Tampa Bay Rays vs. Houston Astros Pick – Game 5 Analysis
Tampa Bay Rays (99-68) vs. Houston Astros (109-57)
When: 7:05 p.m., Thursday, October 10
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston
Moneyline: TB +230/HOU -270
Runline: Rays +1.5/Astros -1.5
All Or Nothing
A true elimination game is like nothing else in sports, and that’s especially true in baseball because it really is all hands on deck in this contest. The only pitcher who almost definitely won’t be available should his team need him is Houston’s Justin Verlander, as he was the starter in Game 4 and pitched a typical workload. That means this situation actually favors Tampa Bay, because not only are the Rays experts at bullpen games, but they are experienced in bringing in a new pitcher after only two or three innings of work from the existing hurler.
Houston doesn’t really have a lot of that kind of experience, meaning that the Astros are almost certainly going to ride Gerrit Cole as long as they possibly can. Cole is good enough to beat the Rays on his own, but if Tampa Bay can get into the Astros’ bullpen, the Rays would have the edge.
History In the Making?
The Rays are on the precipice of doing something only seven clubs have previously done: advance past the Division Series after losing the first two games of the series. Of those seven, four of them — the 1999 Red Sox, the 2003 Red Sox, the 2012 Giants, and the 2017 Yankees won the decisive fifth game on the road. The Giants’ triumph came in a year where the series used a 2-3 format instead of 2-2-1, meaning that the only clubs to overcome both the deficit and travel between both cities are the Rays’ AL East brethren.
The Rays will also be trying to create another kind of history: the double upset of the top overall seed. For all the hype that the wild card game is supposed to give the top seed a huge advantage in the Division Series, but in the eight years of the wild card game, the top seeds are just 8-7 against the wild card winners. But only once have both leagues’ wild card team knocked out the top overall seed. That happened in 2014 when the Giants and Royals not only pulled off the upset, but they followed up by winning their LCS matchups, setting up a World Series of wild cards.
For the Rays to join them, they’re going to have to keep the Astros off-balance with their multitude of pitch-ing options. Tampa Bay’s reliance on openers means that it has a deep bullpen and plenty of options to go with should Glasnow run into trouble. The key here will be if Kevin Cash, managing in his first elimination game, knows when it’s time to change pitchers or gets overwhelmed by the moment.
Home field advantage doesn’t really exist in Game 5 of the Division Series. In fact, after Wednesday’s wins from the Cardinals and Nationals, the visitor is now 19-12 in Game 5 of the Division Series since it was created in 1995. Neither Houston nor Tampa Bay has ever won a Game 5 in the ALDS, although the Astros did win two Game 5’s in the NLDS against Atlanta before switching to the American League. The Rays fell at home in 2010 to the Rangers, while the Astros lost to Kansas City in 2015. This marks the first time that Houston will have ever played a Game 5 in the Division Series at home, as the Astros’ previous three Division Series that went the distance all came when Houston won the wild card.
- The Rays have lost their past five ALDS road games.
- The Rays are 6-1 in Glasnow’s past seven road starts.
- The Astros are 27-4 in Cole’s last 31 home starts.
- The Astros have won their past six ALDS home games.
- The under is 4-1 in Glasnow’s past five road starts.
- The under is 4-1 in Cole’s past five starts.
With the mercury hitting 91 at first pitch, the Astros will almost certainly elect to close the roof.
Unlike Verlander, Cole is pitching on normal rest and has the experience needed to succeed. Plus, he’s been almost lights out at home this season, and so have the Astros, winning 60 games in Houston this season for a franchise-best.
So why consider the Rays? The price on the Astros is prohibitively high, and the Rays look like they’ve got all the confidence in the world as they head into the fifth and decisive game. Tampa Bay knows it’s tough to beat in its opener strategy, and the Rays have almost all of their arms at full strength and ready to pitch and make it a battle.
Houston isn’t hitting the way it usually does, and Tampa Bay is looking like a team that will somehow find a way to overcome 0-2 and set up a showdown in the ALCS with the Yankees. As I think this game will be a tight one, that means it makes perfect sense to pick the Rays and take a shot with that high money line. Give me the Rays here.
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