July 31 MLB Preview — Detroit Tigers (31-72) at Los Angeles Angels (56-53)

(Shohei Ohtani photo courtesy Gary A. Vasquez/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: Wednesday, July 31, Angel Stadium, Anaheim, Calif., 4:07 p.m. EDT.

Daniel Norris tries once again for his first win in nearly three months as the Detroit Tigers conclude their three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.

Norris looks to build on positives from last outing

Norris (2-8, 4.89 ERA) has gone winless in 13 starts since beating Minnesota on May 12, posting a 0-7 record and 5.50 ERA in that stretch. The left-hander has recorded just three quality starts in that stretch, but one of them came Friday night in Seattle versus the Mariners.

Norris carried a shutout into the seventh inning at T-Mobile Park, but the two-run homer he allowed to Tom Murphy cost him a shot at a victory as the Tigers eventually lost 3-2 in walkoff fashion. The eight strikeouts matched a season high, and Friday also marked only the second time he pitched into the seventh in 18 starts.

“I feel like I lost it for us,” he told the Detroit Free Press dejectedly. “I gotta finish strong. Finish what I start.”

Norris is 0-4 with a 5.87 ERA in his last eight road starts, yielding four or more runs in five of them.

One bad inning cost the southpaw against the Angels on May 7 when a three-run third consigned him to a 5-2 loss at Comerica Park. Norris pitched four shutout innings around that bad frame and gave up five hits overall. He is 0-2 in three career starts versus Los Angeles.

Suarez fighting to stick with Angels

Jose Suarez (2-1, 5.35) did enough for manager Brad Ausmus to warrant keeping his spot in the rotation for a second turn following his third recall this year from Triple-A. The rookie left-hander was lifted after 4 1-3 innings and 80 pitches Thursday against Baltimore, giving up two runs while striking out six in Los Angeles’ wild 10-8, 16-inning defeat.

Suarez has not lasted longer than 5 2-3 innings in any of his eight starts with the Angels, and he has failed to pitch five innings in any of his three outings in Anaheim while going 0-1 with a 4.73 ERA. This will be the southpaw’s first career start against an AL Central opponent after facing division rivals five times and Toronto and Tampa Bay a combined three times.

Matt Thaiss hit his fourth homer in five games in helping Los Angeles win 6-1 on Tuesday night. The rookie first baseman has recorded three consecutive multihit games in that stretch, going 8 for 17 with eight RBIs.

Notable Trends

The Angels are:

  • 6-1 in their last seven Wednesday games.
  • 4-1 in their last five games vs. left-handed starters.
  • 9-3 in their last 12 games after scoring five or more runs in the previous game.

The Tigers are:

  • 1-7 in their last eight games vs. left-handed starters.
  • 5-21 in Norris’ last 26 starts.
  • 1-6 in Norris’ last seven road starts vs. above-.500 teams.

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

Tigers +0.5 runs (+105)

An all-in pick with Norris building on his last start and against the Angels, with the chance at plus-money while getting the half-run too good to pass up. The Tigers are 2-0-1 at the midway point in the left-hander’s last three starts and 3-2-2 in the last seven. They also have led after five innings in four of the six games on this road swing.

The Angels are .500 in Suarez’s eight starts at the five-inning mark (3-3-2), but Tuesday night’s win marked the first time in eight home games they led at that point (1-6-1).

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

OVER 10 runs (-110)

The over has trended hard with Norris outside Detroit, going 13-3-1 in his last 17 starts versus teams with a winning record and 3-1-1 in his last five overall outside Comerica Park. The over is also 9-2 in his last 11 games coming off a quality start and 15-6-2 in Detroit’s last 23 matchups against lefties.

The over has also delivered for almost all of Suarez’s eight starts in the big leagues, going 6-1-1. It is also 17-5-2 in the last 24 of game 3 in a series for Los Angeles.

***3-Star Picks***

Tigers +1.5 runs (-115)

The feeling is the wear and tear on the Angels pitching staff is going to be realized in this game since Suarez has a track record of fighting just to get through four innings. Los Angeles’ bullpen not only had a 5.46 ERA in its last 11 games, but Tuesday marked the first time in that span it did not record at least four innings of work.

That is simply not sustainable, and likely to happen in this contest. It is too early to say Norris turned a corner from his last start, but he at least has momentum on his side. That could be enough for Detroit to keep it close and perhaps steal a win against a slumping Angels team.

Tigers OVER 4 runs (-110)

Despite the fact the Tigers have scored more than two runs just once in their last eight games, the lack of confidence in Suarez going deep in this outing and taking the over makes the Tigers worth a flyer. The rookie has failed to end innings well, with opposing hitters batting .333 (15 for 45) with five homers, and the 10 gopher balls served up in 37 innings is a checkmark against an effective outing.

OVER 5.5 runs first 5 innings (-115)

Suarez’s struggles to get through five innings gives the over the nod here, though that is a contrarian pick given the under has hit in the first two games of this series and gone 4-0-1 in Detroit’s last five. The five-inning over is 6-2 on the road during Norris’ winless streak, and there have been six or more runs combined in five of Suarez’s eight starts.

Tigers OVER 2 runs first 5 innings (-115)

Another pick against Suarez, with opponents scoring 13 of their 23 runs against the rookie in the first two innings. Though Detroit is struggling offensively, the hedge is an Angels pitching staff that had given up two or more runs in the five games before Tuesday night will again be porous enough for the Tigers to claw out a few runs here.



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