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Tigers’ Crummy Start Bad For Team, But Not Necessarily For Bettors

While Detroit is off to a miserable start, there are wagering trends worth monitoring




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Eduardo Rodriguez’s Sunday afternoon perfectly encapsulates this blighted stretch of the Tigers’ history.

The Detroit left-hander retired the first 20 batters he faced against the Baltimore Orioles, putting him seven outs shy of the first perfect game in franchise history. But like just about everything else around this team the past few years, it didn’t work out for the Tabbies. Despite pitching what he later described as the best game of a very solid career, Rodriguez walked away with a no-decision in the team’s 2-1, 10-inning loss.

What does Sunday tell us about the Tigers that we didn’t already know? Not a ton, since it was obvious they faced serious challenges scoring runs before this particular contest. In fact, the Tigers are last in Major League Baseball in batting average (.209) and RBIs (59), while only two teams, the Cleveland Guardians and Washington Nationals, have hit fewer home runs than Detroit’s 15 dingers.

That means those other punchless clubs are the only thing standing between the Tigers and some kind of reverse team Triple Crown. Maybe we should call it the Triple Cryin’ in this case?

The good vibes of last week’s five-game win streak have dissipated quickly, as the Tigers followed it with a four-game losing streak. Their 7-13 record is identical to their 20-game start in 2022, when the team wound up losing 96 contests.


For bettors who look for a slight edge on underdogs, however, the Tigers have actually proven a decent proposal this season. They are 11-9 against the spread (ATS), meaning when the -1.5 run line is applied to the favorite, the Tigers have fared reasonably well.

Perhaps their ability to avoid losing by more than one run is something to build on? From a bettor’s perspective, sure. If you had bet $100 on the Tigers’ run line in every game this season, you would be up $145 right now.

While scoring is up in MLB and overs have been cashing at a higher rate than unders, in part due to the new rules, the Tigers haven’t gotten the message. They are averaging just three runs per game, easily the lowest total in MLB.

The implication is obvious: Look to bet unders when the Tigers are playing. It certainly has worked out well lately, as the under has hit in nine of the team’s past 12 games.

There’s a danger here, of course, since past trends aren’t necessarily indicative of future results. But with a decent pitching staff, led by a bullpen that has actually underperformed, this team is perfectly capable of keeping games close.

Also, the Tigers have pitched exceptionally well away from Comerica Park, which is a bit odd since their home stadium is one of the more neutral run-scoring environments in the game. Detroit’s 1.73 road ERA is the second-best in the league, where the average is 4.07. It’s worth considering betting the under every time the Tigers are on the road, which they are over the next three days in Milwaukee, playing a team with a very strong pitching staff.

Monday’s over/under is set at 8.5 (at DraftKings), and the under is certainly worth a look with both pitchers, Matthew Boyd and Colin Rea, in reasonably good form in their first few starts of the season.

What about futures?

The Tigers’ win total was set at 69.5 games to start the season at most Michigan sportsbooks, and they’re well behind that pace. Their .350 winning percentage thus far would put them on course to win fewer than 57 games.

But don’t despair if you have a preseason ticket banking on the over. Teams in the Tigers’ position often make drastic changes by midseason, and a move such as releasing veteran Javier Baéz, who already has been benched at times, can quickly change a team’s clubhouse chemistry.

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images