Last night’s MLB pick netted us another winner as the Mets took down the Phillies with relative ease.
Marcus Stroman indeed out-dueled Chase Anderson and the former hurled six innings of one-run ball with the latter having a decent effort with five innings of two-run ball. It was the Phillies’ bullpen that regressed, however, as Vince Velasquez allowed four runs in his 1.1 innings while David Hale surrendered a two-run shot from Pete Alonso.
The Mets’ bullpen did give up a pair of earned runs themselves, but the Mets cruised to an 8-4 win in this one and we move to 2-0 on the season in the process.
Let’s look to make it three in a row as we dial in on the Twins vs. Tigers in an afternoon contest from Comerica Park in Detroit!
- Season Record: 2-0
- Units: +2.00
Twins vs. Tigers Betting Odds
- Twins (-168)
- Tigers (+155)
- Twins -1.5 (-112)
- Tigers +1.5 (-108)
- Over 8 (-118)
- Under 8 (-102)
Twins vs. Tigers MLB Pick Breakdown
The Twins will send their Opening Day starter Kenta Maeda back to the hill for his second start of the season as he’ll look to get deeper into this one than he did in the opener in Milwaukee.
He pitched well in Milwaukee, allowing just one earned run, but also went just 4.1 innings as the pitching count was driven up to 88 thanks to six hits, two walks and five strikeouts. Getting deep into starts was a problem while with the Dodgers as he bounced back from the bullpen to the rotation, but Maeda went at least six innings in eight of 11 starts last season and at least five innings in all 11 outings in 2020, so he’s certainly been given a longer leash with the Twins.
Of course, he’s also coming off a career-year despite the small sample as Maeda worked to a 2.70 ERA/3.00 FIP/2.73 xERA across his 66.2 innings last season with an 8.00 K/BB rate that ranked second in all of baseball. His 1.35 BB/9 was a career-best figure while his 10.80 K/0 fell just short of the 10.99 mark he posted with L.A. in 2018.
Maeda gave up just 13.3% hard contact and zero barrels in his Opening Day start in Milwaukee, according to FanGraphs, largely building on what was a brilliant 2020 season in the process.
After exploding for 15 runs in the series opener on Monday, the Twins were held to just three in Wednesday’s extra-inning loss as they look to bounce back heading into this afternoon’s rubber match.
It’s a Twins offense that was among the best in baseball and set an MLB home run record in the 2019 season, but one that sank to the middle of the puck during the truncated 2020 campaign.
That said, it’s a lineup that combines contact and patience with power. The Twins have given Tigers pitchers fits with their patience and ability to foul off tough pitches and they have the lowest chase rate in all of baseball here in the early going.
The power portion of the lineup is largely come from Nelson Cruz who continues to crush the Tigers. All Cruz has done in this series is homer three times, double and drive in six as part of his six hits across 11 trips to the plate. Cruz has also hit the warning track twice in the series. In his career against the Tigers, Cruz owns a .927 OPS with 26 home runs in just 109 games. However, at Comerica Park, Cruz owns a 1.024 OPS with 20 homers in just 58 games. He just crushes Detroit, in Detroit.
The Twins have averaged 6.6 runs per game in five games this season, but that number comes down to 4.50 if we exclude the 15-run output to open the series. That said, this still looks like more of the 2019 Twins so far than the 2020 version.
The Twins’ bullpen was one of the better groups in baseball in each of the last two seasons, but losing some key arms puts the 2021 version into question.
Important, high-leverage arms such as Trevor May, Tyler Clippard, Sergio Romo and Matt Wisler are no longer with the team this year, and all of those arms had nice years in helping the Twins rest well within the top-seven bullpen teams from last season.
They added closer Alex Colome in free agency and still high-leverage arms in Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers on board, and so far the results have been excellent as the results have been sold in the form of a 3.54 ERA/3.66 FIP/3.04 xFIP across 20.1 bullpen frames so far.
Maeda getting deep will be key in this one, however, as the Twins used five relievers in the 10-inning loss yesterday afternoon, including an inning each from the aforementioned Duffey and Rogers.
They’re off to a good start, but I’m still interested in watching this group moving forward to see if they can replicate — or come close to replicating — their excellent work from the past two seasons.
After a disastrous 2020 season that saw him post the worst qualified ERA in baseball, Tigers ace Matthew Boyd’s 2021 campaign started on a much better note.
Indeed, Boyd worked to an ugly 6.71 ERA across 60.1 innings last season while his peripherals weren’t any good despite being well under that ERA figure. FanGraphs pegged him with a 5.31 xERA in 2020, which obviously isn’t anything to write home about, either.
