Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals
First pitch: 5:15 p.m. PT
Probable pitchers: Daniel Norris (3-11, 4.66 ERA) vs. Mike Montgomery (3-7, 4.66 ERA)
Right away, it must be noted that we’re dealing with a sort of an opener here, with Norris being limited to three innings these days to limit the off-injured southpaw’s workload until the end of the campaign.
While that might sound inauspicious — considering it also requires a lengthy stint from the bullpen of a 40-95 team — this is actually a plan that has worked out very well for the Tigers since deploying it.
Norris will be making his fifth “start” under these conditions and he’s been solid through the first four, allowing only five runs total — and only one run in his last three such assignments combined. So, that shows he’s settled into his new role.
The key, however, may be who comes in after the 26-year-old. Drew VerHagen has accepted that responsibility and flourished, having made three successful such “piggyback” appearances in as many tries. He yielded just three runs across those outings, spanning 14 total innings.
Although the right-hander holds a career 5.03 ERA at this level, give VerHagen credit for enjoying the best month of his career (maybe by far), as he notched a 2.52 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in five games, including two encouraging starts.
As a result of the success early on in this experiment, I’ll willing to trust the team of Norris and VerHagen (sounds like a law firm) in a high over/under like this. If they can continue what they’ve been doing opposite a not-so-dangerous Kansas City batting order, the fine back-end of the Tigers bullpen can do the rest.
From there, I trust Montgomery, a Zylbert Guy I identified in the beginning of his career, to do his part. As anticipated, the 30-year-old lefty has been mostly good after being dealt to the Royals in mid-July. He’s been used exclusively in the rotation — which is what Montgomery wanted — and has rewarded the Royals for their shrewd move with a relatively respectable 3.98 ERA in eight starts.
But the real reason to back Montgomery is that he’s been trending up, which is always a sign that, like his counterpart tonight, he’s settled in. In four of his last five outings, Montgomery has given up no more than two earned runs. One of those came against the Tigers, a date that saw Montgomery paint seven terrific shutout innings and rack up a career-best 12 K’s (in a bet we won). Play: UNDER 9.5 (-120)
Yesterday’s Result: Blue Jays-Braves Under 9.5 (WIN)
Zylbert’s 2019 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 75-68-10, -1.55 units
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit