When the Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros meet, of course the series will come down to a rubber match. That’s what we have today after Houston bludgeoned Tampa yesterday, 17-4 to even the series. The Astros are just a game back of the Rangers in the AL West standings at 59-46 and the Rays are 1.5 games behind the Orioles in the AL East.
For the finale, both teams could have their weakness in the starting rotation exposed. The Rays are going with a bullpen day with opener Zack Littell and the Astros are going with a relatively inexperienced Brandon Bielak. Bielak has made 20 career starts over four seasons and 12 of those have come this year when he’s posted a 3.62 ERA and a record of 5-5.
Let’s get right into the odds for the rubber match in Houston because this isn’t just a postseason rematch, it’s potentially a postseason preview.
Rays vs. Astros odds, run line and total
Rays vs. Astros prediction and pick
Typically, a bullpen game from the Tampa Bay Rays is about as good as an ace pitcher for any other team taking the mound, but this season that’s not the case. The Rays have a solid bullpen, but it’s unremarkable and in July it’s been frankly below average. This month that bullpen has an ERA of 4.68 which is 17th in baseball over that stretch. For the year they are 13th with a 3.91 ERA.
So, if the Rays can’t keep runs off the board with their relievers, then they’ll need to put runs up and that’s not something they’ve done a good job of this summer. In the spring they were a terrifying lineup that could dominate any team and any pitcher, but in July they are 28th with a .651 OPS. They are hitting .210 this month and Randy Arozarena and Wander Franco are both hitting under .200 this month in 81 at-bats. That’s not just an extended slump for their two best hitters, but it’s an extended slump for the entire team.
Meanwhile, the Astros are second in baseball in July with 39 home runs and have a .774 OPS despite Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve both missing time. They’ve both returned to the lineup and now things are coming together for Houston. The Astros once again look like the best team in the American League and they’ll win convincingly again today after a blowout win last night.
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Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change