Tampa Bay Rays vs. Houston Astros Pick 8/28/19
Tampa Bay Rays (76-57) vs. Houston Astros (86-47)
When: 7 p.m., Wednesday, August 28
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston
Moneyline: TB +180/HOU -200 (BetOnline)
Runline: Rays +1.5/Astros -1.5
Starting Pitchers: Ryan Yarbrough (11-3, 3.29 ERA, 0.87 WHIP) vs. Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.76 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)
Strength vs. Strength
This is a battle of top pitchers, as both Yarbrough and Cole have been practically unbeatable for the past two months. Both pitchers have been on the winning side of the ledger in their past six starts, and both have put up some outstanding numbers, meaning that something has to give in this matchup.
On the Rays’ side, Yarbrough has been excellent on the road, winning six of his past seven road starts and taking a no-decision in the other game because he left before the end of the fifth inning. In that stretch, he’s allowed no more than one earned run in 11 of his past 12 starts. The one negative is that Yarbrough has been getting the job done against tomato cans as of late. Of his past nine starts, five of them have been against the Orioles and Blue Jays, with the other opponents including Detroit, Seattle, and the White Sox along with the Red Sox. Boston is the only one of those teams with any hope of reaching the playoffs, and that was the one that was able to put up runs on Yarbrough, which could be a sign of danger.
Young King Cole
As good as Yarbrough has been for the Rays, Cole has been just as outstanding for the Astros. He hasn’t taken a loss since May 22, he has been on the losing side of the game only twice, and he’s been almost as sharp as Yarbrough despite the extra work. Other than a 9-8 battle against Texas which saw Cole give up four earned runs in six innings of work, Cole has been excellent, giving up no more than two earned runs in this stretch. What’s more, he’s getting it done without having to worry about many baserunners. In his past five starts, no more than four hitters have hit safely, and he isn’t the kind of pitcher that opponents can just wait out, given that he’s only come out of one game before five innings all season.
Where’s the Mentality?
The good news for the Rays is that Tuesday only counts for one loss, as bad as that 15-1 shellacking was. However, a game like that can quickly snowball into two or three losses if a team isn’t careful to stem the tide and get their mentality working in a positive direction. Tampa Bay doesn’t have time to worry about the past now that Cleveland and Oakland have passed them for a wild card spot. The Rays’ chances of making the playoffs are down to 51 percent, and while that’s nothing to sneeze at, it’s a sign of how precarious their situation is.
In contrast, the Astros don’t have anything to worry about mentality-wise after hammering the Rays in the series opener. Their focus is on catching the Yankees, as Houston now sits a mere half-game away from taking the top spot in the American League.
There’s been no real chance for the Astros to build any real rivalry outside of their division in the American League, so this will have to wait to develop properly. Despite getting creamed in the series opener on Tuesday, the Rays have actually had the better of the series this year, beating Houston three out of four in St. Petersburg to lead the series 3 to 2.
- The Rays are 7-1 in their past eight Game 2’s of a series.
- The Rays have won Yarbrough’s past six road starts.
- The Astros are 23-4 in Cole’s last 27 home starts.
- The Astros are 4-1 in their past five against the AL East.
- The over is 4-0 in the Rays’ past four against the AL West.
- The under is 9-1-1 in the teams’ past 11 meetings.
Weather ReportThe first pitch temperature is likely to be 95 degrees, meaning the roof of Minute Maid Park is likely to be closed.
Picking against the Astros at home tends to be a terrible way to make money, but with Yarbrough on the mound and the Rays likely to come in ticked off after getting drilled by 14 runs, it makes sense to do it in this case. The reality is, as good as Gerrit Cole is and has been all season long, you’re not going to make much betting on Houston at -200, and Tampa Bay is a good enough team that you pretty much have to take a risk with them any time they’re available at this kind of a price.
With a pitcher like Yarbrough on the mound and a +180 sitting there behind him, Tampa Bay is just too enticing in this matchup. I hate to go against Cole, but this is the time to take a chance and gamble on the plus money. Give me the Rays.
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