The Cubs and Tigers close out their interleague series Wednesday afternoon in Detroit’s Comerica Park. Veteran Jameson Taillon takes the mound for Chicago against Tigers lefty Tarik Skubal.
The Tigers are small home favorites with -115 moneyline odds, while the over/under in this game is set at 8.5 runs. The prediction here is that the Tigers win and the under hits.
Cubs vs. Tigers Prediction
Starting pitchers: RHP Jameson Taillon (7-8, 5.56 ERA) vs. LHP Tarik Skubal (3-2, 3.76 ERA)
After a couple of starts on the road, Tarik Skubal will be very glad to return home to Detroit. In 8 starts this season, Skubal has been dominant at home but has struggled on the road.
He has not allowed a single earned run at home over 4 starts (18-1/3 innings) and has barely allowed any baserunners (0.71 WHIP). He has issued just 2 walks, leading to an impressive 8.67 K/BB ratio at home.
In 4 starts on the road (20 innings), however, he has allowed 17 runs (16 earned) and has a 7.20 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. His 4.25 K/BB ratio is also indicative that he has not had the same swing-and-miss stuff on the road.
We can’t exactly count on Skubal maintaining his scoreless streak against a Cubs team that has been one of the best offenses in baseball since the All-Star break. But he doesn’t have to be perfect to give the Tigers a very good chance to win this game.
Skubal has another favorable split that portends a good outing today. He has a 1.89 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 4 day games this season (19 innings) compared to a 5.59 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 4 night games (19-1/3 innings). While those splits are admittedly a small sample size, they also hold true (although not quite as dramatically) in his career numbers.
The Cubs will undoubtedly be a tough test for Skubal. Only the Braves have been more explosive offensively in the second half of the season, as the Cubs are 2nd in runs, OPS, and wOBA over that span and 4th in wRC+.
They have not been nearly as dominant against lefties, however. They are hitting just .238 with a .710 OPS and .305 wOBA against southpaws compared to a .290 average, .878 OPS and .376 wOBA against righties (all of which lead the league in the second half).
While the Cubs are on the wrong side of their recent hitting splits, the Tigers are on their good side against righty Jameson Taillon. In the month of August, Detroit is hitting .274 with a .799 OPS and .342 wOBA against righties (top 8 in each category), compared to an average of .153 with a .493 OPS and .217 wOBA against lefties (bottom 2 in each category).
With the exception of one terrible outing two weeks ago in Toronto (8 earned in 3 innings), Taillon has been much better over his last 8 starts than he had been for most of the season. In those 7 good starts (43-1/3 innings) he has a 2.29 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.
Of course you can’t just ignore that Toronto start or the 6.93 ERA and 1.52 WHIP Taillon had on July 2. He has been bad for most of this season and is vulnerable to getting shelled in just about any matchup at this point in his career.
For that reason, we’re going to trust the splits and take the Tigers on the moneyline at -115. If Skubal pitches well as expected, then Taillon just needs to avoid another implosion and the under should be looking good too. Detroit may be better against righties, but they are still 2nd to last in the majors in runs scored this season.
Cubs vs. Tigers Prediction: Tigers moneyline (-115), under 8.5 runs (-112)
Note: all metrics above taken before Tuesday’s games
Cubs vs. Tigers Odds
The Tigers are small betting favorites at home with -115 moneyline odds, while the Cubs have -105 moneyline odds.
Despite being underdogs on the moneyline, the Cubs are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at +160 odds, while the Tigers are getting +1.5 at -192 odds. Keep an eye on those odds leading up to first pitch, as they could flip eventually.
The over/under in this game is set at 8.5 runs with -108 odds on the over and -112 odds on the under.
Cubs vs. Tigers Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Cubs vs. Tigers.
Tarik Skubal vs. Cody Bellinger
A big reason we picked the Tigers moneyline in our Cubs vs Tigers prediction is that Skubal has been great at home and the Cubs have not been nearly as dominant against lefties. We need both of those trends to continue today to hit on our picks.
A big part of that will be Cody Bellinger’s at-bats against Skubal. Bellinger is one of the only lefties in the Cubs’ lineup, and he has been one of the hottest hitters in the majors since the All-Star break. Over that span he’s hitting .361 (4th) with 11 home runs (5th), 36 RBI (t-1st) and a 1.056 OPS (10th).
Bellinger is actually better against lefties than against righties this season. He’s hitting .331 with a .970 OPS against lefties compared to .318 and .903 against righties. If Skubal can keep Bellinger from doing any damage, he will have a much easier time against the rest of the Cubs’ lineup.
Jameson Taillon vs. Kerry Carpenter
Carpenter has been almost as hot as Bellinger in the 2nd half, and has been even better since August 1. He is hitting .371 this month with a ridiculous 1.192 OPS (2nd in the league).
Carpenter is one of several lefty bats with whom Taillon will have to contend today, but he is easily the most dangerous. He has a .297 average and .920 OPS against righties this season.
Taillon could also face some trouble against Javy Baez, who is 12-for-21 with 2 home runs in his career against Taillon.
If Carpenter and Baez can do some damage against Taillon, then our Tigers moneyline pick will be looking that much better.
Cubs vs. Tigers Starting Lineups (Projected)
Cubs Starting Lineup
CF Mike Tauchman (L)
2B Nico Hoerner (R)
LF Ian Happ (S)
1B Cody Bellinger (L)
SS Dansby Swanson (R)
DH Christopher Morel (R)
3B Jeimer Candelario (S)
RF Seiya Suzuki (R)
C Yan Gomes (R)
Tigers Starting Lineup
LF Akil Baddoo (L)
RF Riley Greene (L)
1B Spencer Torkelson (R)
DH Kerry Carpenter (L)
3B Matthew Vierling (R)
CF Parker Meadows (L)
SS Javier Baez (R)
2B Zach McKinstry (L)
C Jake Rogers (R)