Thursday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Orioles vs. Tigers: Precarious Pitching Situations Square Off in Detroit (July 29)

Thursday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Orioles vs. Tigers: Precarious Pitching Situations Square Off in Detroit (July 29) article feature image
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Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Harold Castros

  • The Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers begin their series Thursday in Detroit.
  • Both offenses exploded Wednesday and the pitching staffs are in rough shape.
  • Michael Arinze previews the matchup below and makes his betting pick ahead of this showdown.

Orioles vs. Tigers Odds

Orioles Odds +135
Tigers Odds -155
Over/Under 10 (+100 / -120)
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Thursday morning and via DraftKings.

The Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers meet for the first time this season on Thursday night. Both teams come into this series in decent form, with the Tigers winning six of their last 10 games while the Orioles has won seven of their last 10.

A big part of their recent success can largely be attributed to their offensive production. That offensive prowess was on display Wednesday as Baltimore plated eight runs at home only to be outdone by a 17-run performance by Detroit on the road.

Scoring 17 runs is always impressive. The problem for the Tigers is they also allowed 14 runs. They needed to use five pitchers out of the bullpen after Wily Peralta failed to make it out of the fourth inning. That puts Detroit in a tough spot on Thursday especially considering their starter, Casey Mize, will likely be on an innings limit.

I’ll touch on that and much more as I detail how yesterday’s game could carry into today’s action at Comerica Park.

Early Signs Not Promising For Wells

Alexander Wells gets set to make his second career start and fourth appearance this season. The rookie left-hander is 1-0 after picking up a win in a relief role. He also carries a 4.35 ERA with a 1.55 WHIP. Though he’s only pitched 10 1/3 innings, his advanced numbers aren’t pretty as he has a 7.30 xERA and a 5.87 FIP. He’s also not a strikeout pitcher as his highest K/9 ratio was 7.74 in Triple-A.

Since his call-up, he’s had a 5.23 BB/9 ratio in the majors. I do, however, expect that number to come down with more games under his belt. He’s not a pitcher who has shown any signs of lingering command issues after 5+ years in the minors.

Wells has a unique story in that he signed with the Orioles as an international free agent at 19 in 2015. He’s a native of Australia, so his baseball development would have been somewhat different from what we see here in America with travel baseball and even at the college level for young adults.

Oftentimes, we hear about pitchers who’ve made mechanical changes that increased velocity. As a teenager in Low-A ball, Wells would have had access to plenty of pitching coaches in the Baltimore organization who would aid him with his mechanics. So I am a bit surprised that at the age of 24, his fastball only averages around 88.8 mph.

For a pitcher who doesn’t necessarily strike out a lot of hitters, you’d at least hope to see a decent number of ground balls. But that’s not the case for Wells, as his GB/FB ratio has been below 1.0 in three of his last four seasons in the minors. And in his four appearances in the majors, he has a 0.50 GB/FB ratio. So essentially, we have a pitcher who is below average in terms of strikeouts and groundball rate.

That, to me, sounds like a very precarious situation.

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No More Than Four Innings For Mize

Casey Mize got off to a good start this season in his second year in the majors. He allowed one run in his first 11 innings of work in April and even picked up his first major league win on the road against a good Astros team. He then finished the month by losing his next three starts before getting back on track in May.

Mize carried that momentum into June and recorded a quality start in four of his five outings. But because he was pitching deeper into games, his innings count increased, and the Tigers decided they would reduce his workload for the remainder of the year. This would keep him from having a large jump in innings compared to last season.

The decision to limit his innings might adversely affect Mize because his performances appear to be more uneven of late. In July, he’s allowed eight runs in 15 2/3 innings, whereas in June, he allowed 13 runs in 30 2/3 innings. This is clearly an adjustment he has to get used to, and he might need to include some changes in his pre-game preparation.

Nonetheless, we can’t expect to see him pitch more than four innings, which means that Detroit’s bullpen will need to spring into action when called upon.

Red is the dominant color when looking at the Tigers’ bullpen usage over the last three days. Five pitchers have thrown at least 35 pitches, three have thrown at least 45, and their closer, Gregory Soto, has thrown 66 pitches. Derek Holland and Jose Cisnero have thrown 26 and 27 pitches, respectively during that span, while Daniel Norris has thrown six pitches, and Michael Fulmer has thrown seven.

If we look at who could potentially log some innings on Thursday, the options really aren’t in Detroit’s favor. Norris has a 5.89 ERA, and the Tigers have made a point to limit Fulmer’s workload. Thus, he’s unlikely to pitch multiple innings.

Holland has an 8.44 ERA, and Cisnero has been their eighth-inning pitcher, so he’d probably slide into the ninth inning if Soto is unavailable.

As a result, I’m not sure how Detroit can go unscathed in the middle part of this game, given the possible rest some of their pitchers might need.

Orioles-Tigers Pick

I’ve gone through a few drafts of this preview already because of all the moving parts with Detroit’s starter and their bullpen issues at the moment. My model had a heavy lean to the Tigers in this matchup, and it projects a total of 9.65 runs.

There’s certainly a lot to unpack with Wells making his second career start and Mize likely limited to no more than four innings. And when we add Detroit’s bullpen situation, I think this game has a good shot to go over the total.

Baltimore’s bullpen (4.84 ERA) is only slightly better than that of Detroit’s (5.15 ERA), so it clearly has some problems of its own. The wind could also be a factor with 9 to 10 mph gusts out to the right field.

I think all the aforementioned factors will lead to some crooked numbers on the board for the Orioles.

I’ll play their team total of over 4.5 runs.

Pick: Orioles Team Total Over 4.5 (+105)

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