Tigers vs. Athletics MLB Odds & Picks: Bet Oakland to Down Detroit on Saturday (April 17)
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Casey Mize.
- The Tigers and A's continue their four-game series at the Coliseum on Friday night.
- Casey Mize, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, is pitching for Detroit, but the A's offer a challenge for the young starter.
- Kevin Davis explains why he fancies Oakland to capitalize on Detroit's bad bullpen.
Tigers vs. Athletics Odds
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On Thursday night, the Oakland Athletics hosted the Detroit Tigers. For that game I wrote an article backing the A’s as heavy favorites. The Athletics won, and I expect the same to happen on Saturday afternoon when both teams meet again.
Both Oakland and Detroit are similar in that they started off the season poorly but have played well recently. What makes these teams different is in how their seasons are likely to end.
The Tigers are likely to eventually finish last in the AL Central while the A’s are likely to finish close to the top of the AL West and potentially make the playoffs. Oakland is a better team than Detroit, and they should win. At the modest price of -130, the price is right on the Oakland A’s as my model says that they should be -165 favorites.
The best reason to bet against the Tigers this season is because of their lineup. Detroit averages only 4.08 runs per game which is the 10th fewest in the league. Further hurting the Tigers is the absence of DH Miguel Cabrera due to an injury. While Cabrera is past his prime as a 37 year-old, he is surprisingly one of the Tigers best offensive players. Based on my model, Cabrera’s absence will cost the Tigers .16 runs per game.
With or without Cabrera, there are no above-average offensive players in the Detroit lineup. Without Cabrera there are only three average offensive players in the Tigers lineup, OF Robbie Grossman, 3B Jeimer Candelario and OF Nomar Mazara. While 22-year old rookie OF Akil Baddoo has been impressive in 31 at-bats this season, I anticipate him reverting to the mean as a rookie and performing below average offensively for the remainder of the season. One of the things that makes baseball a crazy sport is that frequently players get on hot streaks and then quickly go back to performing the way that they were expected to perform.
In addition to the Tigers lineup being a liability, their pitching might be a liability as well. The starting pitcher for the Tigers on Saturday is Casey Mize, the former first overall pick from the 2018 MLB Draft. Mize certainly is an intriguing prospect, but if he played for a team with more pitching depth, he would probably still be in the minors as he requires more seasoning.
In 2020 as a rookie, Mize had a 6.99 ERA and a 5.37 xFIP. This season in two starts Mize has a 0.82 ERA, and a 4.12 xFIP which strongly suggests that he will regress to an above-average pitcher at best. Before the season started, Mize was projected to have a 4.72 ERA.
What should be the most concerning for the Tigers is that Mize averaged only about four innings per start last season. Currently the Detroit bullpen has a collective ERA of 7.20 which is the worst in the league. With Mize not likely to pitch for most of the game, I would not trust the Tigers bullpen against a dangerous Oakland A’s lineup.
The Oakland lineup is so strong that only four of their players are worse than the Tigers’ best offensive player. Even though the Athletics are averaging only 4.31 runs per game, which is only .23 more runs per game than the Tigers, over a long season they are likely to score more runs per game than they are scoring now. Based on their likely lineup for Thursday’s game, my model projects the A’s to average 4.79 runs per game over the course of a full season.
With a lineup containing OF Mark Canha, OF Ramón Laureano, 3B Matt Chapman and 1B Matt Olson, Oakland should have no problem producing runs over the course of a full season. Against Casey Mize and the Tigers bullpen, Oakland should do very well on Saturday night.
The weakness of the A’s is in their pitching. Oakland’s bullpen has the fifth-worst ERA in the league, and not all their starting pitchers are terribly good. Their starting pitcher for Saturday, Cole Irvin, has gotten off to a rough start this season. Irvin has an 0-2 record with a 7.45 ERA after only two starts. However, Irvin has an xFIP almost two runs lower than his ERA. That is why I am not too worried about Irvin on Saturday especially when you factor in Detroit’s lineup.
For whatever reason the Oakland A’s are only -130 favorites for Saturday’s game. I suspect that the line will move before the first pitch, but I would still play the Athletics moneyline up to -150.
Oakland’s weakness is in their pitching, while Detroit’s is their hitting. If the Tigers cannot produce runs, then they are likely to lose as their bullpen is vulnerable in five innings against a strong A’s lineup. That is why I like Oakland on Saturday.
Pick: Oakland Athletics Moneyline (-130), would bet up to -150