Tigers vs. Indians Odds
|Over/Under||8.5 (-107 / -113)|
|Time||7:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday night and via DraftKings.|
The divisional rivalries across Major League Baseball continue this weekend, and an unexpectedly exciting series between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians is one of the matchups on tap.
Detroit has been playing some inspired baseball to start the season, taking a three-game set against Cleveland before nearly taking two of three from the Twins. Though the Indians haven’t exactly had the beginning they’d hoped for, they can hang their hat on a series win against the pesky Royals, and come into this one feeling better about their bats. Will that be enough to change Cleveland’s luck, or does Detroit have something for the Tribe once again? Let’s dig into the matchup and see if we can find the answer.
The Detroit Tigers have some real momentum right now, seeing the ball well at the plate and winning three of their first six games. Well, Julio Teherán will do his best to slow that momentum, getting the ball for Detroit against the Cleveland Indians on Friday. Teherán’s been a liability every time he’s toed the rubber over the last couple of seasons, and though he picked up a win for Detroit in his first start of the season, he did not necessarily pitch well.
The right-hander allowed just one run on four hits over five innings in his first start of the season, which came against these same Indians, but the Trackman data told a different story. Teherán allowed three barrels in that game (which was 21.4% of all his batted balls) and had an expected ERA of 13.75 to go along with a .864 xSLG. That’s, um, bad. That points to the fact that Teherán was undeniably the beneficiary of luck, and shouldn’t be trusted to have another good outing here. Backing up that assertion is the fact that he had an 8.70 xERA last season and generally just has never really found any level of consistency over his career.
The Tigers lineup, however, has been a bright spot. Detroit quietly added some very capable bats to their lineup, particularly from the left side with Robbie Grossman and Nomar Mazara. They also have seen guys like Willi Castro and Jeimer Candelario grow into better hitters. The most exciting name that A.J. Hinch has penciled in, though, has been left fielder Akil Baddoo, who has torn the cover off the ball in his first 11 plate appearances at the big-league level. Baddoo already has a walk-off hit and a grand slam on his resume, and again, his career is four games old. The lefty has demonstrated an above-average ability to see the ball and make contact, something that makes this lineup exciting whenever he’s in it.
It appears we’re no closer to answering the puzzling question of, “Are the Indians good?” than we were before the season began. So far, the Indians have scored just 3.4 runs per game and have collectively hit .215, losing three of their first five games.
On paper, they should be good, right? Cleveland still has José Ramirez, after all, and went out and added Eddie Rosario in the cleanup spot over the offseason. They did, however, trade away Francisco Lindor, and while the Mets hyped up Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez, it’s yet to be determined if these guys can actually hit, particularly in the case of the latter. In fact, Ben Gamel is leading off for this team and playing center field; Rosario, the former top prospect in baseball, doesn’t even have a spot right now.
So, this lineup is kind of confusing; there’s some good, and some bad. On the whole, though, there’s reason to believe this can turn around. For starters, no team has made contact more than the Indians this year, who lead the league at 81.2%. In addition to that, though the sample is still small, Cleveland sits eighth in hard-hit rate at 43.7% and fourth in barrels per plate appearance (7.3).
Cleveland hasn’t had an issue making contact — and making good contact, at that — but it hasn’t yet resulted in runs. The greatest example of this is the game the Indians lost to this same starter, Julio Teherán, when they barreled three balls and still managed to score just one run.
It appears we have a great combination of “team that’s gotten unlucky” and “pitcher that’s gotten incredibly lucky” when you look at the quality of contact for each. What makes this even more fun is the fact that these two sides have already faced off.
I think this one will go differently for Julio Teherán. He should get what’s coming to him, and the Indians should finally be rewarded for squaring up all those balls. We didn’t even talk about Zach Plesac on the hill for Cleveland, but that was deliberate — I am fixated on this battle between Teherán and the Indians lineup. I’m going to back the Tribe’s bats to break out and won’t take the risk of fading these magical Detroit bats.
Pick: Indians Team Total over 4.5 (-117)