The Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks will begin a three-game interleague series on Friday night at Chase Field. Detroit is having a rough season at 26-43 after getting swept by the Boston Red Sox to start the week, capped by a 6-2 defeat on Wednesday as a +125 underdog. Arizona also suffered a sweep, losing Wednesday's finale against the San Diego Padres by a 10-4 score as a +150 underdog to fall to 32-39 on the season.
These teams last met back in 2017, when Arizona won three of four matchups including a two-game split at home.
Tigers offense still searching for answersAfter plating 21 combined runs across two games against the Texas Rangers last weekend, Detroit was hoping a horrendous offense finally found a spark, but it went right back to scuffling en route to a sweep in Boston. Javier Baez got Detroit off to a good start on Wednesday with a two-run homer, yet that would be all the scoring the Tigers would manage for the night, as they had only five hits overall.
Tarik Skubal had one of his worst outings of what's been an outstanding year, allowing six runs on six hits and three walks while striking out five. Baez was on base three times, while Jonathan Schoop had a double and a walk.
“I think his at-bats are very encouraging,” manager A.J. Hinch said about Baez turning in a strong series via MLB.com. “I mean, obviously, we've seen him do a little bit of everything so far in his time here with us. But when he is selective, and when he does go after pitches that he can handle, he does a lot of damage. And he's doing it to all fields. And so it's an encouraging sign to see him get warmed up.”
The Tigers are down a huge amount on the money line with the disappointing season while going 31-38 on the run line. Overs are just 24-42-3 for the Tigers, with only two of their last seven games going over the betting total.
This is the worst offense in baseball with the Tigers averaging a horrendous 2.87 runs per game on a .609 team OPS. Detroit pitching has been better but still below average at a 4.07 collective ERA including a mark of 3.14 from a bullpen that is sixth-best in baseball.
Miguel Cabrera has been Detroit's best everyday player, batting .299/.336/.374 with three homers and 23 RBI. Baez is hoping that the last series will spark him, as he's only posting a .626 OPS with six homers and 21 RBI after joining Detroit in free agency.
Rony Garcia will make his 14th appearance and sixth start of the season, having gone 1-2 with a 4.97 ERA and 41:9 K:BB ratio across 38 innings overall. The 24-year-old picked up a win over the Rangers last Saturday, allowing four runs on five hits while striking out five across six innings.
Outfielders Daz Cameron and Austin Meadows are both on the COVID list, while catcher Jake Rogers is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The rotation has been beaten up all season, with Matt Manning (shoulder inflammation), Casey Mize (Tommy John surgery), Michael Pineda (fractured finger) and Spencer Turnbull (Tommy John surgery).
Diamondbacks hope to recover after sweepWhile Arizona is generally much improved from last year, it has a long way to go before competing with the likes of the Padres and were outscored 17-7 in a three-game sweep to start the week. After San Diego plated six runs in the first two innings on Wednesday, Arizona got on the board in the third on Alek Thomas' homer with Christian Walker also going deep later, yet it wasn't enough to mount a serious rally.
Madison Bumgarner was charged with the loss, allowing six runs (four earned) on nine hits while striking out five in four innings of work. Thomas had a multi-hit game while scoring a pair of runs to highlight the offense.
"It's special for sure," Bumgarner said via MLB.com about recording his 2,000th career strikeout on Wednesday. "I'm not taking that for granted. I'm thankful for the opportunity to do that. This game has been around for a long time, and not many people have been able to do that. So I'm blessed for sure, and I'm thankful that we were able to do that."
Arizona is still slightly up on the money line overall as it has exceeded expectations while going a strong 40-31 on the run line. Overs are 29-38-4 for Arizona after Wednesday's high-scoring game snapped a run of three straight unders.
This offense has generally struggled, ranking near the bottom of the MLB leaderboard with 4.05 runs per game on a .671 OPS. Arizona pitching is also ranked in the bottom 10 with a 4.26 collective ERA including a mark of 4.29 from the bullpen.
Walker has some gaudy power numbers this season, posting a .794 OPS with 19 home runs and 37 RBI. Thomas is flashing some good signs as a rookie with a .789 OPS, six homers, four steals and 15 RBI across 41 innings.
Merrill Kelly is scheduled to make his 15th start of the season, hoping to continue a strong campaign as he's gone 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA across 78 innings. The 33-year-old earned an impressive win over the Minnesota Twins last Sunday, allowing one run on five hits over seven innings, and striking out five.
Shortstop Nick Ahmed underwent shoulder surgery earlier this month. Starting pitcher Humberto Castellanos has a strained elbow. Reliever J.B. Bukauskas is on the IL with a strained shoulder.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
While Arizona is far from a contender, this is a significantly improved team from last year that has been profitable for betters thus far. Detroit's lineup continues to have a nightmare season, and won't be able to muster much against a strong opposing starter in Kelly.
After showing some promise over the past couple years, Kelly has taken things to a different level in 2022 under new pitching coach Brent Strom, posting a strong 82 ERA- / 83 FIP- while doing a great job of limiting the long ball. He should keep rolling against a Detroit lineup that is posting a 75 wRC+ to rank among the worst marks in history, let alone just this season.
Garcia has good stuff but is getting tagged for an ugly 20% barrel rate and 58% hard-hit rate which will help Arizona scratch out enough offense. Back Kelly and the Diamondbacks at plus odds on the run line, as the Tigers offense will be hard-pressed to get much done on Friday.
Full-Game Total Pick
Garcia does at least have some good stuff to build on, posting a stellar 21.3 K-BB% and 1.05 WHIP in a swingman role this season. The good news for Detroit is he won't have to go through the order too many times, with the Tigers bullpen posting terrific stats across the board including ranking sixth in ERA.
Arizona is not a good offense either, posting just an 87 team wRC+ with no individual topping Thomas' mark of 119. Pitching has been the strength of both teams, and this will be a low-scoring matchup as a result.