Tampa Bay Rays (Wade Davis) vs. Texas Rangers (CJ Wilson) Preview and Pick – Line and Total

Tampa Bay Rays (36-18) Wade Davis, at Texas Rangers (28-25) C.J.
Wilson, Rangers Ballpark, Arlington, Texas, 8:05 PM EST, Friday, June
4th, 2010

by Badger of Predictem.com

Betting Line: Rays +105/Rangers -115
Total: 9.5

Two American League teams both in first place in their respective
divisions open up an interesting three-game series at Rangers
Ballpark in Arlington Friday night when the AL East-leading Tampa Bay
continue their road trip to battle the AL West-leading Texas

Tonights opener features a starting pitching matchup of young
hurlers with the Rays righty Wade Davis scheduled to take his turn
against the Rangers struggling lefty C.J. Wilson.

This weekends series will be interesting because neither team is
playing all that well right now, with the Rays coming off a series
win in Toronto but with just a 4-6 record in their last 10, while the
Rangers return home from an 8-game road trip where they finished just
3-5 (3-7 last 10).

Despite the Rangers recent struggles they are still listed as a slim -115 favorite on the moneyline with Wilson on the bump, making the
MLB-best Rays a surprising +105 underdog at sportsbooks with dimelines or reduced juice, especially since the Rays are a dynamite
21-6 on the road this season.

The over/under total opened at 9.5 on the overnight line and is still listed there across the board at all of the offshore sportsbooks on the Web.

Since both Davis and Wilson are still only 10 starts into their major
league careers well need to concentrate on their results thus far in
2010, which on paper favor Wilson by a slight margin.

After pitching well in his first two starts but getting no run
support, the Rangers won six straight games with Wilson on the bump
in April and May even though the lefty only got credit for three of
them. His numbers overall are strong (3.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP), but hes been giving up the long ball of late with four in the last three games.

Wilson has given up five runs in each of his last two starts, both
Rangers losses, and he gave up seven the game before but was bailed
out by his offense in an 8-7 win over the Angels. His WHIP (1.50) and
on-base percentage (.347) in his last three games have exploded,
which is either a sign that the league is starting to figure him out
or the young lefty is starting to hit the wall.

Davis has sort of struggled all season, but because he pitches for
the Rays hes 5-4 (team is 6-4) despite a 4.04 ERA, a .339 OBP and a
high 1.46 WHIP. A look at how slim the margin is between his average
runs allowed (4.2) to his average run support (4.8) tells you all you
really need to know about Davis.

But to his credit he keeps the Rays in the game and has only really allowed more than three runs in a game in three of his 10 starts. Plus, hes already stared down the barrel of facing the Yankees and
Red Sox twice this season, so he wont have much fear facing a
Rangers lineup that is without Nelson Cruz and could also be without
Vladimir Guerrero (questionable with bruised eye).

The big advantage the Rangers do have is a mental one, as they were
5-1 at home in Rangers Ballpark last year versus the Rays so they
know they can beat them with the hammer in the bottom half. The over
was 4-2 in those six games last year.

There are a few betting trends worth noting that could persuade you
one way or the other. The under is 8-2 in Wilsons 10 starts this
year, and 5-0 in the Rays last five games on Friday night. The Rays
are also 4-0 in their last four road games versus a lefty starter,
and 9-0 as a road underdog.

Badgers Pick: This will be a big series for the Rangers to let the baseball world know if they are for real or not. But until I see it,
Im putting my money on the Rays. Take Tampa Bay at +105.