Rays vs. Rangers prediction and odds for Wednesday, July 19 (Back Tampa's Bullpen)

The Rays are leaking oil, but their bullpen is the only thing holding the team together.
Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Zack Littell (52)
Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Zack Littell (52) / David Frerker-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays still have the best record in the American League, but that might not last for much longer. The Texas Rangers have taken the first two games of this three-game series and are on the verge of a sweep.

Texas is 57-39 and Tampa Bay is 60-38. The Orioles are also in that mix at 57-37. 

It’s an afternoon start for the series finale today and the Rays will turn to their bullpen to try and fight off the sweep. Zack Littell will be the opener for a classic Tampa Bay bullpen day against Jon Gray. Gray has made 17 starts for the Rangers this year and is 6-5 with a 3.45 ERA. 

The Rangers have yet to lose a game after the All-Star break and they’re the favorites at home in the series finale today. 

Rays vs. Rangers odds, run line and total

Rays vs. Rangers prediction and pick

Texas got a great performance from Nathan Eovaldi who went six scoreless innings yesterday, but I’m not sure they can count on something similar from Jon Gray.

Gray has a FIP of 4.59 and an expected ERA of 4.35 this season. His last three starts have been poor and Texas has lost three of his last five. Over that stretch he has a 6.75 ERA with 5.68 strikeouts per nine innings to 4.62 walks per nine. He’s allowed four home runs in those 25.1 innings. 

While Gray has been pitching his worst, the Rays bullpen has been pitching its best. For the year Tampa Bay is 10th in bullpen ERA at 3.80, but it has figured out the right collection of relievers with a few early season trades and has taken off.

Since June 1, the Rays relievers have the second best ERA in baseball at 3.02 and have logged the sixth most innings. 

I’m not liking the bats for Tampa Bay right now. Over the last 30 days they’re 23rd in team OPS while the Rangers are second, but they still have firepower in that lineup and I trust their bullpen much more than I trust Jon Gray.

I’ll take the Rays to salvage a game in this series, but in the long term I think they absolutely lose their grasp on the AL East. 

Follow all Josh Yourish’s bets HERE

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