Detroit Tigers Look To Move Above .500 Against Surging Athletics

Written By Drew Ellis on April 15, 2021

Don’t look now, but the Detroit Tigers are on a win streak.

After being swept in Cleveland last week to go on a 4-game losing streak, Detroit bounced back in Houston. The Tigers swept the Astros, winning three multi-run games to even their record at 6-6 on the season.

Will Detroit be able to continue the win streak when it opens a four-game weekend series with the Oakland Athletics at 9:40 p.m. Eastern?

Pitching no strong suit for either Tigers, A’s

This weekend series features two teams that are among the worst pitching staffs in MLB.

Detroit has a team ERA of 5.09, which ranks 27th in the league. Oakland comes into the series with the worst team ERA in baseball by a wide margin at 6.00.

Here’s a look at the probable starting pitching matchups for the Tigers (6-6) and Athletics (5-7):

  • 9:40 p.m. Thursday: Tarik Skubal (0-1, 7.71 ERA) vs. Sean Manaea (0-1, 5.06)
  • 9:40 p.m. Friday: Jose Urena (0-2, 8.22) vs. Frankie Montas (1-1, 8.31)
  • 4:07 p.m. Saturday: Casey Mize (1-0, 0.82) vs. Cole Irvin (0-2, 7.45)
  • 4:07 p.m. Sunday: Matthew Boyd (2-1, 1.86) vs. Chris Bassitt (1-2, 4.96)

The Tigers are turning to two struggling starters to open the series. Skubal was lit up for six runs in four innings in his last outing on Saturday against Cleveland.

Urena lasted just 7.2 innings over his two starts, giving up seven runs with nine walks in the process.

Oakland favored at home in opener

Despite the Detroit Tigers’ win streak, oddsmakers are backing the Athletics in Thursday’s series opener.

Oakland is listed around a -160 favorite against the Tigers, who are given odds in the +135 to +140 range. You can get the Tigers at +1.5 on the runline, but that comes with odds around -145 to -150.

The over/under for the game is currently listed at 8.5 runs.

In the race to win the AL Central, the Tigers aren’t making up any ground with the expected favorites hovering near .500 and the Kansas City Royals off to a 6-4 start. DraftKings Sportsbook lists Detroit at +6000 to win the division. BetMGM Sportsbook has the Tigers at +6600.

Oakland owns Detroit in the series history. The Athletics have won nine of their past 10 against the Tigers.

Detroit bats heat up in Houston

Detroit hasn’t been lighting up the scoreboard in the early part of 2021. However, the Tigers scored 20 runs over the three games with the Astros.

Rookie sensation Akil Baddoo continued his hot streak, putting up five hits over the three games. That effort included two home runs and four RBI. Baddoo is hitting .370 over 27 at bats with 11 RBI and four home runs.

Baddoo is leading the Tigers in average and RBI thus far. Jeimer Candelario is hitting .326, while Wilson Ramos has a league-high six home runs while hitting .278. Ramos is riding a six-game hit streak coming into the series.

Miguel Cabrera sits on the IL with a bicep injury. Not that it’s been much of a loss — Cabrera is hitting just .125 on the season through 24 at-bats. He has one home run and three RBI.

The Tigers’ starting pitching was solid in Houston as well. Detroit starters combined for 18.2 innings of work and allowed just three earned runs.

The bullpen remains a concern, however. Even in the three wins against Houston, Detroit relievers gave up five earned runs over 8.1 innings of work.

Oakland trying to dig out of early hole

Oakland came into the season with some big expectations, but dropped the first six games of the season. Since then, the Athletics have won five of six, including four straight over Arizona and Houston.

Oakland Coliseum hasn’t been kind to the A’s. Oakland is 1-6 at home thus far in 2021.

Like Detroit, Oakland has been relying on its bats in recent wins. The Athletics have put up 29 runs over their current four-game win streak.

Infielder Jed Lowrie has been on a tear. He has four straight games with two hits while driving in nine runs. Outfielder Mark Canha has a five-game hit streak. He’s reached base 12 times in the past five games.

The hitting has had to make up for the Oakland pitching, which, as we noted, ranks last in the league right now. All five Oakland starters have an ERA of 4.96 or higher.

This weekend series could come down to which bats stay hot. It appears the opportunities for runs will be there for both teams. Testing out the over on the runs total could be a savvy play until proven otherwise.

Photo by Michael Wyke/AP
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis has lived in Michigan his whole life, and has been writing professionally for the last 21 years. Ellis has covered anything from youth baseball in mid-Michigan, a top-25 college football program, and pro sports in the Detroit area. Always keeping busy, Ellis also has over 10 years of experience in covering sports betting, handling all major sports.

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