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Indians vs. Tigers MLB Odds, Picks: Take Detroit Team Total

Indians vs. Tigers MLB Odds, Picks: Take Detroit Team Total article feature image

Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera.

  • The Indians are a big favorite over the Tigers on Thursday with reigning AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber on the mound.
  • Brad Cunningham's model actually likes Detroit's offense to string something together, so he's betting the Tigers' team total on Opening Day.
  • Get his complete Tigers vs. Indians pick and preview below.

Indians vs. Tigers Odds

Indians Odds -205
Tigers Odds +170
Over/Under 7.5 (-120 / +100)
Time Thursday, 1:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday afternoon and via DraftKings.

The Cleveland Indians send their 2020 AL CY Young Award winner to the mound on Opening Day Thursday to face the Detroit Tigers.

Cleveland has gone through a ton of changes this offseason after getting knocked out in the first round of last season’s playoffs by the New York Yankees. The Indians sent their All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and veteran starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets, getting Amed Rosario in return.

Carlos Santana, along with their best reliever Brad Hand, have also moved on to other teams, so hopes are not high heading into this season for Cleveland.

On the other side, Detroit is most likely going to finish in last place in the American League Central once again. The Tigers, who don’t have a lot of talent on their roster, will likely be looking at getting another top pick in the MLB Draft. Detroit will send Matt Boyd to the mound to get the season underway, but it’s going to be a long summer in Detroit.

Offensive Matchup

Cleveland Indians

In the shortened 2020 season, Cleveland featured one of the league’s worst offenses. The Indianas finished 26th in wOBA and wRC+, plus they hit the third fewest home runs in baseball. Now, they’ve lost Lindor and Carlos, who were two of their best hitters last season.

They still have one of the best sluggers in Jose Ramirez, who has consistently finished inside the top 10 in almost every major statistical category. They also added Amed Rosario and Eddie Rosario, which should help. Yet, outside of Ramirez, things are looking pretty bleak for the Indians.

Cleveland struggled against left-handed pitching last season, hitting below .230 and finished in the bottom 10 of the league in wOBA and wRC+. So, Boyd might actually be effective on Opening Day.

Detroit Tigers

While the Tigers lack an elite hitter, they’re at least average from top to bottom. Adding Robbie Grossman, Wilson Ramos and Nomar Mazara in the offseason will at least provide Detroit with more depth. Jeimer Candelario and Willi Castro will be the Tigers’ best hitters, as they were the only guys with a wOBA over .370 last season.

A lot of the Tigers success last season came against left-handed pitching, as they led MLB with a .321 average and .380 wOBA. However, they really struggled versus righties, hitting for only a .227 average, while also ranking 28th in wOBA.

So, Shane Bieber should be able to mow down the Tigers lineup.

Starting Pitching Matchup

Shane Bieber vs. Matthew Boyd

2021 ZIPS Projected Stats (via Fangraphs)

Shane Bieber, RHP

2020 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

There’s no doubting Bieber was the best pitcher in baseball in 2020. He led all qualified starters with a 2.04 xFIP and a ridiculous 14.20 K/9 rate.

Bieber was dominant with his off-speed pitches, as he only allowed opposing hitters to hit for a .094 combined average against his curveball, slider and changeup. When you watch some of his offseason film, you can see why hitters struggled so much.

Shane Bieber’s curveball is beautiful

— Brent Maguire (@bmags94) August 9, 2020

His fastball is a little above average — it has decent velocity — but his location is fantastic. Bieber’s heater is producing a 25.7% whiff rate and 43 strikeouts. The only pitch Detroit had success against last season was fastballs, so I’d imagine we will see a heavy dose of off-speed pitches from Bieber.

Matthew Boyd, LHP

2020 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Boyd is mainly a fastball/slider guy, but boy, did he really struggle with both of those pitches in last season. Boyd throws his fastball more than 50 percent, allowing opposing hitters to bat .322 with a .433 wOBA. His slider was his best pitch coming into the 2020 season, but it seems hitters have figured it out, because he allowed eight extra base hits and a .378 wOBA.

The good news for Boyd in this matchup is because not only did Cleveland desperately struggle versus left-handed pitching, but it was also one of the worst teams against both fastballs and sliders last season. So, if Boyd is able to find some better control on his two main pitches, then he could be effective against this Cleveland lineup.

Bullpen/Defensive Matchup

The Indians bullpen lost their closer and one of their best relievers in the offseason, so expect them to take a step back from being ranked as the fourth-best bullpen in terms of xFIP. However, new closer James Karinchak is ready to take over the role, as he was one of the best swing-and-miss pitchers in baseball last season, boasting 53 strikeouts in only 27 innings.

Detroit’s bullpen will once again be a disaster after finishing near the bottom of baseball in just about every statistical category. The Tigers didn’t make any upgrades, so if they somehow get a lead on Bieber it will not be safe going into the later innings.

Indians-Tigers Pick

If Bieber had some support from his lineup, the Indians would be much bigger favorites on Opening Day. However, Detroit’s lineup is not as bad as I think most people are projecting them to be and could get to Bieber’s fastball.

Therefore, I am going to go against the grain and back the Tigers Team Total Over 2.5 runs at -120 odds via DraftKings as my top pick.

Pick: Tigers Team Total Over 2.5 runs (-120)

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