July 30 MLB Preview — Detroit Tigers (31-71) at Los Angeles Angels (55-53)

(Shohei Ohtani photo courtesy Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Tuesday, July 30, Angel Stadium, Anaheim, Calif., 10:10 p.m. EDT.

At some point in his career, Los Angeles Angels rookie Griffin Canning probably would like to finish another game. Though the goal heading into Tuesday night’s contest against the Detroit Tigers would be to complete one he started.

VerHagen gets crash course in fine margins at MLB level

In his last two appearances bracketing a 10-week stint in the minors after being designated for assignment, Drew VerHagen‘s ERA has doubled.

The Tigers sent the right-hander to Toledo in May to begin the process of making him a full-time starter in hopes of salvaging a career that has yet to take off for the 28-year-old, who has a 5.42 ERA in 151 innings over six seasons.

VerHagen (1-1, 14.40 ERA) showed some early promise Thursday at Seattle with two scoreless innings, but he was unable to shake off a fielding error on a potential inning-ending double play grounder in the third by second baseman Niko Goodrum.

VerHagen served up a grand slam to the next hitter and was chased after allowing another two runs in the following inning of Detroit’s 10-2 defeat to the Mariners.

“I think for him, at times, we would throw a good curveball or a good slider and either get a strike or a swing-and-miss or something and then we’d call it again,” catcher John Hicks noted to the Tigers’ official website. “I think at times, he’d try to make it better or tried to make it really nasty instead of just kind of throwing the same one with the same intent.

“I think that’s something we can learn from.”

VerHagen has made two relief appearances against the Angels totaling 3 2-3 innings, including a mop-up frame last year in which he allowed a solo homer to Justin Upton and three runs overall in Detroit’s 11-5 loss Aug. 7.

Canning back in rotation after being last man standing

Canning (3-6, 5.15) missed his last scheduled turn in the Angels’ rotation, but the rookie right-hander had a valid excuse — he was the pitcher of last resort Thursday night in their wild 10-8, 16-inning defeat to the Baltimore Orioles.

Canning allowed three runs in the 15th, but the Angels rallied in the bottom half of the inning to extend the game and would have gotten the win had David Fletcher not been tagged out at the plate. In the 16th, he served up a two-run homer to Jonathan Villar, and that proved the decisive blow.

“That’s a tough situation to come in at one in the morning for the starter the next day, who’s mentally prepared to pitch the next day for us,” said catcher Kevan Smith to the team’s official website after Canning’s 42-pitch outing. “We were obviously going for that win, and it’s frustrating how it ended up. I thought he did a good job.”

Canning’s first major league victory came at Comerica Park on May 7 when he limited Detroit to two runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-2 victory. He is 2-1 with 4.04 ERA in seven home starts for the Angels.

Notable Trends

The Angels are:

  • 6-0 in their last six Tuesday games.
  • 5-2 in Canning’s last seven home starts.
  • 4-1 in their last five during game 2 of a series.

The Tigers are:

  • 0-5 in VerHagen’s last five starts.
  • 12-39 in their last 51 during game 2 of a series.
  • 12-45 in their last 57 games vs. AL West teams.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Angels -1.5 runs (-140)

There was temptation to consider an alternate run line of the Angels giving 2.5 runs, but then it was remembered they are coming off a series in which they narrowly avoided a four-game sweep at home to Baltimore and lost the opener of this series.

VerHagen does not inspire any belief the Tigers will offer much resistance in this game — Monday’s victory was just the fifth in Detroit’s last 33 games, but there is also little reason to put an unnecessary amount of trust in Canning.

The smart play is the Angels and the standard run line.

****4-Star Pick****

Angels OVER 5.5 runs (-131)

The red flag about VerHagen from his last start is the tendency to let things snowball. If something goes wrong, he overcompensates and gets into trouble. That contributed to six runs in his last start — the grand slam after the error and the two runs after leading off an inning with a hits batsmen.

Most major league teams will punish such errors, and with the heart of the Angels lineup featuring Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Shohei Ohtani, and Albert Pujols, it is difficult to see Los Angeles being held down offensively for a second straight game.

Angels OVER 3 runs first 5 innings (-121)

With no difference in the line between the first three innings and the first five innings for the Angels’ over/under, the smarter play is to give their offense more chances to knock around VerHagen.

Detroit pitchers have allowed three or more runs in seven of its 12 road games since the All-Star break, while Los Angeles has plated three or more runs in six of 12 at home in that stretch. Opponents are batting .356 against VerHagen on the season, and the heart of the Angels order should be able to string together hits against him.

***3-Star Picks***

OVER 9.5 runs (-115)

Even with the under delivering Monday night, the over is trending solidly with the Detroit on the road, going 7-2 in the last nine games against teams with an above-.500 record at home, 8-3 in the last 11 against clubs with winning records, and 13-6-2 in the last 21 outside Motown overall.

The over is also 7-2 in Los Angeles’ last nine games versus sub-.400 teams. Again, with little confidence in both starting pitchers, the over is the play. And with the number moving off 10 down to 9.5, the hook offers more incentive to take the over.

Angels 3-way money line first 5 innings (-176)

A narrowly better return than taking the Angels and laying the half-run at -181, the Angels are not making this easy on bettors considering they are now 0-4-1 at the midway point in their last five games against the dregs of the American League.

The two saving graces for this pick are VerHagen being on the mound for the Tigers and Canning having beaten them earlier this season and carrying a shutout in to the sixth inning. There is little value to be had in this pick given Los Angeles as a heavy favorite, but if one must, the home team is the play.

OVER 6 runs first 5 innings (-110)

This has the feel of a 50/50 pick because of Canning’s inconsistencies as a rookie, even with the five-inning over 5-2 in his last seven starts. The flat six makes this a challenging selection, but since there is little confidence in VerHagen, the over gets the nod.

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