Tigers vs. Athletics MLB Odds & Picks: Will Oakland Sweep the Series? (Sunday, April 18)
Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Bassitt.
- The A's look to stay on and win an eighth straight game on Sunday in the finale against the Tigers.
- Chris Bassitt starts for Oakland, which may have an edge against Detroit lefty Matthew Boyd.
- Tanner McGrath lays out why he's backing the Athletics to seal the series sweep.
Tigers vs. Athletics Odds
|Time||Sunday, 4:07 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via PointsBet|
While Akil Baddoo and the Tigers looked like an early season surprise story, the Athletics have shut them up this series. Oakland won the first three of this four-game series by a combined tally of 18-4.
The Tigers will attempt to avoid embarrassment in the finale behind southpaw Matt Boyd. Meanwhile, the A’s will look to pick up a sweep behind Opening Day starter Chris Bassitt.
Let’s dig into this matchup, as Oakland goes for an eighth straight win.
While Detroit has looked rough in this series, the 6-9 Tigers have largely exceeded preseason expectations, at least so far. The Tigers took two of three from Cleveland to open the season and most recently swept the Astros in Houston.
For a team mostly devoid of high-end talent, two bats have stepped up huge for Detroit this season. Baddoo and Wilson Ramos have already combined for 10 home runs so far and both boast an OPS above 1.000 and a wOBA above .425. What’s fun is that Baddoo is a rookie bursting onto the scene while Ramos is attempting to resurrect his career after 12 seasons in the show. No matter the age, the two have stepped up huge in early 2021.
It’s not that important, but it’s worth noting that Miguel Cabrera is battling a biceps injury and will miss this game and the next series against the Pirates.
While the Tigers’ pitching staff has posted abysmal numbers, Casey Mize, Michael Fulmer and Boyd all pitched very well in wins over the Astros.
Starting Pitcher: Matt Boyd (LHP)
After three starts and an excellent spring training, Boyd is throwing the ball as well as he ever has.
Since the beginning of exhibition games, Boyd has allowed just nine earned runs on 31 hits over 37 2/3 innings while striking out 33 and walking just nine.
Boyd has a five-pitch arsenal but mainly relies on a four-seam fastball, slider and changeup. He doesn’t throw very hard, averaging just under 92 mph on his fastball, so he doesn’t miss a lot of bats.
However, Boyd has been in control more than ever this season with a walk rate that would be the lowest of his career. Plus, he’s managed to force a lot of weak contact. He’s averaging the lowest exit velocity of his career and has only allowed one barrel.
Overall, it’s been a superb start to 2021 for the 30-year-old Boyd.
After an abysmal 0-6 start to the season, the A’s have found their stride again.
Saturday’s 7-0 victory marks the seventh straight win for Oakland. The A’s have posted a run differential of plus-28 over this streak and have looked unstoppable against the Tigers, Diamondbacks and Astros on the way.
So what did the A’s start doing right?
Well, Oakland started the season playing the Astros and Dodgers, which is never easy. Then, the A’s played the Astros again and started their winning streak after dropping the opener. Series against the D-backs and Tigers were just what the doctor ordered.
However, Oakland has played much better regardless of the opponent.
After posting a .522 OPS and 55 wRC+ in their first seven games, the A’s posted a .746 OPS and a 115 wRC+ in the last seven. Plus, after posting a 5.75 FIP and a 1.65 WHIP in the first seven games, the pitching staff has dropped to a 2.9 FIP and a 1.11 WHIP since.
Jed Lowrie has been phenomenal in the early going. After an abysmal, injury-riddled 2019-20, Lowrie has opened 2021 by slashing .360/.439/.560 with two home runs and 12 RBIs. I can only imagine how furious Mets fans must be right now.
Starting Pitcher: Chris Bassitt (RHP)
After a career year in 2020, Bassitt has looked shaky in the early going. Through three starts, Bassitt has a 4.96 ERA, 5.22 FIP and 1.41 WHIP. He also lost the first two games against the Astros and Dodgers, both at home.
Bassitt’s control hasn’t been great, allowing eight walks in 16 1/3 innings so far. That 11.1% walk rate would be the highest of his career. Moreover, his 11 strikeouts during that stretch equal just a 15.3% K rate, which would be the lowest of his career.
Bassitt primarily relies on a sinker, cutter and four-seam fastball. However, none of the pitches travel faster than an average 93 mph, and his 39.2 hard-hit percentage would be the highest of his career.
I wouldn’t expect Bassitt to struggle this mightily for the entirety of the 2021 season, but his woes so far are undeniable.
This is a tough game to cap. The A’s bats have found their stride, but Boyd is pitching lights out at the moment.
However, there are two things that sway me toward Oakland.
First, the Tigers’ bullpen has been atrocious. Detroit’s relief corps currently is dead last in MLB in ERA (7.64) and xFIP (5.33), and it’s second-last in WHIP (1.67).
Second, for all the A’s offensive woes to begin this season, they’ve been great against left-handed pitchers so far. The A’s have a .819 OPS, a .352 wOBA and a 130 wRC+ against southpaws this season, all of which rank in the top seven in MLB.
I played the A’s at -139 on PointsBet, where they’re -140 at the time of publication. I really like Oakland to win, but I would be cautious playing them at anything worse than that.
Pick: Athletics -140 or better