The Tigers and Guardians kick off a 4-game weekend series Thursday night in Cleveland. The Tigers lead the season series between these AL Central rivals 4-2. Lefty Tarik Skubal takes the mound for Detroit against Cleveland reliever-turned-starter Xzavion Curry.
The Tigers are the betting favorites at -135 on the moneyline 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.
Tigers vs. Guardians Prediction
Starting pitchers: LHP Tarik Skubal (2-2, 4.18 ERA) vs. RHP Xzavion Curry (3-1, 3.39 ERA)
In 7 starts since making his season debut on July 4, Tarik Skubal has staggering home/road splits. He has yet to allow a run at home over 4 starts (18-1/3 innings) and has allowed nary a baserunner with a 0.71 WHIP. He also has an 8.67 K/BB ratio at home.
On the road, however, he has allowed 16 runs (15 earned) in his 3 starts (14 innings) and has a 9.64 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. He also has just a 3.33 K/BB ratio.
That may be a small sample size, but his career numbers also back that up, albeit not quite as dramatically. He has a 3.10 career ERA and 1.11 WHIP at home versus a 5.37 ERA and 1.32 WHIP on the road.
Will that trend hold true today against Cleveland? That is one of the key questions when picking this game.
Cleveland has been one of the worst teams in the league against left-handed pitching this season. They have the 2nd worst average (.231) and they’re dead last in OPS (.650) and wOBA (.284). They’re not showing any signs of improvement, either. Since the All-Star Break they are hitting .217 (28th) with a .578 OPS (last) and .252 wOBA (last).
Something’s got to give, and oddsmakers clearly think it will be Skubal’s road struggles as they’ve made the Tigers road favorites.
Skubal should have the edge over Cleveland starter Xzavion Curry, who only recently re-joined the rotation after spending most of the season as a reliever. While he has impressive numbers overall this season, he has just a 4.26 ERA in his five starts and is coming off his worst outing of the year. In his last start on August 11 against Tampa, he allowed 5 runs on 6 hits in 5+ innings of work.
Detroit has been hitting well since the calendar turned to August. They are in the top half of the league in average (.262), OPS (.757), wOBA (.324) and wRC+ (107). They have been even better against righties, averaging .281 (5th) with an .802 OPS (8th), .343 wOBA (8th), and 120 wRC+ (8th).
Cleveland has been in the bottom 6 in all those categories over the same timespan, and dead last in all of them against lefties.
So yeah, it’s hard to trust this Cleveland lineup against a southpaw right now, but it’s not crazy to think Skubal will finally have a good start on the road. For that reason, we’re backing the favorite and taking the Tigers at -135 on the moneyline.
With two of the worst offenses in the league overall this season, and two bullpens that have been very good recently, we’re also taking the under on 8.5 runs at -105 odds.
Tigers vs. Guardians Prediction: Tigers moneyline (-135), under 8.5 runs (-105 at FanDuel)
Tigers vs. Guardians Odds
The Tigers are the betting favorites at -135 on the moneyline, while the Guardians’ moneyline odds are at +114.
The Tigers are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at +120 odds, while the Guardians are getting +1.5 runs at -142 odds.
The over/under in this game is set at 8.5 runs with -110 odds on the over and -110 odds on the under.
Tigers vs. Guardians Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Tigers vs. Guardians.
Xzavion Curry vs. Tigers’ lefties
The Tigers should have the edge with Tarik Skubal on the mound, which is one of the main reasons we picked the Tigers moneyline in our Tigers vs. Guardians prediction. But Xzavion Curry has been very good out of the bullpen this season, and if he can translate that to success as a starter, this matchup will be much closer than expected.
To do that he’ll need to take care of the lefties in the Tigers lineup, especially Riley Greene and Kerry Carpenter. Greene and Carpenter have been the Tigers’ two best hitters all season. They lead the Tigers in average, OPS and wOBA on the year, and they’ve both been crushing the ball in the month of August. Carpenter in particular is hitting .400 with a 1.215 OPS so far this month.
Curry may be able to handle the righties in the Tigers’ lineup, but if he struggles against these two talented lefties, then the Tigers’ moneyline pick will be looking very good.
Cleveland has had one of the best bullpens in the league for most of the season. They are 5th in bullpen ERA (3.57) and 9th in FIP (3.95). Detroit has been about average, ranking 18th in ERA (4.10) and 12th in FIP (4.09).
Both bullpens have been even better so far in August, with Cleveland rocking a 3.16 ERA and the Tigers at 3.42.
If either starter gets into trouble early, these clubs have the arms to get through the rest of the game. This is part of the reason we like the under tonight.
Tigers vs. Guardians Starting Lineups (Projected)
Tigers Starting Lineup
LF Akil Baddoo (L)
CF Riley Greene (L)
3B Matthew Vierling (R)
1B Spencer Torkelson (R)
RF Kerry Carpenter (L)
SS Zach McKinstry (L)
DH Miguel Cabrera (R)
2B Andy Ibanez (R)
C Jake Rogers (R)
Guardians Starting Lineup
LF Steven Kwan (L)
2B Andres Gimenez (L)
3B Jose Ramirez (S)
DH Oscar Gonzalez (R)
RF Ramon Laureano (R)
1B Gabriel Arias (R)
SS Brayan Rocchio (S)
CF Myles Straw (R)
C Cam Gallagher (R)