Detroit Tigers vs. Minnesota Vikings Preview and Pick

Detroit Tigers (17-14) Dontrelle Willis +140, 10 O/U at
Minnesota Twins (16-17) Glen Perkins -150, 10 O/U, Metrodome,
Minneapolis, Minn., 8:10 PM EST, Wednesday

by Badger of

Once considered one of the most promising young pitchers in all of
the Major Leagues, Detroit left-hander Dontrelle Willis will attempt
to take a huge step back into the bigs tonight when the Tigers face
Minnesota Twins lefty Glen Perkins in game two of a three-game set in
the Metrodome.

The Twins climbed one game closer to the first-place Tigers in the
American League Central with last nights 6-2 victory in game one of
the series, snapping the Tigers modest three-game winning streak in
the process. Catcher Joe Mauer continued his hot hitting since
missing the first 22 games of the season with a bad back, hitting a
homerun and nearly adding a second, and Joe Crede also returned to
action and hit a homerun to back pitcher Kevin Slowey who went six
strong in the win.

Not only will Willis will be making his season debut, but hell also
be trying to put the demons of 2008 behind him as well. The one-time
rookie of the year who couldnt throw strikes last year was demoted
after his last start in September, then diagnosed with anxiety
disorder in Spring Training. Hell try and take one step closer
toward being reliable tonight and keep the Twins, winners of three of
their last four games, in check in the process.

Baseball oddsmakers must be a little leery of Willis and his control
issues, as the Twins and Perkins are listed as rather large -150
favorites on the moneyline tonight. Willis and the Tigers are +140 on
the dimeline, with the over/under total listed at 10 across the board
at all of the offshore sportsbooks on the Internet.

The large -150 odds on Minnesota is a little strange, especially
since Perkins has had his issues of late and is not a prototypical
high-juice pitcher. Although his season-long numbers are good (1-2,
3.73 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, .287 OBP), Perkins has really struggled in his
last three outings allowing 22 hits and 13 runs in just 17 innings of
work (6.88 ERA) and all three ended up as losses for the Twins.

His last time out on Thursday Perkins lasted six innings and allowed
four runs on four hits (2 were HRs), but he left with no-decision in
what became a 5-4 loss to Baltimore. Perkins has pitched well against
Detroit in his career however, as he is 2-1 with a low 2.73 ERA in
four starts and a handful of relief appearances. Detroit slugger
Miguel Cabrera is one player the lefty will have to watch out for, as
he is 4-for-10 lifetime against Perkins.

Perkins will rely on Mauer to continue his hot start at the plate, as
the All-Star is 18-for-36 on the season (.500) with three of his four
homeruns coming in his last four games.

But theres little to no history of the Twins players hitting off of
Willis, which could help Willis in the early going. After spending
most of his years in the National League, Willis made just one relief
appearance for one inning against the Twins last season giving up one
run on one hit and two walks.

Willis made four starts in the Tigers minor league system before
getting his call up tonight, going 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA. More
importantly, he finished those four starts with a 16:9 strikeout to
walk ratio, which he will have to reign in a little if he hopes to
stay in the big leagues for the long haul.

The Tigers have struggled versus their division rival Twins in recent
years, winning just six of their last 19 head-to-head meeting with
the Twins. The Tigers were 3-6 in the Metrodome last season, where
the Twins have played well so far in 2009 with a 12-9 home record.

Last season these two teams went over the total in 11 of the 17 games
head-to-head, including seven of the nine played in the Metrodome.
But in three games this season they have yet to score that much, as
their games have ended with two unders and a push.

Badgers Pick: Dont get me wrong, Id like to see Willis regain his
old form. But a 16:9 K-BB ratio in the minors doesnt exactly instill
me with loads of confidence. The Twins know this too, so expect
Willis to run his pitch count up fast and be gone before he reaches
the 5th inning. Perkins isnt pitching well enough to lay -150
either, so Im taking the over of 10 in this game tonight.