The Houston Astros will host the Detroit Tigers in the finale of their three-game series on Thursday. The Tigers have been sizable underdogs in each game. Detroit won the series opener 6-2 on Tuesday. Casey Mize picked up the victory for Detroit, and Zack Greinke lost the game for Houston.
This preview was completed before these two teams played on Tuesday night.
Hinch looks for another win over former clubAfter going 23-35 last season and finishing last in the AL Central, the Tigers hired former Astros manager, A.J Hinch, in the offense. In 2021, the Tigers headed into Tuesday night with a 4-6 record. The Tigers are 25th in MLB, averaging 3.5 runs and 27th allowing 5.6 runs per the first six contest. The Tigers are batting .211, which is 25th in the league but is fifth, hammering 1.4 homers per game. Rookie outfielder Akil Baddoo, a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Minnesota Twins, has been exciting early on. Baddoo has only 19 at-bats so far but has a team-best .368 batting average and nine RBI to go along with three home runs, second on the club. Catcher Wilson Ramos leads the team with four homers.
Detroit is scheduled to send Michael Fulmer to the mound. Fulmer is a starter, but he does not pitch too deep into games anymore. In 2020, Fulmer made 10 starts, with the longest start only going three innings. He was 0-2 with an 8.78 ERA. This year, Fulmer has made three starts, no decisions, and a 2.57 ERA in seven innings. Fulmer does have an impressive 10 strikeouts, and no walks so far. Against the Astros all-time, Fulmer is 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA in two starts.
Astros a heavy favorite over former managerThe Houston Astros went 29-31 during the regular season but advanced all the way to Game 7 of the American League Championship before losing to the Tampa Bay Rays. After losing George Springer in the Astros are still expected to be among the American League's best teams. The Astros have +7500 opponents currently to win the AL pennant, behind New York, Chicago, and Minnesota.
"This place is very special to me. I really do appreciate it. It touched me," Hinch said of the video tribute and standing ovation from the Astros. https://t.co/NV1RcG0kKd— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) April 13, 2021
The Astros are currently on a three-game losing streak after falling to Detroit on Monday. The Astros are 6-4 on the season and second in the AL West. Houston is third in MLB, averaging 5.8 runs per game, fifth in batting average at .274, and first with 1.8 home runs per game. Yuli Gurriel leads the team with a .400 batting average, and Kyle Tucker has a team-best four home runs and 11 RBI. Shortstop Carlos Correa has also started the season well, batting .325, three home runs, and six RBI.
The pitching for the Astros is 14th in MLB, with a 3.74 team ERA. Lance McCullers Jr. will make his third start of the season on Wednesday. On the year, McCullers is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA. He faced the A's in both starts this season and allowed one earned run in five innings. In 2020, McCullers went 3-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 11 starts.
- Tigers are 1-3 against the run line in their last 4 games
- Tigers are 3-14 in Fulmer's last 17 road starts vs. a team with a winning record.
- Astros are 7-3 in the last 10 games against the run line
- Astros are 5-1 in McCullers Jr.s last 6 starts vs. American League Central.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Micahel Fulmer has pitched well for the Tigers in his first three outings, but he has not thrown more than 68 pitches in a start since 2018. The Astros will likely face the Tigers bullpen for four innings in this game, which gives Houston a substantial advantage. The Tigers relief pitchers have a 7.03 ERA, by far the worst in baseball this season. McCullers Jr. is going for the Astros at home, where he has been very tough in his career. In 45 career starts at Minute Maid Park, McCullers is 20-7 with a 2.50 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. Houston also has the better offense here and a solid bullpen that ranks 12th with a 3.92 ERA. Take the Astros on the run line to avoid the heavy juice.
Full-Game Total Pick
Going back to last season, McCullers Jr. has allowed one earned run or less in six of his last seven regular-season starts. The Tigers' offense has been held to three runs or less in four of their last five games and will likely struggle to plate more than two runs in this game. I expect the Astros to win this game without the need for late-inning heroics. But there's too much one-sided scoring that this game will need from Houston in eight innings for this game to go over. I don't expect the Astros to score more than six runs, so I love the under in this contest.