Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#2921 Detroit Tigers vs.
#2922 Tampa Bay Rays
Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 4:10pm EDT
Written by Jordy

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The Tampa Bay Rays could guarantee a series win with a third-straight victory over the Detroit Tigers in their ensuing four-game meeting on Saturday. A walk-off, three-run homer brought Friday’s tilt to an end for a Rays team that’s now 3-2 in their regular season series meetings with the Tigers. We’ll see if Detroit shows some fight with Tarik Skubal slated to start at pitcher opposite of Tampa Bay’s Ryan Yarbrough.

Hitting drought does the Tigers in

The Tigers jumped out to a 4-1 lead on Friday night and looked to be well on their way towards defeating the Rays at Tropicana Field.

But they stopped scoring after the third inning.

That’s a no-no when facing the league’s second-best run-scoring offense. The Rays are always an inning away from turning a game upside down. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the scoring onslaught came in the ninth inning to tie things up and then the 10th for the walk-off win.

The pitching has to be better closing down the stretch, but that’s obviously easier said than done with a bullpen working with a 4.60 ERA. One thing is certain: Tarik Skubal can’t afford an early meltdown because there will be no saving him against this powerhouse Rays offensive lineup.

Detroit’s lefty is throwing a 4.21 ERA with a 1.27 WHIP and 8-12 record. He went head-to-head with the Rays last Sunday and held them scoreless in only three innings of work. We’ll see how he does with a little more time on the mound on Saturday.

The Tigers need to try to get off to another fast offensive start to take some of the pressure off Skubal. You don’t want to play with your pitcher’s confidence against a group like this Tampa Bay team.

Rays looking like themselves at home

After a rough road trip, the Rays are once again looking like the contender from every team’s nightmare. A 409-foot home run off the bat of Brett Phillips brought an end to an overtime clash with the Tigers on Friday. It was a game where the Rays looked dead in the water all the way until the ninth inning—until their bats came alive.

That’s what needs to continue to happen if they hope to find success against Detroit in this matchup. The team is averaging the fifth-most home runs per game with a .186 ISO. Detroit isn’t built to keep up with that kind of firepower, especially when they’re bleeding runs on defense.

Speaking of defense, the Tigers will have to deal with going toe-to-toe with left-handed pitcher Ryan Yarbrough on Saturday. The Parkland native has been torched in back-to-back outings, including a recent loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in a game where he gave up 10 hits and seven runs in only 2.1 innings of work. It was his second consecutive two-inning meltdown following an ugly outing against the Boston Red Sox as well.

Will he finally turn things around against a Tigers team clearly struggling at the plate on the road? Let’s see if he can get past two innings first.

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There’s no one happier to be back at Tropicana Field than Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough. Both of his recent meltdowns came on the road against vastly superior offenses than the one he’ll see at the plate on Saturday. The Tigers are ranked in the bottom-half of the league in isolated power and average home runs per game.

So this isn’t going to be a situation where Yarbrough’s pitches are constantly being sent into orbit. I’m not expecting him to throw a gem, but he’ll get back on track against Detroit’s lackluster offense and find some of his confidence again.

They should title this game “How Ryan got his groove back.”

Opposing teams are averaging 5.17 runs per game against the Tigers this season. Their pitching rotation is stumbling on a daily basis, and they’ll be taking on a team highly capable of burying them on the scoreboard at any point. Just look at what happened in the last two innings of Friday’s game.

I’m rolling with the Rays on Saturday.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays (-198)

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Ryan Yarbrough is pitching better at home this season, but it still hasn’t been great by any stretch. He’s throwing a 5.05 ERA at Tropicana Field with a 4-3 record. The Tigers will get enough hits to make it interesting earlier. But they’ll lose their grip on the situation as the Rays offense starts tearing into Tarik Skubal and the rest of Detroit’s pitchers. The Rays have scored five-plus runs in four of their previous five meetings with the Tigers this season. So they’re clearly feasting at the plate against a Tigers team that’s overwhelmed—no ifs, whats or buts about it. Give me the over.

Prediction: Over (8.5)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.