The Detroit Tigers took game one from the Cleveland Guardians and second place in the AL Central. It is time to continue our MLB odds series with a Tigers-Guardians prediction, pick, and how to watch.
Yesterday Jose Ramirez drove in the first run of the game, hitting into a double play, but scoring a run. The Tigers fought back though, manufacturing three runs on three singles and a double to take the lead in the third. They added another run in the fourth, and Ramirez hit a long homerun to left-center in the bottom of the inning to get the Guardians to within two. That would be the end of the Cleveland scoring though, as Tigers relievers finished out the last 3.1 innings giving up three hits and no runs in the process. Despite having one of the worst offenses in the majors, the Tigers have now won six of seven and sit just 2.5 games back of the Twins for first in the AL Central.
Here are the Tigers-Guardians MLB odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
MLB Odds: Tigers-Guardians Odds
Detroit Tigers: +1.5 (-120)
Cleveland Guardians: -1.5 (+100)
Over: 7.5 (-106)
Under: 7.5 (-114)
How To Watch Tigers vs. Guardians
Time: 6:10 PM ET/ 3:10 PM PT
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Why The Tigers Could Cover The Spread
The Tigers have not been above .500 yet this year and started the season 10-17. In that time, the offense struggled, scoring just one run in seven games and being shut out once. They were averaging just 3.36 runs per game, and struggling. Since then, they have averaged 5.57 runs per game. The difference of two runs more of scoring would have already won them four more games this year, and the club would be above .500. The biggest issue has been driving in runs in the scoring position. They have to do better at driving batters home when they are in scoring position. Last night they went five for 14, batting .357. On the season they are batting just .214, but that has risen over the last seven games.
Ultimately, this will improve if the Tigers can have star players make strides here. First needs to be Spencer Torkelson. He is hitting just .194 with runners in scoring position this year and has just one extra-base hit in 39 plate appearances. His struggles in these situations are nothing new though, as last year he hit .178 in these situations. Javier Baez and Riley Greene are leading the team in these situations though. Greene is hitting .357 while driving in 11 runs and slugging .500. Baez is hitting .345 with 13 RBIs while slugging .517. The more players like Akil Baddoo, Matt Vierling, and Spencer Torkelson can get toward that production, the more the Tigers will win.
The Tigers will be sending Michael Lorenzen to the mound in this one. In his four starts on the year, he is 1-1 with a 5.14 ERA. He started the season poorly, going four innings and giving up six in his first start. The second start of the year was a five-scoreless inning performance, but a no-decision as the Tigers only scored one run in the entire game. It was back to struggle for game three, with five runs scored in five innings, but once again he rebounded, giving up just one run in seven innings last time out. If he can find some consistency, the Tigers will have a very solid pitcher and a chance to win again.
Why The Guardians Could Cover The Spread
While the Tigers have struggled to score runs, the same can be said of the Guardians. The Guardians have scored 124 runs this year, which is 29th in the majors, and just behind the Tigers, the big difference has been the recent stretch of games. While the Tigers are starting to score more, the Guardians are not. In their last ten games, the Guardians are scoring just 2.9 runs per game. That is heavily weighted by an 8-7 loss though, and if that is removed it is just 2.44 runs per game in nine games.
Beyond Jose Ramirez, who has a slash line of .367/.500/.733 with runners in scoring position, much of the lineup has struggled in those situations. Mile Straw is hitting just .250 while striking out eight times. Amed Rosario has grounded into three double plays, struck out 11 times, and driven in just five runs. Josh Bell has driven in 11 RBIs with runners in scoring position, but also hitting just .243. In the category of sOPS+, which measures performance compared to the league average in a situation with 100 being the league average, only two players are over 100 on the season. It is a major area of needed improvement for the Guardians.
Maybe today, they will not need as much run support, as Shane Bieber is going to the mound. In his seven starts this year, Bieber is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA. He has given up two or three runs in his last six starts though. While he is not giving up a ton of runs, always limiting the other team below four, he is also not getting a lot of run support. In his five games that he either lost or had a no-decision, Bieber has gotten just 13 runs of support.
Final Tigers-Guardians Prediction & Pick
Yesterday was the epitome of the two teams in terms of their run-scoring. The Tigers found a way to score runs, and the Guardians’ only run production came from Ramirez. With Bieber on the mound, the Guardians should only have to score four runs to get the win. The problem is, they have only done that three times in the last ten games. This game then will come down to Lorenzen. If he can pitch well, the Tigers will cover and win.
Final Tigers-Guardians Prediction & Pick: Tigers +1.5 (-120)