The Cubs have been a major success story since the all-star break, but they still find themselves in a fight for their lives with three wild card contenders closely trailing behind in the NL. The Tigers would like to play spoiler as their subpar season presses on. The Cubs are slight road favorites at -120 on the moneyline.
Let’s make predictions for Tuesday’s matchup and break down why Detroit might be ready to give the Cubs a real challenge.
Cubs vs. Tigers Prediction
The line shows the Cubs as slight favorites in this one, but that doesn’t seem to line up with reality. Chicago entered Monday an even .500 on the road, and the Tigers have been holding steady at a .500 rate since early June. With the pitching a huge question mark as Smyly takes the mound, the Tigers look like the better value here.
Detroit is finally starting to hit, with Spencer Torkelson on a hot streak and Kerry Carpenter quietly putting together an excellent summer. Both homered again on Monday night. All of a sudden, this is a team that can take advantage of Smyly’s propensity for home runs and do damage against the rest of the Cubs’ bullpen on what will be an active day for that unit.
The Tigers have their own pitching concerns as an untested Reese Olson takes the mound, but he’s held his own and Detroit is 5-6 in his starts this season – about in line with the team’s actual win percentage. Given the Tigers are playing at home and the Cubs’ uncertainty on the mound, this line should be closer to even than in Chicago’s favor. The Tigers are a smart moneyline pick.
Cubs vs. Tigers Prediction: Tigers Moneyline (+100)
Cubs vs. Tigers Odds
The Cubs are slight road favorites at -120 on the moneyline. The over/under is 9 runs.
The Cubs have been a pretty hot team for the last month, though a 6-5 mark over their last 11 games – all against sub-.500 teams – is a sign that they may be leveling out. Not having Marcus Stroman healthy hurts, and Tuesday is an example of when it could hurt the most. Can the Cubs really rely on Smyly and the bullpen to get through this one?
Cubs vs. Tigers Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Cubs vs. Tigers.
Cody Bellinger vs. Tigers Pitching
The key to quieting the Cubs’ offense continues to be limiting Cody Bellinger at the plate.
While the rest of the lineup has started to step up in August and give Bellinger some support, he continues to be the engine behind this lineup. Bellinger is hitting .371 with five home runs and a 1.083 OPS this month, including two home runs against the Royals on Saturday. He could be a huge threat to Tigers starter Reese Olson as well as Detroit’s bullpen.
Olson has been respectable in the majors this year, carrying a 3.99 FIP, but he had a WHIP of 1.75 in the minors as he gave up plenty of hits and dealt with control issues. Offense is up at the AAA level this season, but those are still ultra-concerning numbers for a pitcher who still has much to prove at the MLB level.
Comerica Park is pitcher-friendly, but 14 of Bellinger’s home runs have gone to right field and RF isn’t too deep in Detroit.
Tigers’ Power vs. Drew Smyly
There are serious questions surrounding the Cubs’ pitching plans on Tuesday, as Drew Smyly is coming off three consecutive relief appearances after he was removed from the rotation. That means he isn’t going to last long against the Tigers, regardless of how well he pitches. It would still massively benefit Chicago if he was able to give the team a handful of strong innings before the rest of the bullpen handles the middle and later innings.
Smyly has allowed a whopping 23 home runs this season, enough for a home run rate of 1.7 per nine innings. That figure is even worse than excluding Smyly’s recent relief appearances.
The Tigers aren’t a team that can traditionally take advantage of that, especially at pitcher-friendly Comerica Park, but Detroit has hit 29 homers in just 19 games this month. The Tigers are getting big-time power out of Spencer Torkelson and Kerry Carpenter, enough to make this pitching matchup a very dangerous one for the Cubs.
Cubs vs. Tigers Starting Lineups
Cubs Starting Lineup
CF Mike Tauchman L
2B Nico Hoerner R
LF Ian Happ S
1B Cody Bellinger L
SS Dansby Swanson R
2B Christopher Morel R
3B Jeimer Candelario S
DH Seiya Suzuki R
CF Yan Gomes R
Tigers Starting Lineup
LF Akil Baddoo L
CF Riley Greene L
1B Spencer Torkelson R
DH Kerry Carpenter L
3B Matt Vierling R
CF Parker Meadows L
SS Javier Baez R
2B Zach McKinstry L
C Jake Rogers R