115 offered at BookMaker.

 

03 Sep
Tuesday's Game Two

By: Ron Patrick

 

Detroit took Game 1 of this series Monday afternoon 3-0 behind a quality start from Doug Fister, scoring twice in the seventh inning and once in the eighth to break a scoreless tie.

The Tigers won as +135 post-time underdogs on Monday's MLB odds board, and the game played UNDER its total of nine.

So Detroit can take the series when the teams meet for Game 2 Tuesday night (7:10 pm ET).

Tuesday's Betting Line

In the early going most sportsbooks were listing Tuesday's game, which matches lefty Jon Lester against Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer, at right around a pick 'em, with a total of 8.5.

Tuesday's Pitching Match-Up

Lester (12-8, 3.99), by our tough standards, is only 12-for-28 on quality starts this season, but four for his last five. Last time out he gave up three runs in six innings against Baltimore, but over his four starts previous to that he held foes to just four ER over 29 innings. 

Image previewOn the season Lester has given up 174 hits in 178 innings, walked 60 and struck out 145. 

Boston is 16-12 in Lester's starts this year, but only 4-6 over his last 10 outings.

In his one start this season against Detroit Lester allowed five runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 10-6 Sox victory back in June. Last year, in two starts vs. the Tigers, Lester gave up five ER through 13 2/3 innings.

Max Scherzer (19-1, 2.90) is going for his 20th victory of the season, and can become just the second pitcher ever to start 20-1 (Clemens became the first, for the Yankees in 2001). He's 21-for-27 on quality starts this year, and seven for his last eight. Last time out Scherzer got sliced for five ER in five innings against Oakland, but just before that he had run off seven QS in a row. 

For the season Scherzer has allowed just 128 hits in 183 innings, walked 43 and struck out 201. 

Detroit is a very profitable 22-5 in Scherzer's starts this year.  

Scherzer is also 8-0 with a 2.14 ERA on the road this season. 

In his one start this year against Boston Scherzer gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings of a 10-3 Tigers victory back in June. But last year, in three starts vs. the Sox, Scherzer got roughed up for 15 ER in 15 innings; somehow Detroit won two of those games.

Injury Update

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera sat out Monday's game because of an abdominal strain, but he might play Tuesday night. Bettors might want to check the line-up card before betting this game, especially considering Cabrera is 10-for-16 for his career against Lester. 

Our Take on Tuesday's Game

This is a tough one; Scherzer has been great this season, but his track record against Boston isn't too hot. Lester has been better as of late, but his recent track record against Detroit isn't anything to brag about. And we're not sure if Cabrera is going to play. But one thing catches our attention; the Tigers are 24 games above .500 overall this year, but only 21-19 against left-handers. So we'll go with the Red Sox for our free MLB pick for Tuesday.

Pick: Take Boston at the -107 offered at The Greek. 

 

02 Sep
Series Opener

By: Ron Patrick

 

This series should be fun to watch. And since we'll be watching, we might as well be betting. 

Here's how we handicap Monday's game, and this series. 

Image previewInjury Update

Usually we list the “injury update” section lower in these previews, but when Detroit's Miguel Cabrera is ailing, the news comes at the top. Cabrera, who's only leading the Majors in hitting and RBI, has missed recent action with a combination of an abdominal strain and a sore hip/leg, and is questionable for Monday and this series.

So far this season, though, the Tigers are 8-2 without Cabrera.

Monday's Betting Lines

As of Monday morning, most sportsbooks were listing Boston and John Lackey at around -130 over Detroit and Doug Fister, with a total of nine.

Also, TheGreek.com was chalking the Sox at MLB odds of -135 to win this series, with the Tigers getting +115.

Tigers-Sox Series Set-Up

Boston just swept three games at home from the White Sox, winning Sunday 7-6. So the Sox have won four series in a row.

Detroit just took two of three games at home from Cleveland, missing out on the sweep by losing Sunday 4-0.

So at 82-56 Boston leads the AL East by 5.5 games, while 80-57 Detroit leads the AL Central by 7.5 games. Which means the Sox lead the Tigers by a game and a half in the battle for the best record in the American League.

In the only previous meeting this season between these teams Detroit took three of four games from Boston at Comerica Park back in June. Three of those four games played OVER on the totals, as the teams combined to score 48 runs.

Monday's Pitching Match-Up

Lackey (8-11, 3.19) is, by our tough accounting, 16-for-24 on quality starts this season, and three for his last three. Last time out he held the Orioles to three runs through 7 1/3 innings, and over his last three starts he's given up six ER in 22 innings. 

On the season Lackey has allowed 149 hits in 155 innings, walked 33 and whiffed 134.

He's also 5-2 with a 2.24 ERA at Fenway this year.

However, because of some poor run support, the Sox are only 11-13 in Lackey's starts this year.

Also, the totals have leaned by a lopsided 20-3 margin toward the UNDERS in Lackey's starts.

In his one start this year against Detroit Lackey gave up two runs in seven innings of a game Boston eventually lost 4-3.

Fister (11-7, 3.81) is 18-for-27 on quality starts this year, but only one for his last four. Last time out he got roughed up for seven runs and 13 hits in five innings against Oakland, and over his last four starts he's allowed 15 ER in 23 2/3 innings. However, just before that he had strung together five QS in a row.

On the season Fister has given up 191 hits in 172 2/3 innings, walked 33 and struck out 127.

Detroit is 15-12 in Fister's starts this year, with the O/Us going 13-14.

In his one start this year against Boston Fister got bombed for six runs and 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings of a 10-6 Tigers loss back in June.

As for the bullpens in this series the Sox rank 16th with a 3.60 ERA and have blown 20 of 48 save opportunities, while Detroit ranks 25th with a 3.94 ERA but has converted 31 of 44 save opps.

Tigers-Sox With the Sticks

These are the two highest-scoring teams in baseball; Detroit ranks No. 1 in team OBP at .350, second in homers with 160 and first in scoring at 5.1 runs per game, while Boston ranks second in OBP at .347, 11th in homers with 140 and second in scoring at just under 5.1 RPG.

Injury Update, Part 2

Boston OF Shane Victorino, who knocked in seven runs a few games ago against Baltimore, left Sunday's game with a bruised hip, and Detroit OF Austin Jackson has missed recent action with a sore shoulder. Both are iffy for Monday's game. Also, Tigers SS Jhonny Peralta is on suspension. Bettors might want to consult the pre-game lineup cards before getting down on this one.

Tigers-Sox Betting Trends

Boston is 45-24 at home this season.

Detroit is 36-30 on the road.

The OVER/UNDERS are 30-35 in games played at Fenway Park this year.

Our Take on Monday's Game

Lackey gets the edge in the pitching match-up, and Detroit is a little banged up. So we like the Red Sox. But we also like to gamble, so we'll go with a run-line bet on Boston for our free MLB pick for Monday.

Free Pick: Take the Sox giving the run and a half at the +160 offered at 5Dimes.