The Detroit Tigers have played the Chicago Cubs four times in their postseason history yet somehow have yet to face the Red Sox in the playoffs. Think about that. If Bovada oddsmakers are correct, there will be a Tigers-Red Sox matchup in the American League Championship Series next month. Detroit is the +150 AL pennant favorite with Boston second at +300.
It’s now all but a lock that the Red Sox and Tigers will win the AL East and Central, respectively. Boston has the slight edge over the Tigers in overall winning percentage for the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs, with the the Texas Rangers also in that conversation.
Obviously if Boston and Detroit finish with the two best records, they could only meet in the ALCS. The top seed faces the winner of the one-game wild card playoff in the ALDS. The Tigers appear to have the scheduling advantage. The only team they play the rest of the way with a winning record is Kansas City (two series), and Detroit closes the year with three at the terrible Miami Marlins. The Tigers are 19-4 to win the World Series — behind the LA Dodgers — with the Red Sox at 15-2.
The Sox opened as -140 series favorites for this three-game set with Detroit. Tuesday’s scheduled Tigers starter, Max Scherzer, will win the AL Cy Young Award. Scherzer (19-1, 2.90 ERA) is just the third pitcher in big-league history to win 19 of his first 20 decisions. The others are Rube Marquard of the 1912 Giants and Roger Clemens of the 2001 Yankees. Marquard started 19-0 but lost his next three decisions and would finish at 26-11. Clemens went to 20-1 and finished 20-3 in winning his lone Cy Young as a Yankee. Every pitcher in baseball history who has won at least 20 games in a season since 1901 has lost at least three decisions.
Scherzer had been stellar since the All-Star Break, not allowing more than two earned runs in any start. However, he was roughed up last Thursday by Oakland, allowing six runs and eight hits in five innings, but Detroit still won the game. Scherzer started June 22 against Boston at Comerica Park and allowed two runs and struck out six in seven innings of a 10-3 win. The Sox were +159 underdogs in that one; Tuesday both teams opened at -105. Scherzer is 8-0 with a 2.14 ERA in 13 road starts.
Jacoby Ellsbury doesn’t fear Scherzer as Ellsbury is 5-for-9 with a home run and five RBIs in his career off him, but Ellsbury isn’t in the starting lineup to begin the game. Consider betting the “will David Ortiz hit a home run” prop. Big Papi is 7-for-13 with three homers and six RBIs in his career off Scherzer. Dustin Pedroia has two homers in 13 at-bats.
Wednesday’s finale will have Live Betting. Detroit starts right-hander Rick Porcello (11-7, 4.44). He has allowed more than three earned runs only once in his past 10 starts. Detroit has won eight of them. Porcello didn’t face Boston in June and is 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 14 career innings against the Sox. He is 6-4 with a 3.89 ERA on the road in 2013. Ellsbury feasts off Porcello as well, going 6-for-7 with a home run.