Mets vs Tigers Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Thursday, May 4
Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Verlander (35) of the New York Mets.
Mets vs. Tigers Odds
-118 / -104
-118 / -104
Staring down the barrel of what would be an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, the New York Mets will turn to a new face to stop the bleeding on Thursday afternoon.
After a seven-run loss on Wednesday night, is there any helping this Mets team? Let’s break down today’s matchup via our Mets vs. Tigers preview.
It’s an overstatement to claim that Justin Verlander was brought in on a two-year, $86 million contract to beat the Detroit Tigers in an early-May home game. But, in a sense this is why Steve Cohen ponied-up so much money for the veteran.
New York already had Max Scherzer, but it needed a stopper to solidify this stable of arms with question marks abound in the bullpen and in the back-end of this rotation.
So, it’s fitting that this will be the first that Mets fans see of the 40-year-old with his new team. A season ago, Verlander was spectacular with a 1.75 ERA in 175 innings, earning his third career Cy Young Award despite diminishing returns in the strikeout department.
Verlander’s expected batting average rose from .161 in 2020 and .186 in 2019, but his mark of .207 still lined up with his career mark of .206. So despite the declining strikeout numbers, Verlander was still brilliant. Not only did he limit the damage done to him in the contact department; but moreover he once again kept his walk rate under 5%, which is a spectacular mark.
Now, I’ll say this: Spring Training stats may not matter much, but Verlander’s 3.00 ERA and 10 walks over 21 innings in the spring are all we have to go off here. He certainly looked good, but it’s hard to say he dominated. Surely age will eventually catch up with the veteran, so it’s certainly possible he may transition into simply a good arm after years of being an elite one.
As for this Mets offense, it’s been perfectly fine, though it’s been short of great. New York has struggled against lefties with a 101 wRC+, and over the last week it has struck out in an uncharacteristic 26.6% of at-bats despite a solid 114 wRC+. The Mets will look to turn around their recent fortune against a trendy lefty.
That lefty happens to be 30-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez. Remember him?
The former Red Sox lefty is enjoying a career year so far, posting a 2.21 ERA and 2.97 xERA in six starts. Across 36 2/3 innings, Rodriguez has pitched to contact brilliantly with a .227 xBA and has posted a career-best 5.1% walk rate.
On top of that, he’s improved at the strikeout department by sitting down 21.9% of the batters he’s faced. While it’s not close to the levels we saw from young E-Rod, it represents a return to the league average after K’ing just 18.4% of batters a season ago.
Detroit’s offense has been pretty crummy all season long, but during the last week this lineup is a respectable 16th in wRC+ with an above-average mark of 102. Furthermore, the Tigers offense has achieved those marks despite a ridiculously high 30.3% strikeout rate. The main reason for this is Detroit’s 9.2% walk rate — and certainly not its .126 Isolated Power nor its gaudy strikeout number.
The Tigers rank dead last in run value against fastballs this season at -22.6 and have the fifth-highest ground ball rate at 45.8%. This is particularly troubling considering that Verlander does not pitch to many ground balls. It’s also well-documented that the flame-throwing righty will feature his four-seam fastball heavily.
Mets vs. Tigers Betting Pick
I’ll admit, this is not a great spot for the Mets. They rank seventh in ground ball rate and have struggled to hit left-handed pitching — two things that will hinder their ability to score runs against a very strong-looking Rodriguez. The southpaw has been a wizard at getting outs on the ground; now with New York struggling to make contact, he’s in an even dreamier spot.
The thing is, though — I have no faith in the Tigers to score runs here. Verlander may come out with some rust and may even look worse than he did during his Cy Young campaign last year (hard to believe, I know!) but the fact remains that he’s a high-strikeout pitcher.
There are few teams that struggle to make contact as much as Detroit, and no team has been worse against the fastball, which is Verlander’s strongest pitch. So, I love backing the Under here and would take it to seven runs.
Pick: Under 7.5 (-105)
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