Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#979 Pittsburgh Pirates 8.5 vs.
#980 Detroit Tigers -105
Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 6:40pm EDT
Written by Nick Raffoul

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The Pittsburgh Pirates will travel to Comerica Park on Tuesday evening as they prepare for the opening game of their interleague series against the Detroit Tigers.

Pittsburgh and Detroit have been two of baseball’s most surprising teams in the early going. The Pirates have surprised some people with a strong 8-6 start, tying them for second place in the NL Central Division standings through the first two-plus weeks of the regular season. Meanwhile, the Tigers also enter this series tied for second place in the AL Central with an 8-7 mark through their first 15 games. Can Detroit bounce back at home versus the Pirates after getting swept over the weekend?

Musgrove enters third start with 0.00 ERA

Pittsburgh will hand the ball to right-hander Joe Musgrove for Game 1 at Comerica Park on Monday. Musgrove has been brilliant through his first two starts of the season, allowing zero earned runs in 13 combined innings of work. He comes in with a 1-1 overall record to go along with a 0.00 ERA, a 0.65 WHIP and 15 strikeouts. The 26-year-old is coming off of a loss after allowing two unearned runs on four hits in 6 ⅓ innings on the road versus the Chicago Cubs. Opposing hitters are batting a paltry .137 off of Musgrove so far this season.

The Pirates’ right-hander last faced the Tigers in the 2017 season when he was a member of the Houston Astros. He surrendered one earned run on two hits in one inning out of the bullpen, but this will be the first start of his career against Detroit.

According to Baseball Savant, the current Tigers’ roster has only two career plate appearances versus the Pirates’ right-hander, which could play to Musgrove’s advantage the first time through the order.

Boyd seeks to reverse career struggles versus Pittsburgh

Detroit is scheduled to counter with left-hander Matt Boyd, who has turned into the team’s ace after coming over from Toronto in the David Price-trade during the 2015 season. Boyd logged a season-high 170 ⅓ innings last season and seems to have taken another step forward in his development in 2019. The Tigers’ lefty has struck out 29 batters in his first 17 ⅓ frames after posting a career-best 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings last season. Boyd has logged back-to-back quality starts to come in with a 1-1 overall record to go along with a 2.60 ERA so far this year and he’s fresh off of his first win of the season after spinning six innings of one-run ball versus the Cleveland Indians.

Boyd had a forgettable start against the Pirates last season. He got knocked around in a loss, allowing four earned runs on seven hits in 3 ⅔ innings of work and he is 0-2 with a lifetime 10.57 ERA in two career starts versus the Bucs.

According to Baseball Savant, the current Pirates’ lineup is batting .286 with a weighted on-base percentage of .329 in 34 plate appearances off of Boyd. However, StatCast data predicts a slim .209 expected batting average and an expected slugging percentage of only .309 for the Pirates heading into Tuesday’s matchup.

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The Pirates have dominated this series as of late, winning six of the last seven meetings, including four straight on the road at Comerica Park. Boyd looks like he has really turned the corner this year, as his strikeout numbers are way up and he’s fresh off of back-to-back quality starts. Take the Tigers at home at this price with Boyd on the mound on Tuesday.

Prediction: Detroit Tigers

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These two teams have gone over the projected total in nine of their last 10 meetings in Detroit and 14 of their last 17 meetings overall. The Tigers have gone over in 24 of their last 35 AL Central contests, while the over is 11-5-1 in Pittsburgh’s last 17 games following an off-day and 4-1 in Musgrove’s last five starts during Game 1 of a series. Take this interleague series showdown to go over the projected total on Tuesday evening.

Prediction: Over

Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. He uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits.