The Detroit Tigers‘ 2021 season and Opening Day are nearly upon us! The Tigers officially begin their MLB season Thursday afternoon when they play host to the Cleveland Indians at 1:10 p.m. ET.
What can Tigers fans, and more importantly, Michigan sports bettors, expect from Detroit to open the season?
Detroit Tigers open as underdog
Detroit comes into Thursday’s home and series opener as a predictable underdog against Cleveland.
Oddsmakers are listing the Tigers in the +160 to +170 range to win on Thursday. Cleveland is in the -185 to -205 range.
The over/under for runs is set at 7.5 runs.
On the run line, the Tigers are listed at +1.5 runs against Cleveland.
If the run line is of interest, be sure to take advantage of the promo from PointsBet Sportsbook. PointsBet is offering up the Detroit Tigers’ Opening Day odds at +84 on the run line against Cleveland. Bettors can put up a max bet of $20 at a betting value of +100.
Pitching staff highlights spring training
The Tigers put forth a spring training that could lead to some optimism, though.
Detroit was 13-12 during the preseason with first-year manager A.J. Hinch. Although run production (119) wasn’t great compared with the rest of the league, their runs allowed (115) was tied for sixth fewest in MLB.
On the mound, the Tigers had a 4.23 team ERA this spring with a 1.34 team WHIP. Among the highlights were starters Matthew Boyd, Tarik Skubal and Jose Urena.
A second-year starter, Skubal had a 1.59 ERA over 17.0 innings of work with 18 strikeouts.
Boyd put up a 2.45 ERA and 19 Ks over 18.1 innings, while Urena had a 1.93 ERA over 14 innings of work.
All three are set to be part of the five-man rotation. They are joined by Julio Teheran and Casey Mize.
Mize, the former No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft, had some struggles this spring. While striking out 27 in 18.2 innings, he had a 7.23 ERA and 1.77 WHIP.
Fellow top draft pick Spencer Torkelson had significant issues at the plate. The first baseman hit just .037 in 27 at-bats, producing just one single while striking out 16 times.
Cleveland trending backward in AL Central
Detroit’s opening opponent is coming off a playoff appearance in 2020. The Cleveland Indians were 35-25 in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. The Tribe then lost a pair of playoff games to the New York Yankees.
In January, Cleveland made a lot of news by trading star shortstop Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets for prospects.
That trade pushed Cleveland back to the middle of the pack in the World Series hunt. Oddsmakers are listing Cleveland at +4000 to win it all.
The Tribe are listed around +750 to win the AL Central this season, far back of the two favorites, the Chicago White Sox (-125 to -110) and the Minnesota Twins (+110 to +150).
In spring training, Cleveland was just 10-18, among the worst in MLB. They put up an impressive 140 runs but gave up 154.
Tribe dominating matchup with Tigers
The Tigers and Indians have a three-game series starting Thursday, while resuming on Saturday and finishing up Sunday with the usual scattered pattern of early-season series.
Detroit will be hoping to buck a losing trend against Cleveland. The Indians have won 45 of their past 55 meetings with the Tigers heading into the opener.
Starting pitching matchups for the series (all games are at 1:10 p.m.):
- Thursday: Shane Bieber (CLE) vs. Matthew Boyd (DET)
- Saturday: Zach Plesac (CLE) vs. Julio Teheran (DET)
- Sunday: Aaron Civale (CLE) vs. Tarik Skubal (DET)
The Tigers could have the advantage on the mound, but Cleveland has more pop in its bats.
Jose Ramirez had 17 home runs in 2020 and could be eying a 100-RBI season in 2021.
Detroit’s hitting could continue to depend on the health and consistency of Miguel Cabrera. The veteran hit just .250 in 2020 with only 10 home runs and 35 RBI in 57 games. Cabby retains his starting spot at first base, and the same preseason buzz persists that he is in great shape.
For atmosphere, the Tigers will be allowed to have 8,200 fans at Comerica Park on Opening Day.
Unfortunately, the unseasonably warm weather will not be around Thursday. The high in Detroit calls for a high of 34 degrees, with winds of 10-20 mph.
With Detroit opening up with Cleveland and Minnesota at home before a 10-game road trip, the Tigers will need to grab some wins in this three-game series.