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2020 MLB Team Preview: Detroit Tigers Predictions, Betting Odds, Picks

Timothy Finnegan provides his thoughts on what the 60-game MLB season could look like for the Tigers.

The Detroit Tigers had an extremely poor 2019 season, winning just 47 games, their second lowest win total in franchise history. The Tigers had both the worst record in MLB and the worst run differential, being outscored by opponents by a massive 333 runs. As a result, the Tigers had the first overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft, the second time in the last three seasons that Detroit selected first overall in the MLB draft. Detroit selected Arizona State IF Spencer Torkelson with the first overall pick.

While the Tigers are still expected to be one of the worst teams in MLB in 2020, they did add several veteran major league free agents in the offseason, so they could be in line for an improved winning percentage from 2019.

Notable injuries for the Tigers heading into the summer restart include SP Jordan Zimmermann, who was placed on the 45-day injured list with a forearm strain. P Daniel Norris has also been absent from summer camp due to a positive test for COVID-19.

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DraftKings Sportsbook odds

— Division Winner: +13000

— League Winner: +35000

— World Series: +50000

The season being shortened to 60 games has improved Detroit’s odds on DraftKings Sportsbook from where they originally were in March, as a shorter season can make outcomes more prone to randomness, but the Tigers are still extremely unlikely to contend for the postseason.

For a full list of available bets, head over to DraftKings Sportsbook or download the DK Sportsbook app.

Key Departures:


Key Acquisitions:

C.J. Cron, 1B; Jonathan Schoop, 2B; Cameron Maybin, OF; Austin Romine, C; Ivan Nova, SP

2020 Fantasy MVP

Matthew Boyd, SP

Boyd is one of the few Tigers players that has the potential to carry substantial fantasy value. Boyd was one of only 13 starting pitchers to strike out more than 30% of batters faced in 2019, a strikeout rate that was substantially better than the SP league average of 22%. Boyd also missed bats on a per pitch basis at an elite level, generating a swing and a miss on 14% of his total pitches, 12th best among all starting pitchers. While Boyd’s fantasy value will likely be hurt by poor run support limiting his win total, his ability to rack up strikeouts gives him upside in both seasonal leagues and in DraftKings contests.

2020 Fantasy LVP

Tigers hitting stacks

It’s tough to isolate one Tigers player to call the “least valuable” from a fantasy perspective, because not many Tigers players are being drafted in most fantasy leagues. Let’s just call most of their offense the least valuable player. Detroit has only one player projected to have a better than average wOBA this season — 1B C.J. Cron. Detroit’s home park is also generally unfavorable for power output. While adding Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Cameron Maybin and Austin Romine to the lineup should help improve Detroit’s offense from 2019, the Tigers’ lineup is still looking pretty rough. Tigers hitting stacks are likely going to be highly unproductive in DraftKings contests unless in select circumstances, such as getting a substantial road park upgrade against poor pitching opposition.

2020 Breakout Player

Casey Mize, SP

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the Tigers have selected first overall in two of the last three MLB drafts. Mize was one of those selections, being drafted first overall in 2018. Mize is considered to be one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. Baseball Prospectus ranked Mize as the 12th best overall prospect heading into this season and said that if everything comes together for him someday, he could emerge as a “monster top of the rotation pitcher”.

According to Baseball Prospectus scouting reports, Mize sits around 94 mph with his fastball–topping out around 97 mph–and carries four plus pitches. Mize’s most notable 2019 performance came in an April start in Double-A where he tossed a no-hitter, striking out seven and walking just one in the process.

The Tigers are not expected to begin the season with Mize on the MLB roster in an effort to manipulate his service time, but the injury to Jordan Zimmermann does open up a slot in the starting rotation. Zimmermann is set to miss most or all of the shortened 60-game season, and Mize could be an option to slide into the rotation once the Tigers ensure that they do not burn a year of control by activating Mize too early. The minor league season being canceled also gives Detroit more incentive to get Mize some big league game action, as the developmental time in the majors would be more valuable to Mize than pitching in instrasquad games.

Final Thoughts

The Tigers are in line to have another poor season, but their veteran MLB additions could help them improve to some degree from their dreadful 2019 numbers. Baseball Prospectus‘ PECOTA projection system projects the Tigers to finish with a better winning percentage than 2019, but still in the bottom five of MLB. The Tigers’ most notable fantasy value on DraftKings will likely come in the form of Matthew Boyd starts and park upgrades on the road in hitter-friendly parks against poor pitchers. Casey Mize could also emerge as a strong option on DraftKings if he is eventually called up.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is timfinn521) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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