The Tampa Bay Rays have gotten off to one of the hottest starts in the past 20+ years after sweeping three straight series to open the season.
They’ll look to keep that momentum going today as their ace, Shane McClanahan, takes the bump against third-year pitcher Garrett Whitlock, who is expected to come off the IL to start today’s game.
Boston is the best team that Tampa has faced so far, but I’m still taking the Rays to stay hot.
Red Sox vs. Rays odds, run line and total
Red Sox vs. Rays Prediction
Let’s start with the Red Sox here.
Whitlock has been an impressive pitcher the past two seasons for the Red Sox, but it feels like a stretch to rely on him for even five full innings in his first start back from hip surgery last fall. In six appearances against Tampa Bay, Whitlock has allowed four earned runs on 13 hits with 14 strikeouts across 12 innings of work.
Once Whitlock is out of the game, it might get dicey for Boston. The Red Sox have allowed just 1.22 runs per game from the 6th-9th inning this year (6th best in MLB), but they've also faced the Orioles, Pirates and Tigers in a small sample size (not exactly the most formidable offenses.)
To make matters worse, Boston has taxed its bullpen, especially Tanner Houck and Kutter Crawford as a band-aid for its injured pitchers, leaving the Red Sox in an awkward position for Tuesday's game game.
Then there’s the Rays. The list of pitchers ahead of McClanahan is extremely short for good reason. The Rays’ ace has a 2.45 ERA and 31 strikeouts across five appearances and 29 ⅓ innings in his career against the Red Sox.
When it comes to Tampa’s bullpen, it’s in the discussion for best in the league. The Rays have allowed 0.78 runs per game from the 6th-9th innings this year (2nd best in MLB) a year removed from posting a season-long mark of 1.54 runs per game (5th best).
It's easy to want to bet on the Rays even before looking at their lineup. While the names might not pop like others do, consider that Tampa has scored 15 runs more than EVERY SINGLE OTHER TEAM IN MLB and leads the league with an insane 2.67 home runs per game. Of course, this is an unsustainable pace, but it speaks to how dangerous of a lineup this can be.
Pick: Rays -1.5 (+135)
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.