Tigers vs. Indians MLB Odds & Picks: How to Find Value AL Central Matchup (Saturday, April 10)
Ralph Freso/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Civale of the Indians.
- Cleveland and Detroit have already evenly split four games against one another this season.
- In every meeting, the teams have scored fewer than 4.5 runs in the first five innngs.
- Tanner McGrath thinks it will happen again on Saturday.
Tigers vs. Indians Odds
|Time||6:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday night and via PointsBet.|
The Indians picked up a wire-to-wire victory over the Tigers on Friday. Franmil Reyes hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, and Cleveland never looked back.
However, it wasn’t the most entertaining game. Between the second and sixth innings, neither team scored a run.
I’m expecting to see more uninspired offensive baseball between Detroit and Cleveland on Saturday. If it shapes up to be an unwatchable, low-scoring battle, that still provides plenty of value for bettors.
Let’s dig into where that value lies.
Here’s a fun fact about the Tigers: Against left-handed pitching on the road in 2020, the Tigers posted the highest OPS, wOBA and wRC+ in baseball. The Tigers lineup posted a 163 wRC+ in such situations.
Here’s another fun fact about the Tigers: Detroit’s 2020 offense was above only against left-handed pitching on the road. Otherwise, the Tigers finished in the bottom 10 in all three of the aforementioned statistics.
The offense has similarly been below average this season as well. Through six games, the Tigers rank 17th in OPS, 17th in wOBA and 16th in wRC+. Detroit is just 2-4 to the over while scoring only 3.8 runs per game, which ranks 19th in the league.
However, Tigers did steal two of three from the Indians at Comerica Park to start the season. Plus, the emergence of Akil Baddoo has been overly exciting for the Detroit fanbase.
Through just four games this season, Baddoo has seven RBIs on five hits over just 11 plate appearances. He homered on his very first Major League pitch and then hit a grand slam the next night. Finally, he smacked a walk-off single against his old organization, Minnesota, on Tuesday.
Hopefully, Detroit will rally around Baddoo for the foreseeable future.
Starting Pitcher: Tarik Skubal
Pitching has been a big issue in Detroit, both this season and last.
However, Skubal has had flashes of brilliance on the mound for the Tigers. He allowed just two runs on four hits in his 2021 debut, pitching 5 1/3 innings against these Indians. Plus, he had an excellent spring training.
2020 was a tough year for Skubal, but his xERA and xFIP were both a full run lower than his actual ERA and FIP. Therefore, it’s fair to expect some positive regression for Skubal in 2021.
Skubal is a fastball pitcher, and he loves to strike guys out.
The southpaw throws his four-seam fastball on more than 60% of his pitches with an average velocity of 94.8 MPH, per BrooksBaseball.
Playing with Detroit’s AA team in 2019, Skubal made nine starts and averaged a whopping 17.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Last season, Skubal made seven big league starts and averaged 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Indians have had an underwhelming start to their season.
They aren’t doing anything special offensively, only averaging 3.4 runs per game and boasting completely average offensive metrics.
Cleveland’s lineup had a particularly bad 2020, finishing in the bottom 10 in OPS and wOBA while posting a wRC+ of just 87. Against lefties (i.e. Tarik Skubal), the Indians were no better or worse.
This season, however, I think there’s hope for the Cleveland offense. In early-season play, the Indians rank fifth in hard hit percentage, per Baseball Savant, while also having one of the worst BABIPs in the league (.227).
Cleveland finally managed to score a few runs Friday, and hopefully those hard-hit balls start to find the gaps rather than the gloves.
Starting Pitcher: Aaron Civale
Civale was excellent against the Tigers last Sunday, throwing seven full innings and allowing just two hits. Unfortunately, both were home runs resulting in three total runs.
Civale was a workhorse in 2020, pitching 74 innings over twelve starts. He posted an ERA of 4.74, a WHIP of 1.32 and ended up with a lackluster 4-6 record.
However, Civale’s xERA and xFIP were both lower than his actual numbers, and he even posted a FIP- of 92.
Civale excels at one thing in particular — he never walks guys. He allowed less than two walks per nine innings last season and finished in the 89th percentile among qualified starters in walk percentage.
Civale also has a full arsenal at his disposal. He threw a sinker, cutter, curveball, slider and changeup at least 115 times last season. His changeball was his most effective pitch, where opposing batters had just a .105 average on 118 attempts.
The Tigers and Indians have played four times this season, and the first five innings have stayed under 4.5 runs every time. I’m expecting the same today.
First, both these offenses are clearly struggling. While Cleveland may be hitting the ball hard, I’m not expecting them to tee off today.
That’s because Skubal is a fastball pitcher, and the Indians lineup doesn’t hit fastballs well. They finished 27th in wFB last season and currently rank 27th in that stat in early season play. And, against Skubal last Sunday, the Indians didn’t start really scoring until the bullpen came in.
As long as Civale can pitch as well as he did last Sunday, I don’t see how either team strings together runs until the bullpens come in.
I played first five u4.5 runs at -105 on PointsBet Friday night. I’d play this under up to -115.
Pick: First Five u4.5 (-105)