Pittsburgh Pirates at Detroit Tigers (Game 1)
First pitch: 2:10 p.m. ET
Probable pitchers: Tyler Anderson (1-2, 4.02 ERA) vs. Michael Fulmer (1-0, 3.00 ERA)
The linesmakers’ perception of starting pitchers can change pretty quickly. Enter this particular doubleheader game as clear evidence of such, seeing as how a year ago, the same matchup of starters would draw a total of at least a run higher.
That goes to show the respect each has garnered in a short time. Fulmer especially has caught a lot of eyes for this early renaissance after a disastrous 2020 season, though that has to be attributed to it being his return campaign from Tommy John surgery. He was also being miscast as an opener when summoned.
After contributing some solid work out of the bullpen to begin the new year, Fulmer was moved back into the rotation (where he belongs) and was actually allowed to go more than a few innings! How did he respond? With five frames of two-run ball at Houston, scattering four baserunners.
It was only one start but that’s all I needed to see — not to mention the quality of the opponent — to declare that Fulmer is indeed back. Remember, this is a guy that was pitching well prior to being shelved by injury. He’s also a former American League Rookie of the Year Award winner.
For his second turn, not only does Fulmer get a lineup he can handle, he’ll also be in his best-possible setting to succeed. As I’ve written about before, the former New York Mets farmhand typically excels in the daytime (3.44 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) compared to working at night (4.63 ERA, 1.31 WHIP).
Furthermore, he’s been far better at home (3.59 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) — where he’ll be this afternoon — than on the road (4.52 ERA, 1.31 WHIP). Thus, we couldn’t have the right-hander in a better environment.
Then there’s Anderson, who has been a steady rock of consistency basically for the whole duration of his six-year career in the big league — but now the linesmakers are (finally) taking notice based on the respect he’s shown here.
Anderson always flew under the radar during successful stints with the Colorado Rockies (including an excellent Wild Card Game performance) and San Francisco Giants. Perhaps now he’ll start getting more attention as a Pirate, having notched three solid starts out of the gate so far that have seen the southpaw pitch his team into the sixth inning and while yielding three runs or fewer each time out.
One thing is certain: Anderson figures to be a hot commodity at the trade deadline in a few months. In the meantime, though, that means I completely expect Anderson — who was one of my top three sleepers coming into the season — to keep it going.
Today, at least, he has the right foe to tangle with that can assist in Anderson doing just that. The Tigers have been absolutely brutal opposite left-handed pitching, registering a horrendous .488 OPS in that department. As you can imagine, they rank dead last in baseball, even nearly 100 full points (!) behind the team they’re closest to (Seattle Mariners).
Being a seven-inning affair, Anderson and Fulmer eating up most of the game also limits our reliance on the two rocky pens.
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UNDER 6 @ -120 (Click to bet)
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Wednesday's MLB Leans
Giants-Phillies Under 8.5
Brewers-Padres Under 7.5
Blue Jays-Red Sox Over 9.5
2021 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 10-9, -0.07 unit
Yesterday’s Result: Diamondbacks-Reds Under 7.5 (No Action)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit