MLB Betting Preview: CIN Reds @ DET Tigers (8/1/20)

In their second series of battles in 2020, the Reds and Tigers face off in Detroit. The visiting Reds will send the eccentric Trevor Bauer to the mound. Meanwhile, the Tigers look to counter with the rehabbing Michael Fulmer. 

Cincinnati Reds at Detroit Tigers

Comerica Park, Detroit, MI – 1:10 PM EST

Game Info/Starting Pitchers:

CIN: Trevor Bauer – R (Last Season: 4.48 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 3.3 WAR, 213 IP)
DET: Michael Fulmer – R (2018 Season: 4.69 ERA, 4.52 FIP, 1.4 WAR, 132.1 IP)

Odds & Betting lines (via DraftKings Sportsbook)

Total: 9 | Over: -121 | Under: +100
CIN | Moneyline: -175 | Run Line (-1.5): -109
DET | Moneyline: +148 | Run Line (+1.5): +105

Injury List

CIN: IF Matt Davidson, SP Anthony DeSclafani, SP Wade Miley, SP Matt Bowman, SP Robert Stephenson

DET: OF Cameron Maybin, SP Dario Agrazal, SP Daniel Norris, SP Jordan Zimmermann

Interesting Stats

An ’18 Mirage?

After a solid-but-unspectacular first 4 years in MLB, Trevor Bauer broke out in 2018. After a career without a season ERA below 4.18, Bauer nearly halved that mark by posting a 2.21 in ‘18. Better yet, the UCLA alum’s strikeout rate sat at an elite 30.8%. 

Last season, while impressive, represented a major step back. Bauer’s regression in the strikeout (3% loss), walk (1% gain), and HR/9 (more than tripled) categories sent his FIP and ERA back to 4.34 and 4.48. It will be interesting to see if Bauer, the mad scientist of MLB pitchers, can turn things around. Bauer did have a ridiculous 59% strikeout rate in his first start of the season vs Detroit. 

A Gradual Return

In his brief career, Michael Fulmer has established himself as a valuable member of any rotation. His 2016 performance of a 3.76 FIP, 3.06 ERA, and 3.1 WAR earned him the AL Rookie of the Year Award. In 2017, he followed it up with a 3.67 FIP, a 3.83 ERA, and 3.6 WAR. After a solid start last year, however, Fulmer went down with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. 

As he works his way back, it will be important to closely monitor his progress. After his first start, his velocity is a concerning 3 mph below his career average of 96.

Betting Picks

DET +1.5 (+105)

Until league offense picks back up, underdog +1.5 plays will continue to be +EV (expected value). As we harshly learned in week one, plays such as overs will remain unprofitable in this weird league environment. As long as teams can trot out 11 relievers while hitters are still ‘cold,’ games will remain closer. Now, that won’t stop favorites from pulling away (with better relievers) at the end of games, but it should keep the spread close.

CIN Under 5.5 (-122)

If we’re going to bet the underdogs to cover, it makes sense to expect the favorites to score less. As a league-average offense against below-average pitching, I expect the Reds to score about 4.8 runs–a decent mark. Taking a look at the 2019 Indians, a team with similar production, they scored less than 6 in 63% of their games. Now, the comparison can’t be perfect, but 63% would give us an 8% cushion on the -122 line (55% implied odds). 

Rich Torres
Rich Torres Sportswriter at US-Odds