The Tampa Bay Rays are the hottest team in the sport and turn to Jeffrey Springs today, who dazzled over six no-hit innings against the Detroit Tigers in his season debut. He wracked up a dozen strikeouts to just one walk, looking like he leveled up into an ace over the offseason.
Springs is countered by Shintaro Fujinami, who was as bad in his first start as Springs was good in his. Fujinami gave up eight earned runs in just 2.1 innings against the Angels, so he's hoping for a significantly better performance this time around.
Tampa Bay is once again a big favorite and I see value in backing the Rays to win convincingly. Let's take a look at the odds before I explain why.
Athletics vs. Rays Odds, Spread, and Total
Athletics vs. Rays Prediction and Pick
I don't mean to overreact, but Springs might be in for a MONSTER year. He burst onto the scene last year as a converted reliever, ending the year with a 2.46 ERA while allowing one or zero runs in five of his final seven starts. He posted a 3.27 xERA, implying his performance was no major fluke.
Through one start, he's got a 0.54 xERA. While it came against the lowly Tigers, Oakland's offense isn't much better. The A's are 23rd in OPS against left-handed pitchers (.659) and have been held to four or fewer runs in every game but one this year.
In short, Springs would have an advantage even if Fujinami wasn't an abject disaster last week. He walked three batters and allowed five hits, surrendering eight runs in total before getting pulled. Tampa is near the top of the league in every major offensive category, so this is a mismatch of epic proportions.
Back the Rays to cover the run line as Springs dazzles and Fujinami struggles. I'll keep riding the Tampa Bay gravy train for as long as possible, especially against such an inferior opponent.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.