Lo Duca: Two Plus-Money MLB Plays on Thursday
I always did well at the the plate when it was my birthday, so why wouldn’t I throw a couple of winners out there for you. Plus-money plays on my birthday!!!
Detroit Tigers (+155) @ Cleveland Indians (-175) | O/U: 8
Michael Fulmer (1-1, 0.68 ERA) vs. Trevor Bauer (0-1, 2.08 ERA)
6:10 p.m. ET
It hasn’t been a secret at all: The Indians have not hit a lick to start this season. On Wednesday night, Yonder Alonso finally ended a teamwide 0-for-23 slump with runners in scoring position. They were dead-last in wOBA (weighted on-base average) going into last night, but came out of their slide with five runs against the Tigers’ bullpen after Jordan Zimmermann was struck in the face by a comebacker (thank God he was able to walk back to the dugout on his own).
Detroit’s offense hasn’t been much better — it was second-to-last in wOBA heading into last night — and Trevor Bauer has been good in his first two starts. He absolutely dominated the Royals in his last outing. He’s going up against Michael Fulmer, who has been just as good as Bauer. He took a tough loss against the Pirates and actually pitched a little worse in his next start, but got the win.
Two things are hard to ignore with Fulmer.
- His numbers before the All-Star break. Fulmer had a 3.19 ERA before the break and a 5.33 ERA after the Midsummer Classic. In 2016, his first-half ERA was even better, as he was 9-2 with a 2.11 ERA.
- Fulmer’s left-handed splits are even more amazing! In 2016, lefties hit .222 against him, and his ERA is a run lower than against righties. In 2017, the lefties adjusted to even out the splits, but the ERA was just a fraction worse than when he faced right-handed hitters. Very unusual for a right-handed starter.
Terry Francona ran out five left-handed hitters and a pair of switch-hitters Wednesday. I realize the lineup may change, but if Fulmer gets to pitch to five, six or seven lefties, he will be tough to beat. I know Bauer is nasty, but he can be had.
I’ll take my shot and take that +155 with the Tigers!
Chicago White Sox (+162) @ Minnesota Twins (-180) | O/U 8.5
Lucas Giolito (0-1, 6.17 ERA) vs. Jose Berrios (1-1, 3.29 ERA)
8:10 p.m. ET
Lucas Giolito has not been good this year after being a late-season surprise last year. He has struggled with his control. Period.
When I watch him throw, I can see he’s totally a “feel” pitcher. The weather is a factor with him. The colder the weather, the harder it is to get any feel on the ball. Both of his starts, one at Kansas City and one at home, were in cold weather. Surprise, it’s going to be in the mid-30s at Target Field on Thursday night.
On the other hand, the Twins are coming off a walk-off win and a series win over the Astros. Jose Berrios had a weird line in his second start at home after tossing a complete-game shutout against the Orioles in his first start. He really only made one bad pitch in that second start, a home run to Kyle Seager surrounded by a bunch of bloop and broken-bat singles. He still struck out seven and walked nobody.
The White Sox have faced the Rays, Royals and the 8-5 Blue Jays. The Rays and the Royals are a combined 6-16, and both own a bottom-10 wOBA, while the Blue Jays are 10th in wOBA on the early season. Guess who Giolito started against? Yep, you guessed it, those two bad teams.
Lay the 1.5 runs (+115) and play the Twins. Take a shot!
All odds current as of Wednesday night.
Stats courtesy of Fangraphs and MLB.com.