Pirates vs. Tigers MLB Odds & Picks: Expect Poor Pitching in Doubleheader Finale (April 21)
Justin Berl/Getty Images. Pictured: Mitch Keller.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers are set to play a day/night double-header Wednesday after a postponement due to snow.
- MLB contributor Mike Iannielo previews the matchup, including his bets for Game 1 and Game 2 of the series.
Pirates vs. Tigers Game 1 Odds
|Time||6:40 p.m. ET|
Ah yes, the classic baseball game getting canceled because of snow, in mid-April. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers will now play a doubleheader on Wednesday, with the first seven-inning game starting at 2:10 p.m. and the second starting at 6:40 p.m.
The Battlin’ Buccos have been better than most expected early this season, and are 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Pirates took two of three from the Cubs, split a four-game set with the Padres, and most recently won two of three against the Brewers.
Detroit on the other hand, is coming off a four-game sweep in Oakland. The Tigers were shutout in two of the four games and were outscored 21-6.
Temperatures are expected to be in the low 40’s at Comerica Park for Wednesday’s doubleheader.
Tyler Anderson will start Game 1 for Pittsburgh and his coming off his best start of the year, allowing one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Padres.
Anderson has a 4.02 ERA through three starts this year and has a 4.63 career ERA. Anderson has thrown his cutter 34.9% of the time this season, up dramatically from 18.1% last year. It has been his best pitch this year, allowing a .217 batting average against it. He throws his 4-seam fastball just 90 mph and it has been hammered to a .368 batting average against.
In the night cap, the Buccos will deploy Mitch Keller who hopes to bounce back from a disastrous last start. Keller gave up seven runs in 3 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out just one. Keller has allowed a 51.4 Hard Hit% this year, the eighth highest in the league.
Keller has just 19 career starts under his belt, and early in his career has either experienced great luck or horrible luck, based on drastically different ERA and xFIP. In 2019, Keller had a 7.13 ERA but 3.47 xFIP, signaling bad luck. In 2020, he got the good luck, with a 2.91 ERA but 6.57 xFIP. So far in 2021, he has a 8.74 ERA but a more promising 5.37 xFIP.
On paper, the Pirates lineup might seem very underwhelming, especially without Ke’Bryan Hayes. But the Pirates rank in the top half of the league in batting average and in wOBA.
Bryan Reynolds leads the way with a .317 batting average, and Adam Frazier (.305) and Colin Moran (.298) are off to fantastic starts as well. Moran has four home runs and 13 RBI’s and currently has a .413 wOBA, good for 20th in the league.
The Pirates will face a pair of right-handed starters on Wednesday and they have been excellent against right-handed pitching this season, ranking in the top 10 in the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, wOBA and wRC+ against righties.
The Tigers will send Michael Fulmer to the hill for Game 1. After battling injuries the last two years, Fulmer earned his first win since June 14, 2018 in his last outing. Fulmer went five innings, allowing two runs on three hits. It was Fulmer’s first start of the season, after starting the year in the bullpen and making three appearances in relief.
Fulmer has a terrific slider that he throws 35% of the time and has a 31.3% swing-and-miss rate with it. He has a 50% K% with his slider this season. The concern with Fulmer is he has not pitched more than five innings in a game since 2018. That could spell trouble for the Tigers bullpen, which has been the worst in baseball.
In Game 2, Spencer Turnbull will make his first start of the season. Turnbull went 4-4 last season and posted a 3.97 ERA in 11 starts, but had a 5.48 xERA.
Turnbull’s 2021 debut was delayed because he tested positive for COVID-19 in early March. Turnbull made just three starts during Spring Training and said he “didn’t pick up a baseball or leave quarantine for three weeks … and lost 10 points of muscle mass.”
Manager A.J. Hinch said Turnbull is not ready to throw five-to-six innings and is expected to be on a 75-to-85 pitch count. Which again, could spell trouble for the worst bullpen in baseball.
The Tigers bullpen ranks last in the league with a 6.99 collective ERA, 5.11 xFIP and 2.28 HR/9 rate. The Detroit relievers have allowed 45 runs in 55 innings this season.
The Detroit offense had gone ice cold long before yesterday’s snow. The Tigers rank 27th in runs per game and have scored just two runs in their last three games. They rank 25th in batting average, 26th in wRC+ and 28th in wOBA. Detroit has a 27.9% strikeout rate, the fourth highest this year.
When you look at how these two teams have played over the last week, it’s clear the Pirates currently have the superior offense. As an added bonus, the Buccos will face two right-handed pitchers, and have been especially good against righties this year, ranking top 10 in the league.
The Tigers on the other hand, will face the left-handed Tyler Anderson in Game 1. Detroit has been the worst team in baseball against lefties by a wide margin, batting just .176 with a .225 wOBA and 42 wRC+.
This could be a long afternoon for the Tigers as they could be forced to rely on the worst bullpen in baseball in both games. Fulmer hasn’t lasted more than five innings since 2018 and Turnbull is coming off a COVID quarantine and A.J. Hinch said he will be on a pitch count.
I like the Pirates in Game 1 with a left-hander on the mound against Detroit’s lineup. I would back them at anything +105 or better.
See how early the Tigers need to go to their bullpen in the first game. If Fulmer gets pulled before the fifth inning, I will look to back the over in Game 2.
With a struggling Keller pitching for the Pirates, and Turnbull on a pitch count before the worst bullpen in baseball takes over, I’ll play the over up to 6.5.
Pick: Game 1: Pittsburgh Pirates ML (+110) | Game 2: Over 6 (-120)