The Texas Rangers stole Game 1 of their AL Wild Card series with the Tampa Bay Rays behind a dazzling performance from Jordan Montgomery (seven shutout innings) to put themselves one win away from advancing to the ALDS.
Tampa Bay’s backs are against the wall, and the team has very little home field advantage to lean on. The attendance for Tuesday’s Game 1 was the lowest for a MLB playoff game in over a century. Not great.
Zach Eflin gets the ball for the Rays in this game against Texas’ Nathan Eovaldi, and he’s looking to force a winner-take-all Game 3 on Thursday.
Can the Rays salvage this Game 2 matchup at home?
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Rangers vs. Rays probable pitchers
- Texas: Nathan Eovaldi (righty) – 12-5, 3.63 ERA
- Tampa Bay: Zach Eflin (righty) – 16-8, 3.50 ERA
Rangers vs. Rays odds, run line and total
Rangers vs. Rays prediction and pick
I’m going to take a shot on the Rays to force a Game 3.
Tampa Bay’s offense was listless against Montgomery, but the team is No. 4 in Major League Baseball in OPS against right-handed pitching this season.
I think this is a terrific matchup for the team’s offense, as Eovaldi was brutal in the final month of the season for Texas, posting a 9.30 ERA across six starts. He did post six shutout innings in July against the Rays – his only start against them this season – but since returning off the injured list in September, he hasn’t been the same pitcher.
This will be the first time that the Rangers will get a crack at Eflin, who closed the final two months of the 2023 season on a high note.
In 11 starts, Eflin led the Rays to a 9-2 record while posting a 3.23 ERA and 3.06 Fielding Independent Pitching. Over that stretch, he allowed more than three earned runs in a start just one time.
Tampa Bay was also an insane 23-8 in Eflin’s 31 outings in the regular season.
If Eovaldi can’t last long on Wednesday, I have very little faith in the Texas bullpen (4.77 ERA this season) to stay scoreless for more than a couple innings (like it did on Tuesday).
The Rays should force a winner-take-all Game 3.
Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.
Find Peter Dewey's betting record here.