However, Boyd silenced the Cleveland Indians on Opening Day in frigid, snowy conditions. Boyd went 5.2 scoreless innings in that one, although he did dance around four walks while striking out just two. He only allowed three hits as well.
The command will certainly need to be better in this one against a superior Twins offense, but walks largely haven’t been an issue for Boyd, the owner of a career 2.90 BB/9 rate. Even in his forgettable 2020 season he posted a palatable 3.28 BB/9. Home runs have been his main issue with a career 1.68 HR/9, a number boosted my a massive 2.24 HR/9 a season ago.
It will be interesting to see if he can return to his strikeout ways. Boyd posted an 11.56 K/9 that ranked sixth in all of baseball in 2019, but dipped to 8.95 K/9 last year — a number far more similar to his 8.78 career mark. Was 2019 an aberration? Possibly. He’ll need his wipeout slider back, but Boyd has also worked hard on a changeup he hopes will keep hitters far more off-balance than they were a season ago.
The Tigers didn’t hit much last season on the whole, but their struggles come almost entirely versus right-handed pitching.
You may or may not have known this, but the 2020 Tigers, despite tying for 26th with a .303 wOBA on the season, were baseball’s best offense against left-handed pitching by way of their .380 wOBA off of them. They hit for far more power and struck out far less against lefties than they did righties.
Of course, their numbers against right-handers were brutal. The Tigers ranked 28th with a .285 wOBA against right-handed pitching while their enormous 28.2% strikeout rate against righties was the worst mark in the bigs.
They’ve added some new pieces that should help in Robbie Grossman while they’ll get a full season out of 2020 AL Rookie of the Year nominee Willi Castro.
However, the story of the Tigers’ season so far and perhaps the feel-good story in baseball so far has been the rise of one Akil Baddoo. Baddoo, 22, was picked third overall by the Tigers in this year’s Rule 5 draft. He was formerly the Twins’ 10th-ranked prospect who last played baseball in 2019 at the High-A level, hitting just .214 before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
However, the Tigers might have struck gold. After raking for five homers and four steals in the spring, Baddoo homered on the first MLB pitch he saw on Sunday before hitting a grand slam the following day against the Twins. What could he do for an encore yesterday? Hit the game-winning, walk-off single against his old club in his only plate appearance of the game after pinch-running earlier in the contest. He is starting in center field today.
— MLB (@MLB) April 5, 2021
That said, even with Baddoo’s heroics, the Tigers have averaged just 4.20 runs per game so far this season and have shown very little against right-hander starters as well.
The Tigers were projected to be one of, if not the worst bullpen in baseball this season, and that’s more or less been the case so far.
The entire staff was brutalized in the 15-6 loss on Monday, and while that group held tough yesterday, they danced around a ton of trouble in doing so.
For the season across five games, the Tigers’ bullpen owns an 8.22 ERA that ranks 28th in the league while their 6.57 FIP and 5.38 xFIP don’t exactly provide much hope, either. Their 2.74 HR/9 so far is the worst mark in baseball and they have struggled mightily with walks in the form of a 4.30 BB/9. A 35.2% ground-ball rate hasn’t helped, even in the pitcher-friendly Comerica Park.
The Tigers’ offense and starting pitching has seemingly improved with some top prospects and free agents now contributing, but this bullpen is likely doomed for bottom-five work this season.
Twins vs. Tigers MLB Pick
Until the Tigers — even the new-look Tigers — show they can hit right-handed pitching at least somewhat adequately, it’s mighty tough to back them against most right-handed starting pitchers.
That’s especially true when it comes to a 2020 Cy Young candidate as Maeda is in a really nice spot to succeed here today.
On the flip side, the jury is out on how Boyd could fare today. The recent walk and home run issues are a no-go, but I’m also look at the Twins’ starting lineup and their career .215 average and .695 OPS off Boyd and thinking he has a chance to pitch well here.
That said, with Maeda going just 4.1 innings his last time out and Boyd unlikely to get deep against a pesky Twins lineup — plus the power — the bullpens should have a big say in this one.
Simply put, we can’t trust this Tigers bullpen yet. To me, that eliminates any play on the Tigers moneyline or the under as they were pummelled by Minny on Monday and danced around a ton of traffic despite winning the rematch yesterday.
With Maeda going against a Tigers team that struggles against righties, I’m willing to hit the run line here and take the Twins -1.5 at -112 odds.