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Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Guardians May 20 Betting Preview
It’s been a season of peaks and valleys for the Cleveland Guardians. After crawling back over .500 on May 9, Cleveland has lost five of its last six games. The latest showcase of its woes was losing both home games against the in-state rival Cincinnati Reds.
The Guardians will now open up a new three-game series against the Detroit Tigers. It’s the first of 19 meetings these AL Central rivals will have between now and the end of the regular season.
Here is a brief overview of the first of three games headed to Progressive Field this weekend.
This is the closest thing we have to a pick ‘em on Friday’s MLB calendar. The Tigers, who recently swept the Baltimore Orioles, are actually -112 favorites. Meanwhile, the Guardians are -105 to win at home.
Oddsmakers also expect some offense on a warm night in Cleveland. The Over/Under is set at 8.5, with the Over coming in at -120.
Part of the reason Cleveland might be slight underdogs is because of who’s on the mound. Aaron Civale has easily been the club’s most disappointing pitcher in 2022, entering Friday with a 9.85 ERA and 1.74 WHIP. The 26-year-old does have fond memories of Detroit, however, going 3-0 with only five earned runs in 22.2 innings against the division foes in 2021.
On the other side, the Tigers will turn to lefty Tarik Skubal. The 25-year-old had serious growing pains in his first two MLB seasons but is now delivering on the lofty expectations he held as a prospect. Through seven starts, Skubal carries a 2.50 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 45 strikeouts in 39.2 innings. He also hasn’t allowed a run in his last 14 innings.
By the Numbers
Thanks to the emergence of guys like Steven Kwan and Owen Miller, the Guardians have a solid .245 batting average and just under 4.7 runs per game, the seventh most in MLB. One big reason for their success is a lack of strikeouts, coming into the weekend with fewer Ks (260) than every team in baseball.
Detroit, meanwhile, hasn’t been nearly as strong at the plate. Despite signing former All-Star Javier Baez and calling up top prospect Spencer Torkelson, the Tigers are hitting .222 with a .603 OPS, the latter of which is next-to-last in MLB. They also have a league-low 20 homers and 105 runs despite playing more games than ten other teams.
Guardians Need a Comeback Effort All-Around
On the surface, the Guardians should enter this matchup as decisive favorites. Yet they’re slight home underdogs due to a slumping offense and a lackluster starter on the bump.
Yes, Cleveland has hit better than expected. But its once-feared lineup has cooled off considerably in recent outings, racking up three or fewer runs in four of its last six games. There’s a good chance star third baseman Jose Ramirez sits out the series opener after fouling a ball off of his shin on Thursday, so everyone else needs to step up in his untimely absence.
The bats will especially need to come to life with Civale on the bump. The veteran righty has completely fallen off this season, giving up 27 earned runs and 35 hits in only 24.2 innings. Unless he turns things around on Friday, Cleveland will need some runs to not fall behind early.
While it may seem bleak for the Guardians, it’s not as if the Tigers are scorching the baseball world. Detroit has been blown out in back-to-back games and hasn’t scored more than five runs in a game since May 10. If there’s a chance for Civale to break through his slump, it’s tonight.
With manager Terry Francona out and Jose Ramirez likely out as well, the Guardians could use some positive momentum to start the weekend. With only 4.5 games separating them and the first-place Minnesota Twins, a win on Friday will go a long way.