The Rays hope to continue its historic start, opening up a series with the Athletics on Friday. Zach Eflin hopes to build from a strong start in which he limited the Tigers to three hits and one run over five innings.
He'll be countered by Ken Waldichuk, who was dreadful in his season debut. Waldichuk got hammered for six runs on nine hits in only 5.2 innings, so the Rays are in a great position to stay hot offensively.
Tampa is a big favorite, can the club continue to deliver for bettors? Here are the odds before we jump into my best bet for the matchup.
Athletics vs. Rays Odds, Spread, and Total
Athletics vs. Rays Prediction and Pick
This is a pitching mismatch of epic proportions. Frankly, I think the Rays should be bigger favorites here. Even if the pitching matchup wasn't lopsided, Tampa's offensive advantage would be enough to justify a bet on the Rays.
Luckily for us, we've got factors on both sides pointing in the same direction. Eflin has been consistently good for several years now, posting an xERA (expected ERA) under 3.88 for three consecutive seasons. He held a mediocre Tigers team to just three hits last week, and the A's are equally-mediocre with just the 26th-best OPS thus far (.624).
On the other end, Waldichuk compiled a 4.59 xERA in limited appearances last year before posting a disastrous 8.86 mark last week. He's woefully outdrawn here and I don't believe he's up to the challenge.
Tampa Bay has MLB's second-best OPS (.890) to this point and has the superior bullpen and defense as well. Don't overthink this and trust baseball's hottest team to win convincingly.