My losing streak reached three picks last night as the total between the Pirates and Cardinals went well under the low seven-run total.
It was surprising to me that the Cardinals couldn’t get to Cody Ponce, the owner of a 5.94 FIP/6.29 xFIP in his nine innings of big league work so far after posting a 5.30 ERA/5.39 FIP in Triple-A last season. What’s more surprising is that they also couldn’t get to a weak Pirates bullpen as the Pirates’ 22nd-ranked pitching staff went in and posted a shutout in their 2-0 win over the rival Cardinals.
That’s the way things go when you are in a rut, but let’s get out of that rut on a busy day in Major League Baseball!
Season Record: 15-9
Now let’s get things turned around with this free MLB pick featuring the Twins vs. Tigers in an AL Central tilt from Comerica Park in Detroit!
Twins vs. Tigers Betting Odds
- Twins (-168)
- Tigers (+155)
- Twins -1.5 (-102)
- Tigers +1.5 (-118)
- Over 7.5 (+103)
- Under 7.5 (-123)
Twins vs. Tigers MLB Pick Breakdown
The AL Central-leading Twins will hand the ball to right-hander Randy Dobnak for this one tonight, a pitcher who has dazzled so far in his brief big-league tenure.
After posting a sparkling 1.59 ERA last season across 28.1 innings, Dobnak has worked to a 1.78 mark this time around in 30.1 frames, spanning six starts.
While the surface ERA is excellent, there is plenty of cause for concern given his peripherals.
In addition to his tidy ERA, Dobnak also owns an identical 4.08 FIP and xFIP while he’s not fooling anyone at the plate with a 4.75 K/9. He’s allowed just a .226 BABIP on the season and has stranded an unsustainable 93.3% of his baserunners to this point, all despite allowing an elevated 43.6% hard hit rate on the season. He’s also the owner of a 4.42 SIERA for good measure.
While none of these numbers are horrendous, they are all well above his ERA figure and collectively point to some serious regression looming for the 25-year-old.
Entering the season as the Tigers’ ace and Opening Day starter, left-hander Matthew Boyd struggled mightily for much of the season so far.
He’s turned in an ugly 8.48 ERA on the season, and has allowed 42.9% hard contact, but the regression here figures to be on the positive side.
Coming off his best start of the season in which he hurled 5.1 frames of two-run ball against the Indians, most of Boyd’s numbers are well below his ERA and his strikeout stuff has been excellent of late.
Boyd also owns a 5.84 FIP and 4.59 xFIP on the season while his .373 BABIP against and 61.3% strand rate are well off his career marks of .301 and 70.4%, respectively.
Additionally, Boyd’s SIERA of just 4.29 is more than four earned runs lower than his ERA figure. That alone points to some significant positive regression on the horizon.
Boyd’s strikeout numbers are also trending towards his work from last season when he ranked sixth among qualified pitchers with an 11.56 K/9 on the season. Over his last two starts, he owns a 14.80 K/9 and now has a 10.36 K/9 on the season, but he’ll have to work on his command as his 3.45 BB/9 on the year is above his 2.86 career mark.
The Twins brought plenty of thunder to the dish last season when they set an MLB record with 307 home runs, and while they remain one of the more dangerous groups in the game, they have struggled against left-handed pitching this season.
Entering this one, the Twins rank 21st with a .302 wOBA versus lefties, but more stunning is the fact they also sit 29th with a .108 ISO against southpaws on the season. In other words, the Twins have actually been a light-hitting offense against left-handed pitching here in 2020 so far.
In addition, this is also a banged-up Twins offense.
Josh Donaldson is on the IL with a calf injury while the team most recently lost the likes of Mitch Garver and Byron Buxton to the IL as well, hurting the team both offensively and defensively as well. Finally, outfielder Max Kepler suffered a foot injury on Wednesday and is listed as day-to-day, leaving his status for today’s twin-bill up in the air. He almost certainly won’t be playing in both games, so perhaps they’ll save him for the second half of today’s twin-bill, if anything.
The Tigers went into an offensive funk during their nine-game losing streak not too long ago, but this has been one of the league’s better offenses of late after hanging seven runs on the Cubs in each of their last two games.
Over the last week, the Tigers rank sixth with a .363 wOBA as a team and have flexed some muscle as well with a .193 ISO in that span.
That said, for the season as a whole, they haven’t fared well against right-handed pitching as they rank 27th with a .294 wOBA versus righties, although they have been hitting for solid power against righties with a .175 ISO against them that is tied with the Phillies for 13th in the league.
Likely the most surprising statistic from the Tigers’ offense so far this season is the fact they rank first in baseball with a 43% hard hit%, as per Statcast, although FanGraphs has them tied for 25th with a 39.9% mark against right-handed pitching.
After finishing the 2019 season as a top-tier group, the 2020 Twins’ bullpen is doing yeoman’s work once again.
The Twins’ bullpen enters this one sporting a ninth-ranked 3.67 ERA on the season while their 4.16 xFIP checks in at eighth. Overall, their 1.7 bullpen fWAR ranks seventh.
Closer Taylor Rogers’ 4.76 ERA has been a disappointment, but his 2.10 FIP and 2.84 xFIP suggest better days ahead while the Tyler’s – Clippard and Duffey – have posted ERA figures of 0.90 and 0.75, respectively, across a combined 22 innings of work.
Teams would be wise to get a lead before facing off against this Twins bullpen.
After finishing last season as a bottom-five bullpen, the Tigers’ 2020 bullpen has fared much better, although they’re certainly not among the league’s best.
The team’s bullpen ranks 18th with a 4.68 ERA on the season, 17th with a 4.51 FIP and 15th with a 4.41 xFIP. They don’t strike out many at all with a 28th-ranked 7.74 K/9 on the season, but they’ve mitigated that figure but displaying excellent command in the form of top-ranked 2.54 BB/9 on the season.
The Tigers recently announced that right-hander Joe Jimenez is no longer the team’s designated closer and they’ll take the more modern approach of playing matchups at the back end of their bullpen.
It’s been the lesser-known arms getting the job done with the likes of Jose Cisnero, Bryan Garcia and Gregory Soto getting the Tigers through many of their bullpen innings while Jimenez has scuffled to a ugly 12.10 ERA/8.84 FIP in his 9.2 innings of work.
Twins vs. Tigers MLB Pick
While the first-place Twins are no-doubt the better ball club, I don’t see much value in them as heavy favorites in this one.
Their offense is missing key contributors at the moment and, as noted, hasn’t hit lefties well at all this season. In addition to Dobnak being due for a rough outing in the near future, I can’t rely on their offense or starter in this situation, especially has heavy favorites.
Rather, I see some value in Boyd coming off a turnaround outing while his strikeout stuff is really starting to show up after a slow start in that department, among other areas.
The offense is swinging the bat very well right now after a tough stretch and they’ve been able to hit for power for much of the season.
While the bullpen edge goes to Minnesota, the Tigers’ bullpen has been solid, if unspectacular, and catch a break with Minnesota’s offense hurting at the moment.
At the end of the day, I’m seeing some significant value in the home favorites here and I’ll roll with them to open up today’s twin-bill with a victory on the moneyline.