Aug. 11 MLB Preview — Kansas City Royals (42-76) at Detroit Tigers (35-79)

(Masahiro Tanaka photo courtesy Tommy Gilligan/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: Sunday, Aug. 11, Comerica Park, Detroit, Mich., 1:10 p.m. EDT.

Daniel Norris‘ struggles at home have typified the play of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park for most of the season. Norris hopes the atypical play of the Tigers at home versus the Kansas City Royals carries over to him in the finale of this four-game series between these AL Central rivals Sunday.

Junis back on track after solid outing versus BoSox

Jakob Junis (7-10, 4.88) is looking for his fourth win in six starts since the All-Star break after avoiding a third consecutive loss in his last outing.

The right-hander stifled Boston on Tuesday night, holding the Red Sox to one run in six innings of Kansas City’s 6-2 win. When Junis has been on since the All-Star game, he has been superb with three wins and a 0.95 ERA over 19 innings. In the two losses, Junis has been tagged for 10 runs and 16 hits in 13 innings.

“You want to be the one who goes out there and throws a good game and kind of keeps them off the scoreboard, gives your team a chance to win and break that streak,” Junis told the Kansas City Star after snapping the Royals’ seven-game losing streak.

“I think tonight was a good night for that. We hadn’t been playing very well lately. Offense and pitching staff hadn’t really been on the same page. Tonight, offense was great and pitching all the way up and down was good too.”

Junis is looking for a third straight winning start on the road, where he is 4-4 with a 3.98 ERA in 11 starts. He has pitched well in both his starts versus Detroit without a decision in either of them yielding five runs in 13 innings. The third-year pitcher is 5-1 with a 3.25 ERA in nine career starts against the Tigers and 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA in his last five starts in Detroit.

JaCoby Jones has given Junis some issues, hitting a cumulative cycle while going 5 for 13.

Norris out to end Motown woes, pick up first home win since late April

Norris (3-9, 4.76) carries a personal five-game home losing streak into this contest, posting a 5.15 ERA during a seven-start winless stretch at Comerica Park since beating the Chicago White Sox on April 21.

Norris’ home struggles continued Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox, giving up two solo homers and four runs overall in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-3 defeat. The lefty has been taken deep nine times in 44 2-3 innings, and his 1.81 home runs per nine innings is a noticeable uptick from his season mark of 1.53.

“It was a battle,” Norris said regarding the 11-pitch, first-inning at-bat versus Jose Abreu that resulted in a home run that set the tone of the game. “I tried to mix in a two-seamer there and sort of just left it [over the] middle. He put a decent swing on it. I think if I make my pitches there, the at-bat’s over. But I was just kinda leaving stuff and he was fouling it off. Then I left it too middle, and he got it.”

The southpaw has made one start and one relief appearance against the Royals this year, yielding five runs and nine hits in eight innings. The relief appearance came at home April 6 when he allowed a pair of homers and three runs in three innings. Norris is 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA in 10 career starts versus Kansas City, including 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA in five outings at Comerica Park.

Whit Merrifield and Alex Gordon have been nightmare matchups for Norris, with Whitfield 7 for 19 with three homers and five extra-base hits and Gordon 7 for 16 with a pair of doubles. Jorge Soler has added to those woes for the southpaw with a homer and two doubles among six hits in 13 at-bats.

Notable Trends

The Tigers are:

  • 3-13 in Norris’ last 16 home starts vs. sub-.500 teams.
  • 6-21 in Norris’ last 27 home starts.
  • 6-22 in their last 28 during game 4 of a series.

The Royals are:

  • 5-0 in their last five road games vs. the Tigers when Norris starts.
  • 6-2 in Junis’ last eight starts vs. the Tigers.

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

UNDER 4.5 runs first 5 innings (-110)

Both pitchers have been on song in the first half of games, with the under hitting in Junis’ last six starts and 2-1-2 in Norris’ five outings following the All-Star break. The five-inning under continues to trend strongly with the Royals, going 14-5-1 in their last 20 games.

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

UNDER 9 runs (-110)

The under has been solidly trending with Junis, hitting in five of his last six starts and going 4-1 since the All-Star break. Despite his losing record at home, Norris has been formidable there — the under is 13-3-2 in his last 18 starts against sub-.500 teams and 18-7-2 in his last 27 at Comerica Park overall.

The under is also 11-4-1 in Detroit’s last 16 in game four of a series.

***3-Star Picks***

Royals ML (-131)

The hedge is that Junis can pick up where Mike Montgomery left off from Saturday and help pitch the Royals to a split of this series. As stated previously, when the righty has been on his game, he has been very good, and shutting down a potent Red Sox lineup portends good things when combined with his track record versus Kansas City.

Norris’ home struggles are just too much to overcome along with expecting Detroit to put together a sustained stretch of quality baseball regardless of venue.

Tigers UNDER 4 runs (-125)

Another confidence pick in Junis while riding Saturday night’s outcome. The Tigers have scored four or fewer runs in eight of their 15 games against the Royals and in 15 of their last 20 overall. Kansas City has also held opponents to four or fewer runs in four of Junis’ last five starts.

Royals -0.5 runs first 5 innings (+105)

This is a toss-up because Norris’ early form is nearly as good as Junis, with the Tigers 3-1-1 at the five-inning mark in the left-hander’s five starts from the All-Star break. Kansas City has led in four of Junis’ five starts, and with two of those leads coming against Cleveland and Boston, he rates just enough to be the pick.

UNDER 3 runs first 3 innings (-145)

This is a confidence pick in the form of both pitchers, though Junis has given up first-inning runs in his two starts versus the Tigers. There have not been more than three combined runs in the first three innings of Norris’ last five starts, while there have been two or fewer in the last five of the Royals’ right-hander.

 

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