The playoff picture is now set for Major League Baseball. Within the bracket, the Tampa Bay Rays will go up against the Texas Rangers in a best-of-three Wild Card series at Tropicana Field. The games will be played from Tuesday through Thursday, Oct. 3-5.
As the regular season closes, both teams finished with 90+ wins (the Rangers had 90 and the Rays had 99). It is the first time Texas has made the postseason since 2016 and it is the fifth straight time Tampa Bay has made it to October baseball.
When it comes to the 2023 season head-to-head between the two teams, the Rays went 2-4 against the Rangers this season. Both wins Tampa Bay had came in St. Pete and 5 of the 6 total wins in the season series were done by the home team. Home field advantage is huge in any postseason game, but this matchup has shown it is a critical factor.
Tampa Bay is also entering this series playing some good baseball. They are winners of six of their last nine and won the final two series of the season that were both on the road against the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox. As for Texas, they are going through a rocky phase being winners of just two of their last six. However, prior to those six games, they rode a six-game winning streak.
The strength of these two teams stems from their batting lineups that have produced crazy run differentials all season. They are both top five in major league baseball with the Tampa Bay Rays ranking third (+195) and the Texas Rangers ranking 4th (+165). It may come down to what pitching staff can be more dominant throughout the stretch of two to three games.
The Rangers have yet to decide what pitchers they will throw out there in games one and two. But, the Rays will have Tyler Glasnow opening the series with Zach Eflin pitching in game two. Both aces have been the best-looking arms in St. Pete as they both have ERAs under 3.55.
Glasnow has been great agaisnt the Rangers' lineup in his career with an allowed opposing batting average of .189.
Eflin does not have a healthy amount of pitches to look at against Texas, but he has been stellar inside of Tropicana Field. During the 2023 season, his ERA in St. Pete is better than his overall split average and he has 120 strikeouts at home. His record in the Trop sits at 11-4.
The first pitch for game one of the wild card round between the Rangers and Rays is at 3 p.m. E.T. on ABC.