Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker (32) works in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Fort Myers, Fla.. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
- The Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins begin a three-game series on Monday (April 5th)
- Both teams are off to 2-1 starts
- Read below for a preview and betting prediction on the game
The Tigers and Twins matchup for the first time in 2021 on April 5th. It’s an early start in this American League Central meeting with first pitch due at 1:10 pm ET at Comerica Park. While Minnesota has postseason ambitions in 2021, Detroit is still in the depths of a rebuild. The Tigers have exciting pitching prospects on the way, but it’s the turn of veteran Jose Urena on Monday.
Urena takes on Matt Shoemaker, who’s career has been riddled by injuries. Shoemaker has made just 18 starts across the last three seasons, and signed with the Twins in February on a one-year deal.
Tigers vs Twins Odds
|Team||Runline||Moneyline at FanDuel||Total|
|Detroit Tigers||-1.5 (+120)||-142||O 8.5 (-118)|
|Minnesota Twins||+1.5 (-144)||+120||U 8.5 (-104)|
Odds as of April 4th.
The Twins are currently -142 favorites, and unsurprisingly so given the preseason expectations for these two ball clubs.
At age 34, it will be interesting to see where Shoemaker’s stuff is at. He recorded eight strikeouts in 12.1 Spring Training frames. Qualified by the small sample, there were positive signs in his few outings in 2020, however. After a drop in velocity across the board in 2019, the former Angel was back up at 92 with his fastball and sinker, and had another mile-per-hour on his splitter.
Matt Shoemaker on what excites him about the 2021 Twins:
— Nash Walker (@Nashwalker9) March 30, 2021
Like many pitchers ahead of this season, Shoemaker is a bit of an unknown. His health has always been a question. His velocity returning to around the mark it was at earlier in his career could be a good indicator for the Twins, though. As recently as 2019, when he managed just five starts, the veteran allowed five earned runs in 28.2 innings for the Jays.
He’s unlikely to be a high-strikeout guy, and he wasn’t in 2019. Command is the key, and walking none in 12.1 Spring Training innings suggests Shoemaker won’t be handing out many free passes on Monday.
Tigers Career Stats vs Shoemaker
He was up in the 60th percentile in walk rate last season. This Tigers offense isn’t exactly renowned for working walks. If Shoemaker commands his splitter and fastball, he could get some easy outs against this Tigers line-up.
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Consistency has been the issue for Urena. He was typically inconsistent in Spring Training, walking nine in 14 innings while giving up just seven hits. The stuff is still solid, but he remains an unpredictable pitcher as he makes his 99th career start.
Unsurprisingly, ranking in the bottom 5% of the league in strikeout rate and walking over 12% of hitters was not a recipe for success in 2020. Urena, however, wasn’t necessarily a bad signing for the rebuilding Tigers, who are betting on his upside. This is a chance for Detroit to see what he can do.
Final line for #Tigers RHP Jose Urena: 4.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 3 K. 78 pitches, 36 strikes.
Nine swings-and-misses: six sinkers, three sliders. Fastball averaged 93.9 mph, reached 96.1 mph.
— Evan Petzold (@EvanPetzold) March 29, 2021
Spending his career in the National League until this season, Urena’s history against Twins hitters is very limited. The last two seasons have been rough in general for the hard-throwing Dominican, however. Not a great deal can be read into the 1.93 ERA in Spring Training; the Tigers will be hoping Urena can get back to the pitcher who posted a 3.98 ERA in 178 innings in 2018.
Twins Career Stats vs Urena
This is an explosive Twins line-up, even with Josh Donaldson on the IL. Urena ranked in the 17th percentile in xwOBA last season. Minnesota could do some serious damage against the former Marlin.
Twins Continue Detroit Dominance
The Twins have won six of their last seven against the Tigers. They are a good bet to make that seven out of eight on Monday.
Minnesota is not only more talented offensively. For all the injuries Shoemaker has suffered, he has still been a solid pitcher throughout his career, owning a career 103 ERA+. The same cannot be said of Urena. The Tigers’ starter is at 87 ERA+ for his career, and has never managed to generate strikeouts despite the power sinker and slider combination.
Byron Buxton has been the early star for the Twins offense. Some of his teammates could join the fun on Monday.
Pick: Minnesota Twins -1.5 (+120)
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Sam Cox is a freelance writer and sports junkie, who has spent the past several years immersed in the online gaming industry. He has worked with 888sport, Oddschecker, and Colossus Bets to name a few. Based in the UK, Sam also runs Franchise Sports with his brother.