Tigers Will Finish 3-Game Home Sweep of Twins in Early Start

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, April 13, 2017 2:13 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 13, 2017 2:13 PM UTC

The Detroit Tigers head out on the road for nine games starting Friday, so the Motor City Kitties would love to leave town having swept the Minnesota Twins. Those AL Central rivals close a three-game set in a Thursday matinee.

MLB Season Record: 3-2

Minnesota Twins At Detroit Tigers

A lot of “experts” around baseball though the Tigers’ championship window had closed after missing the playoffs in 2016 for the second straight year. This is an older team with a barren farm system, so the Tigers were shopping guys like Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez, among others, this offseason to get younger. However, GM Al Avila apparently didn’t get what he was looking for in trade so he kept the team intact. It would be sort of ironic if the Tigers won the World Series this season because that was an absolute passion of owner Mike Ilitch, who died in February. He was spending heavily on the team, losing money doing so, trying to bring the city of Detroit its first title since 1984 before he passed away. Now that Ilitch is gone, the Tigers won’t be among the Top 5 payrolls any longer. Their situation just doesn’t allow that.

Detroit enters this game leading the AL Central at 6-2. I wouldn’t get too carried away yet as Cleveland was the heavy MLB betting favorite to repeat there and likely still will win the division. I could see the Tigers earning one of the AL wild-card spots, and once you get into the postseason anything can happen. Detroit’s lineup looked to be one of the better ones in MLB entering this year, but the pitching staff a question. It has been the opposite. The Tigers are 24th in runs. Cabrera, the two-time MVP, is hitting just .107 without an RBI. Jose Iglesias is at .083 and Justin Upton at .158. Martinez has yet to play this season due to a foot injury. Meanwhile, the Tigers are third in the AL in ERA at 3.42.

Minnesota was the worst team in baseball in 2016, and Paul Molitor entered this year on the short list of first manager to be fired. The Twins, though, are a surprising 5-3 thanks to their pitching. Minnesota’s team ERA of 2.48 is first in the American League. That is 100 percent not going to last. Last year, the Twins were worst in the AL at 5.08. It’s not like they added Clayton Kershaw this offseason.


Probable Pitchers

Keep in mind that because it’s a getaway day game after a night outing, some players could get it off. Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, for example, is not in the starting lineup.

It’s Phil Hughes on the mound for the Twins. He was great in 2014, regressed in 2015 and was downright terrible in 2016 before his season was cut short in June to undergo surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome; he had a rib taken out and still has it as a keepsake. Hughes looked like the 2014 version of himself in his 2017 debut, allowing one run and five hits over six innings in a victory at the White Sox. He didn’t walk anyone and usually doesn’t; one thing Hughes has is control.

Last year, Hughes was 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA in two starts vs. the Tigers. The Twins are 1-5 on MLB picks in his past six vs. Detroit. Cabrera murders the guy, batting .432 with six homers and 14 RBIs in 44 at-bats. Victor Martinez is 12-for-39 career off him with a homer and six RBIs.

Detroit counters with Jordan Zimmermann. He was great early last season but then started struggling, got hurt and wasn’t the same. Zimmermann also was sharp in his 2017 debut, beating the Red Sox in allowing one run and four hits over six innings. He was 2-0 with a 5.14 ERA in two starts a year ago vs. the Twins. Miguel Sano is 2-for-7 against him with a homer. Brian Dozier is 1-for-10 with four strikeouts.

MLB Free Pick: Tigers -134Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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