Sports Reboots For Detroit Teams? Longshot Bets And Misery

It's great to have pro sports on the comeback trail, but in Detroit, the immediate horizon is pretty grim. Let's start with the Tigers.
Carolina Hurricanes at Detroit Red Wings
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Lions and Tigers and Pistons, oh my, these teams are terrible.

It’s a tough time for Detroit sports fans, with nary a playoff hopeful or title contender in the mix across the four major sports leagues.

Casinos around the state are working toward reopening (and staying open), and Detroit’s trio are expected to reopen in early July. That may be just in time for MLB’s return, and while baseball isn’t a huge draw for legal sportsbooks in Michigan, it’ll certainly be a welcome arrival as the sports world awakens from its COVID-19 shutdown.

The toothless Tigers

With the MLB and MLBPA finally gaining some traction in negotiations this week, it seems the possibility of a baseball season is, well, who knows at this point.

If there is a season, it’ll be a rebuilding one for the Tigers. Detroit finished 47-114 in 2019, the worst record in baseball by 6.5 games. The team has extremely long odds at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook for any kind of season-long success, and a bet on them to win the division, make the playoffs, really anything positive is probably misguided.

There is one 2020 wager that is interesting, and that’s Matthew Boyd at +5000 on DraftKings and +6000 on FanDuel to win the AL Cy Young.

Boyd was dominant through May of last season, with a 2.85 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 72.2 IP over 12 starts. Then the home runs happened. The young lefty just could not keep the ball in the yard from June on, resulting in a league-leading 39 home runs allowed and a rough 4.56 ERA for the full season.

Boyd still finished tied for 10th in the league in strikeouts, and his 11.6 K/9 was good for sixth overall. There’s no question he can miss bats at an elite level, it’s just those pesky home runs. The 2020 season will likely be in the 50-70 game range. That two-month sample from 2019? 55 games. Boyd is a decent bet at those long odds, especially in a Cy Young voting era that doesn’t value wins as much.

No playoffs for Pistons and Red Wings

The NBA will resume at the end of July with an 8-game season then the playoffs, and the NHL will come back at a yet-to-be-determined date with a 24-team tournament. Neither of those resumptions will include a team from Detroit.

The Pistons are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference at 20-46, 10.5 games behind eighth-place Orlando. The organization recently brought in former Oklahoma City executive Troy Weaver to take over as general manager, a positive sign toward rebuilding a roster lacking in young talent. Weaver played a role in bringing Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka to the Thunder.

A bet on the Pistons for 2021 would be counting on a healthy Blake Griffin, a lottery pick in the upcoming draft that can make an immediate impact, and the continued Eastern Conference mediocrity.

The Red Wings finished a distant last in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference, and their 39 points were 23 fewer than the next-closest team (Ottawa). The lone positive is the team has the best odds for the top overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Wagering on the Red Wings would mean believing youngsters Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha can continue excelling together and the team lands the top overall pick (probably Alexis Lafreniere) who makes an immediate impact (sound familiar?).

The lackluster Lions

The Lions went 3-12-1 in 2019, “earning” the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The team grabbed cornerback Jeff Okudah in the first round and took top-flight running back D’Andre Swift in the second round. Not too shabby, but the Lions still have the longest odds to win a competitive NFC North division.

Detroit added linebacker Jamie Collins, tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback Desmond Trufant as well, which should improve a defense that allowed 26.4 points a game last season (26th in league). The return of Matthew Stafford will help a middle-of-the-pack offense, though his health is far from guaranteed.

The Lions are +600 on DraftKings and +650 on FanDuel to win the division, along with +260 and +240 to make the playoffs, respectively. Choose your own adventure, but it’s hard to imagine this team competing in a division with Green Bay and Minnesota.

But after all, that’s why the point spread exists: to level the playing field.

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