A battle of last-place teams begins Thursday as the Seattle Mariners host the Detroit Tigers. The Mariners are slight -130 favorites to win the series opener on Thursday night.
Not surprisingly, Seattle struggled coming out of the All-Star break, losing their first five games of the second half. However, they’ve managed to steady the ship, winning three of their last five games and even taking a series against the Rangers earlier this week. Nevertheless, they have 10.5 games to make up just to get out of last place in the AL West.
Meanwhile, the Tigers are also struggling, even by the meager expectations of a last-place team. Detroit has lost eight of its last nine games, going just 2-10 since the break. They now have the worst record in baseball with just 30 wins, falling behind even the woeful Orioles.
Next Chance, Last Chance?
Veteran Drew VerHagen will get the start for Detroit on Thursday. The righty is getting called up to get the spot start, which will be his first appearance in the majors since early May. He made 10 relief appearances for Detroit early in the year, posting an ERA of 15.00 over just six innings of work. VerHagen has just four career big league starts, typically pitching out of the bullpen. He also has a modest 4.42 ERA in 11 starts at Triple-A this season.
The good news for VerHagen is that he’ll be facing a watered-down Seattle lineup. Dee Gordon was placed on the IL earlier this week, and Domingo Santana is questionable to play with an injury as well. The key for VerHagen will be containing Daniel Vogelbach, who has four home runs in his last five games. Of course, those are Vogelbach’s only four hits during that span. Plus, outside of J.P. Crawford and Tim Beckham, most of Seattle’s regulars are struggling to get going offensively.
Building a Mystery
Meanwhile, the Mariners have yet to name a starter for Thursday. They have already used 14 different starters this season, so their rotation has been a mess most of the season. Lefty Wade LeBlanc would be on regular rest, although with a 5.05 ERA this season, the Mariners may want to go in another direction and give one of their younger pitchers a chance to start against the lowly Tigers.
Naturally, whoever gets the start for Seattle will face one of the worst lineups in baseball. The Tigers have been shut out twice in their last eight games, scoring 17 total runs over that span. Nick Castellanos remains productive amidst trade speculation, and Niko Goodrum has been swinging a hot bat lately. But no one else in Detroit’s lineup has been that productive recently.
No Easy Choice
It’s tough to pick a winner between two bad teams, especially without knowing Seattle’s starter. However, Detroit’s recent losing streak makes this game a little easier to call, especially with the Tigers going on the road. Bet on the Mariners to beat the Tigers in Thursday’s series opener.