In just his second start with the Rays, Aaron Civale faces his former team Friday night after the Guardians sent him to Tampa at the trade deadline. Opposing him on the mound is the man who took his spot in Cleveland’s rotation, reliever-turned-starter Xzavion Curry.
The Rays are heavy betting favorites at -198 on the moneyline, while the over/under is set at 8.5 runs. The prediction here is that the Rays win and the under hits.
Guardians vs. Rays Prediction
Starting pitchers: RHP Xzavion Curry (3-1, 2.95 ERA) vs. RHP Aaron Civale (5-3, 2.55 ERA)
When the Guardians double-checked their schedule after trading Aaron Civale to Tampa, they could not have been thrilled to see they would be paying their old friend a visit just a few weeks later.
Civale makes his home debut for the Rays after an inauspicious first start with his new club. On Saturday in Detroit, he failed to finish the 5th inning for just the 2nd time this season, allowing 3 runs on 9 hits over 4-1/3 innings.
Call it the new jersey jitters, because little else could explain Civale’s uncharacteristic outing. It was only the 3rd game all season in which Civale allowed at least 3 earned runs, and his first since June 25.
The Guardians do have the benefit of having plenty of knowledge of Civale’s strengths and tendencies. They also get the better side of their hitting splits, especially star slugger José Ramírez, who is hitting .322 with a .943 OPS against righties compared to .210 and .642 against lefties.
Don’t expect that to portend too much offense by the Guardians against their former teammate. They are still just 21st in OPS and 20th in wRC+ against righties this season, and 25th overall in runs scored.
When the Guardians have succeeded this season, it has been on the merits of their pitching staff – the one that just lost Civale. Today’s starter Xzavion Curry has been one of their best arms out of the bullpen, but he is now getting stretched out as he transitions into the rotation. Tonight will be just his 2nd start since being named a starter and his 5th start overall this season.
Curry threw 65 pitches in his last start Sunday against the White Sox, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits over 5 innings. He should be able to go a bit deeper tonight, but he will face a much tough test against the Rays’ lineup.
Tampa may have cooled off from their torrid start to the season, but they are still one of the most dangerous lineups in the league and are 12th in wRC+ since the All Star Break.
Given the lopsided matchup and the game being in Tampa, you are not getting much value by taking the Rays’ moneyline at -198, but it’s still a better bet than taking the Guardians. Consider laying the -1.5 runs to get this pick at +110 odds instead.
Even with a relatively low line of 8.5, the under also looks like a good play today considering the caliber of the starting pitchers.
Guardians vs. Rays Prediction: Rays moneyline (-198), under 8.5 runs (-110)
Note: all metrics above taken before Thursday’s games
Guardians vs. Rays Odds
The Rays are heavy betting favorites at -198 on the moneyline, while the Guardians have +164 moneyline odds.
The Rays are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at +110 odds, while the Guardians are getting +1.5 runs at -130 odds.
The over/under in this game is 8.5 runs with -110 odds on the over and -110 on the under.
Guardians vs. Rays Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Guardians vs. Rays.
Aaron Civale vs. José Ramírez
Aaron Civale’s dominance this season was the main reason for picking the Rays in our Guardians vs. Rays prediction. Despite his bad outing in his Rays debut, expect the home crowd to help propel him to a much better home debut.
If the Guardians are going to do any damage against Civale, they are going to need to get something from José Ramírez. They have plenty of left-handed bats to throw at the righty Civale, but none are as dangerous as Ramírez.
For his career, Ramírez hits close to the same average against both righties and lefties, but he hits for more power as a lefty (.874 OPS compared to .817 as a righty), and those splits are even more stark this season (as noted above).
The Guardians will need some big at-bats from Ramírez in this game, especially with his potential suspension looming. If Civale can keep his bat quiet, he stands a much better chance of earning his first win as a Ray.
The Guardians have had one of the best bullpens in baseball for most of the season, but their relief staff has been taxed lately by the impact of injuries and trades in the starting rotation. While they own the league’s 3rd-best bullpen ERA this season (3.55), that mark has plummeted to 5.29 (28th) since the All-Star break.
Closer Emmanuel Clase has the 3rd most saves in the league, but he also has a league-high 8 blown saves. His last one came August 6 in Curry’s last start.
Cleveland should still have the edge over Tampa based on talent alone, but recent performance and workload swing this battle towards the Rays.
Guardians vs. Rays Starting Lineups (Projected)
Guardians Starting Lineup
LF Steven Kwan (L)
2B Andres Gimenez (L)
3B Jose Ramirez (S)
DH Oscar Gonzalez (R)
1B Cole Kalhoun (L)
CF Myles Straw (R)
SS Gabriel Arias (R)
RF Will Brennan (L)
C Cam Gallagher (R)
Rays Starting Lineup
1B Yandy Diaz (R)
SS Wander Franco (S)
2B Brandon Lowe (L)
LF Randy Arozarena (R)
3B Isaac Paredes (R)
RF Luke Raley (L)
DH Harold Ramirez (R)
CF Josh Lowe (L)
C Christian Bethancourt (R)