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Detroit Right-hander Rick Porcello a Breakthrough Candidate in 2014

Oskeim Sports Free Sports Pick: Detroit Tigers (-138) over Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore right-hander Bud Norris was 4-7 with a 4.59 ERA and 1.51 WHIP on the road last season, and he finished the year with a pedestrian 4.18 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. Even more concerning than those periphery statistics is the fact that Norris yielded 196 hits and issued 67 walks in 176.2 innings of work. Let’s also note that Norris is known as a slow starter as evidenced by his 4.44 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in five starts last April (24.1 IP; 31 H; 17 R; 10 BB). Norris is also 0-1 with a career 6.75 ERA and 1.50 WHIP versus the Tigers, including his lone trip to Comerica Park last season where he allowed seven earned runs on nine hits in five innings pitched.

Detroit’s potent lineup has not disappointed this season as the Tigers are batting .301 with a .345 on base percentage (5.3 runs per game), including hitting .357 with a .392 on base percentage at home (7.0 runs per game). In contrast, the Orioles are batting a woeful .214 with a .259 on base percentage in 2014 (2.7 runs per game), including hitting .191 with a .247 on base percentage versus right-handed pitchers (3.0 runs per game).

Finally, Detroit starter Rick Porcello demonstrated excellent control and command during spring training wherein he posted a 15/2 K/BB ratio in 18 innings pitched. Porcello is one of my favorite breakthrough candidates in 2014 as his curveball became a strikeout pitch for him last season (32% SwK%), while his slider became a lot more effective with a 14% swinging strike rate). Porcello’s underlying numbers from last season also indicate that he was ranked in the top 5 of all starting pitchers for skills displayed with the bases empty and against right-handed batters.

With Baltimore standing at 9-34 (-23.8 units) versus teams with a batting average of .295 or better, take the Tigers and invest with confidence.

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