The Rays continue to try and climb back into the AL East lead this week, and they’ll have the right man on the mound in Zach Eflin when they face the Cardinals on Tuesday. Miles Mikolas gets the ball for St. Louis as a difficult season for the team rolls on. The Rays are decisive home favorites at -175 on the moneyline.
Let’s make predictions for Tuesday’s game and break down why
Cardinals vs. Rays Prediction
The Rays probably have the upper hand here as long as Zach Eflin is on the mound. He’s been able to limit baserunners extremely well over the past month-plus, and he’s been at his best when pitching at Tropicana Field. Navigating a Cardinals lineup with some heavy hitters won’t be easy, but the way he handled the Braves and Orioles in July was a terrific sign.
Tampa has been too inconsistent this summer to totally bank on a win, particularly with Randy Arozarena struggling as much as he has. Miles Mikolas has pretty solid numbers on the road, and the Rays are hitting just .236 with a .772 OPS since the all-star break — that’s even with some terrific stretches from Wander Franco and Brandon Lowe.
This Tampa lineup can’t be trusted enough to justify betting on the Rays at -175. Between their inconsistent offense and Eflin’s reliability, though, Under 8.5 Runs (-115) is worth a flier.
Cardinals vs. Rays Prediction: Under 8.5 Runs (-115)
Cardinals vs. Rays Odds
The Rays are pretty decisive home favorites at -175 on the moneyline. The over/under is 8.5 runs.
Pitching has hurt the Cardinals all season, but with Mikolas on the mound rather than Adam Wainwright or a spot starter, this is a St. Louis team that has a chance to play spoiler. The problem? Zach Eflin has looked terrific since the start of July and might be tough to crack on the road.
Cardinals vs. Rays Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Cardinals vs. Rays.
Cardinals’ Patience vs. Zach Eflin’s Control
Few pitchers are as great as limiting walks as Eflin, who carries a pristine 1.3 BB/9 rate into Tuesday’s start.
Along with George Kirby, Eflin has displayed some of the best control of any starter this season. He’s walked exactly two batters in his last seven starts, also surrendering just one home run in that span. It’s why his FIP has dropped to 2.92 even while his ERA has increased slightly. If Eflin keeps this up, he’s in for a big day on Tuesday.
The Cardinals will try to do what teams haven’t been able to do and just get on base. St. Louis is 8th in baseball in walks, so this is a patient lineup that is built to handle a pitcher as steady as Eflin. The Cardinals are also hitting over .270 since the start of July, so Eflin will have to be careful with this group. After he handled both the Braves’ and Orioles’ lineups very well last month, however, it’s hard not to trust Eflin and his terrific home track record in this one.
Randy Arozarena vs. Cardinals Pitching
It’s been easy to ignore at times because of the success Wander Franco and Brandon Lowe have been enjoying, but Randy Arozarena has struggled significantly since the all-star break. Arozarena is hitting just .137 with a .498 OPS since the break, a 10-for-73 stretch that has hampered the Rays’ offense. Tampa badly needs one of the key cogs of its lineup to find some kind of rhythm.
Miles Mikolas has been totally hit-or-miss this season for the Cardinals, keeping walks and home runs low but allowing way too many hits. His strikeout rate has also hit a new low.
Arozarena’s own strikeout rate in the second half is actually slightly better than it was in the first half. Is that a sign he’s just been unlucky at the plate? A very low .154 BABIP is an indicator that better days are ahead for Arozarena, and he’ll be one hitter to watch against the Cardinals’ staff just in case an off day refreshes him.
Cardinals vs. Rays Starting Lineups
Cardinals Starting Lineup
RF Lars Nootbaar L
1B Paul Goldschmidt R
2B Nolan Gorman L
3B Nolan Arenado R
C Willson Contreras R
LF Tyler O’Neill R
DH Jordan Walker R
SS Tommy Edman S
CF Dylan Carlson S
Rays Starting Lineup
1B Yandy Diaz R
SS Wander Franco S
2B Brandon Lowe L
LF Randy Arozarena R
DH Luke Raley L
3B Isaac Paredes R
RF Josh Lowe L
CF Jose Siri R
C Christian Bethancourt R