Aaron Civale makes his Rays debut on Saturday, facing a familiar AL Central lineup. The Tigers are effectively trying to play spoiler at this point in the season, and they’ll try to damage the Rays’ AL East hopes with Tarik Skubal on the mound. Tampa is a road favorite at -145 on the moneyline.
Let’s make predictions for Friday’s game and take a look at why bettors should expect the Rays to win Civale’s debut.
Rays vs. Tigers Prediction
Aaron Civale may not be what his raw numbers indicate, but he overmatched AL Central offenses while with the Guardians this season. After being shut out on Friday night, the Tigers’ offense doesn’t seem ready to break through.
Civale limits hits well and should be able to keep a Detroit lineup with the league’s 28th-best AVG in check. The Tigers don’t walk much, so Civale should be able to give the Rays his signature length and avoid Detroit facing too much of an overworked bullpen.
Tampa is averaging 5.6 runs per game over its last five contests and has seen a power surge from Wander Franco of late. While the Rays may not be built to outlast the Orioles and win the AL East, a Tampa team with a functioning offense should easily take care of business against the Tigers. Tarik Skubal has looked dominant at times and disastrous at others since his return, and that volatility is too much of a risk to bet on the Tigers in this one.
Rays vs. Tigers Prediction: Rays Moneyline (-145)
Rays vs. Tigers Odds
The Rays are road favorites at -145 on the moneyline. The over/under is 8.5 runs.
Civale has been excellent of late, but a new environment and a FIP that indicates he’s due for some regression might scare bettors away. Still, he’s made a living carving up AL Central offenses this season. Will the Tigers really be the one to knock him off his track?
Rays vs. Tigers Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Rays vs. Tigers.
Tigers Lineup vs. Aaron Civale’s Pitch Count
Civale has given the Guardians plenty of length this season, even after spending time on the IL. He’s lasted at least six innings in six of his last eight starts, including eight strong innings against the Royals last week.
By pitching to contact and keeping strikeouts lower than most pitchers with his numbers, Civale is able to keep his pitch count minimal. The Rays are going to need that. Their typically strong bullpen has looked a bit burnt out over the past month, carrying a 4.44 ERA since the start of July. Tampa was able to limit its bullpen usage Friday, so some pieces should be well-rested, but the Tigers will want to get to the Rays’ bullpen as early as possible.
Can they do it? The Tigers don’t walk much, which isn’t helpful. They also hit .241 at home – decisively better than on the road, but still below-average. Against a pitcher who allows fewer than seven hits per 9 IP, Detroit’s outlook isn’t great.
Wander Franco vs. Tarik Skubal
Wander Franco has started to find his power stroke of late, and a matchup with the left-handed Skubal could allow him to keep building momentum. Franco has three home runs in his last six games after struggling to generate consistent power in the first half of the season.
While he had a quiet night to start the series in Detroit, Franco’s success against left-handers will be something to watch entering Saturday. He’s hitting .303 with a .379 OBP against lefties this season, and his OPS is 120 points higher against lefties than right-handers.
While the power hasn’t been there against left-handers, Franco’s switch-hitting ability has allowed him to bat right-handed and make consistent contact. For Skubal, who has been completely hit-or-miss since coming off the IL, Franco is the hitter to be most careful with.
Rays vs. Tigers Starting Lineups
Rays Starting Lineup
1B Yandy Diaz R
SS Wander Franco S
2B Brandon Lowe L
LF Randy Arozarena R
DH Luke Raley L
3B Isaac Paredes R
RF Josh Lowe L
CF Jose Siri R
C Christian Bethancourt R
Tigers Starting Lineup
3B Zach McKinstry L
CF Riley Greene L
1B Spencer Torkelson R
DH Kerry Carpenter L
RF Matt Vierling R
SS Javier Baez R
2B Nick Maton L
LF Akil Baddoo L
C Jake Rogers R