Although I took a day off from MLB picks yesterday, I’ve rattled off a cool 10 wins in a row, easily my hottest stretch of the entire big-league season.
With that in mind, let’s keep rolling with a Tigers vs. Rays MLB Pick from Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay!
*Odds courtesy of BetOnline
Tigers vs. Rays Betting Odds
|Tigers||+187||+1.5 (-110)||Over 8.5 (-107)|
|Rays||-204||-1.5 (-110)||Under 8.5 (-113)|
Tigers vs. Rays Starting Pitching Breakdown
The Tigers have dealt with numerous injuries to their rotation this season and have been forced to look in the minor leagues and the bullpen for some help in that area, and left-hander Tyler Alexander has been one of those arms to step up and deliver solid work out of the rotation.
A former long-reliever/spot starter, Alexander has made 11 starts and 37 appearance overall this season, pitching to a quality 4.09 ERA/4.50 FIP in the process. He’s not exactly a strikeout pitcher with a 7.64 K/9 or a ground-ball guy with a 37.2% mark on the season, but rather relies on pinpoint control with a 2.26 BB/9 on the season.
As a starter, Alexander has worked to a nice 3.68 ERA, although his 4.48 FIP/4.89 xFIP and 1,43 HR/9 should have him seeing some regression, if only a little but moving forward. With an overall 1.51 HR/9 on the season, the long ball has been his biggest issue, but not an entirely shocking one considering his 40.8% hard contact, 9.9% barrel rate and 44.1% fly-ball rates allowed, a recipe that equals an elevated numbers of homers surrendered.
Alexander’s last outing was a start over the weekend against the Rays, and he was solid in working 4.1 frames of one-run ball, and he’s actually allowed just three runs over his last three starts spanning 15 innings, and those are no easy starts against the well-above-average offenses of the Rays, Reds and Blue Jays.
While he’s pitched to a quality 3.92 ERA on the road this season, he also sports a 4.95 FIP/4.72 xFIP and 1.85 HR/9 outside of the pitcher-friendly Comerica Park in Detroit, so perhaps there’s indeed some regression to be had with Alexander this evening and/or beyond.
There’s not much to discuss when it comes to the Rays’ starting pitching situation tonight as they will use an opener and a bullpen game in this one as Louis Head gets the ball to start.
This marks just the second open of the season for Head as he pitched just one inning in his first one back on Aug. 18 against the Orioles, but also gave up two runs in that outing. He could reach two innings in this one as he’s done that on several occasions across his 23 MLB appearances this season while pitching to a 2.67 ERA/3.43 FIP in that time. Despite a tiny 28.7% ground-ball rate and mediocre 8.01 K/9 clip, he’s allowed just 0.59 HR/9 despite a 10% barrel rate and 62.5% fly-ball rate.
Head also made 24 relief appearances at Triple-A this season, posting a real nice 2.36 ERA/3.14 FIP in that time while once again suppressing the long ball to a 0.68 HR/9 clip.
Offense and Bullpen Notes
The Tigers haven’t exactly lit the world on fire offensively this season, but they’ve certainly surpassed expectations after finishing as one of the worst offenses in baseball over the last few seasons.
That was the case once again in April as the Tigers finished the season’s opening month as the worst offense in baseball by far, and it took until the second week of May to get going. Since May 8, the Tigers’ offense is tied with the Yankees for 14th with a .317 wOBA and tied for 17th with a .168 ISO. For what it’s worth, they also sit 12th with 56 stolen bases in that time.
Since May 7, the Tigers have quietly gone 61-52 with a +19 run differential in that time, so they’ve certainly been an extremely competitive ball club after a slow first five weeks of the season.
We took 4 out of 5 games from two of baseball's top-4 teams.
This homestand was a memorable one. ⬇️
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 16, 2021
While the offensive turnaround has been welcomed, the Tigers’ bullpen has quietly been one of the best in baseball of late.
Again, they finished an ugly month of April with the worst bullpen in baseball by a wide margin, but they’ve improved as the season’s moved along. Since the All-Star break, that group ranks third with a 3.39 ERA. Over the last two weeks, that bullpen owns a 3.69 ERA, so the work of late has been fantastic and quite surprising since the first month of the season.
Don’t look now, but the Rays have scored more runs than anyone in baseball this season with 781, a development few saw coming given the division they play in alongside the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Yankees, not to mention the Astros’ and Dodgers’ of the world.
A high strikeout rate has cut into some of their peripheral numbers as they rank 10th with a .320 wOBA on the season, but the Rays have brought plenty of thump to the table with a fifth-ranked .186 ISO on the season. They’ve also posted a .320 wOBA both at home and on the road, a number that sits 13th league wide at home.
Their season-long numbers lean towards hitting righties better than lefties, but with Wander Franco and Nelson Cruz brought on board around the trade deadline, the Rays actually rank first in baseball with a .418 wOBA at home against lefties since Aug 1, a 213 plate-appearance sample with a monster .278 ISO in that time.
Needless to say, the Rays’ bullpen has once again been one of the game’s best this season. Overall, they sit third in baseball with a 3.31 ERA on the season, and they’ve been almost identically as good since the All-Star break with a 3.40 ERA that sits just one point behind the Tigers in that time.
Given the bullpen game on tap for the Rays tonight, it should make for a difficult night for Tigers hitters.
- Tigers are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games
- Tigers are 5-1 in their last six games
- Under is 9-3-1 in the Tigers’ last 13 road games
- Under is 8-2-1 in the Tigers’ last 11 games as a road underdog
- Rays are 38-13 in their last 51 games as a home favorite
- Rays are 9-3 in their last 12 games during game one of a series
- Over is 9-4-1 in the Rays’ last 14 home games
- Over is 7-1-1 in the Rays’ last nine home games versus a team with a losing record
Head to Head
- Over is 3-0-1 in the last four meetings
- Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings in Tampa Bay
- Rays are 8-1 in the last nine meetings in Tampa Bay
Tigers vs. Rays MLB Pick
Obviously, the AL-leading Rays are going to be heavy home favorites against the 70-76 Tigers as there’s also a run differential well over 200 between the two clubs.
However, it was a similar story over the weekend when the Tigers took two of three from the Rays at Comerica Park in Detroit. While the Rays boast a nearly identical record at home and on the road, the Tigers are notably better at home with a 39-36 record at Comerica and just a 31-40 record on the road.
That said, it’s also the Tigers playing better baseball of the two teams at the moment, taking two of three from Tampa before a two-game sweep of the NL Central-leading Brewers over the last two days, good for three straight wins and five of the last six. Conversely, the Rays have dropped three of four and five of their last seven.
This is certainly a different Tigers team that the one the Rays have gone 8-1 against over their last nine in Tampa as well.
While the fact Tampa is raking lefties at home of late, I think the Tigers can hang tough in this matchup. Look no further than their 34-31 record against teams over .500 this season, a winning percentage of .523 not far below the Rays’ 531 mark.
As a result, I’ll grab the Tigers here on the run line at nice value.