Twins vs. Tigers MLB Odds & Picks: Fade Detroit’s Pitching Against Minnesota (Friday, May 7)
Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Donaldson.
- You won't find a matchup of fewer combined wins than Minnesota and Detroit, but that doesn't matter, so long as money can be made.
- The Tigers' bats finally woke up against one of the best pitching staffs in Boston, but they may not be enough to overcome their own pitching staff.
- See how Tanner McGrath is keeping this game interesting, focusing on the Twins Team Total.
Twins vs. Tigers Odds
|Time||7:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday night and via DraftKings.|
Baseball’s bottom feeders meet in this underwhelming weekend series. The Twins and Tigers own the two worst records in baseball, and both lost their most-recent series.
Now, Minnesota and Detroit will play a three-game series that I would entirely ignore if I wasn’t a baseball bettor. But there’s definitely value to be found in this series opener, and I’m willing to bet any game regardless of entertainment value.
That being said, let’s dive into my favorite play for this Twins-Tigers series opener.
The Twins’ 10-inning loss to the Rangers emphasized one of the crazier trends in baseball this season: Minnesota is 11-8 in 9-inning games this season, but 0-11 in 7-inning and extra-innings games this season.
Thus, the Twins are now 11-19 and would be in last place in the AL Central if it weren’t for their opponents today.
However, the Twins being 0-7 in extra-innings games this season can best be described as unlucky. Combine that with the way the Twins have been hitting the ball, and we absolutely shouldn’t expect Minnesota to play sub-.400 baseball for the rest of the season.
The Twins lineup currently boasts MLB’s third-highest average exit velocity (89.9 mph), second-highest hard-hit percentage (43.4%) and highest barrel percentage (10.5%). Moreover, the Twins offense ranks top 10 in OPS (.728), wOBA (.316) and wRC+ (106).
Byron Buxton and Nelson Cruz have been the leaders of Minnesota’s offensive attack. Specifically, Buxton, who might be the AL MVP if Mike Trout didn’t exist. Buxton has posted a 1.224 OPS and a .513 wOBA while being tied for second among players in WAR (2.4).
However, the Minnesota pitching staff hasn’t played very well, as their 4.43 FIP ranks 23rd in MLB, and their starting pitcher today doesn’t inspire much hope either.
Starting pitcher: Matt Shoemaker (RHP)
Shoemaker’s been unlucky in his career. Injuries have cut multiple seasons short and probably held him back from reaching his full potential.
But there’s one absolute certainty about Shoemaker’s career: He’s dominant against Detroit.
In seven career starts against the Tigers, Shoemaker is 5-1 with a .79 ERA and a .75 WHIP. He’s averaging just under 6 2/3 innings per start against the Tigers in his career.
Shoemaker’s most recent start against the Tigers was his 2021 debut back on April 5, where he pitched six innings while allowing just one run on three hits — an average outing for Shoemaker against the Tigers.
Unfortunately, much like his career, the rest of Shoemaker’s season has been a disaster.
In the four starts since his debut, Shoemaker has pitched just 17 innings, while posting an ERA above 10 and a WHIP around 2.0. He’s allowed a .347 BA and a 1.076 OPS during that stretch, and the Twins are 0-4 in those games.
What the Tigers offense did this week in Boston escapes all logic and reason.
The worst offense in baseball played one of the best pitching staffs (so far this season) in the league and lit them up. The Tigers scored 21 runs in the three-game series, amassing 35 hits.
But the Tigers are the worst team in baseball for a reason. Despite their inexplicable offensive effort, the Tigers’ bullpen and defense lost them the series.
The Tigers bullpen pitched 16 1/3 relief innings in the series and allowed 15 runs. The defense then committed six total errors in the series, including four horrific ones in the final game that, ultimately, cost Detroit the rubber match.
That’s the problem with the Tigers. Even when they play excellent in one area, they have to overcome so many other self-imposed obstacles to win. It’s why Detroit is 9-23 this season with a run differential of -68, both stats that are far-and-away the worst in baseball.
I could drone on about how bad the Tigers are. Like how their .604 OPS is lowest in the league, or how their 5.74 reliever FIP is the highest in the league, or how their -17 defensive WAR is worst in the league. But I would be beating a dead horse.
Instead, let’s investigate where the Tigers may provide value today: the pitching rotation. Detroit’s starters have actually been okay, as the Tigers rank 15th in starting pitcher ERA (4.08).
Starting pitcher: Tarik Skubal (LHP)
Unfortunately, Skubal is one of the worst pitchers on the Tigers staff. The poor Detroit fan base cannot catch a break.
After an excellent spring training and a solid 2021 season debut, I had high hopes for the southpaw’s season. But things went south in a hurry.
Skubal’s made three starts and five total appearances since his debut, pitching 16 2/3 total innings. He’s posted a 7.02 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP during that stretch, while struggling mightily with control (12 walks) and keeping the ball in the park (eight HRs).
The most perplexing thing about Skubal’s season is his strikeout rate. After striking out 48.2% of batters faced in AA ball in 2019 and then 27.6% during his rookie season last year, Skubal’s strikeout rate is just 17.3% this season. Moreover, his whiff rate on his fastball — which he throws more than 50% of the time — is down about 5% from last season.
And instead of missing bats, Skubal is allowing some of the most solid contact in the league. His 19.7% barrel percentage is in the bottom 3% of qualified pitchers.
Safe to say I have low expectations for Skubal tonight.
Initially, I was going to bet the over in this game. It seemed simple: two bad starters, two bad pitching staffs and two hot offenses.
However, Shoemaker’s dominance against Detroit is no joke, and I’m worried that the Tigers’ most recent breakout is a one-off.
I absolutely love the Twins team total over 4.5 runs. While most lineups can score on Skubal, I think the Twins lineup matches up exceptionally well with him.
First, because the Twins have been mashing southpaws lately. The lineup has posted an .864 OPS and 141 wRC+ against lefties over the past two weeks, both stats that rank top three during that timeframe.
Additionally, Skubal is heavily reliant on his four-seam, and Minnesota has been one of the best teams against the fastball. The Twins’ 16.4 weighted fastball runs created is fourth in MLB.
Plus, whenever Skubal exits the game, Detroit’s bullpen is exhausted following their series in Boston and is the worst grouping of relief arms in baseball. Whether the Twins are facing Skubal or the Tigers ‘pen, it’s a win-win for Minnesota.
I’m expecting the Twins bats to absolutely explode in this series opener. So, bet the Twins TT over 4.5 at the best price you can find and enjoy the fireworks on Friday night.
Pick: Twins TT o4.5. (-121 on DraftKings)