After an Independence Day pitcher’s duel between Aaron Nola and former Phillie Zach Eflin, the AL-best Rays are down 1-0 in this interleague three-game set. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for game 2, where my prediction is another Phillies win and for the under to hit for a total of 9 runs.
Phillies Vs. Rays Prediction
Don’t look now, but the Phillies are surging. On the strength of 6 wins in their past 8 games, including that series-opening win against Tampa, the defending NL Champs are in the thick of the playoff race halfway through the season. The Braves are running away with the NL East, but the Fightin’ Phils are tied for the NL’s third Wild Card spot, and are within striking distance of the fourth-seeded Marlins.
Conversely, the Rays have slipped just a bit from their outstanding early-season form. They’re still the top team in the AL, but they’ve surrendered the best record in the MLB to the aforementioned Braves, and their lead in the American League East is a solid but not remotely insurmountable 6 games.
They’re still having an excellent season, but if they want to secure their first-ever World Series title, they’re going to want to be getting better rather than worse as the season progresses. With a daunting series against Atlanta up next as their last test before the All Star break, the Rays are going to want to pick up some wins against Philly.
When I initially started putting this prediction together, Yonny Chirinos was listed as Tampa’s probable starter, but now I’m seeing righty reliever Zack Littell, which would indicate a bullpen game. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the Rays bullpen is one of the best in the business, but it definitely changes the approach to the ballgame.
I’m leaning towards the under, the Phillies have done a lot of damage in early innings, and when seeing a starter the second time around; they could have a tough time adjusting to a lot of new looks. Their recent winning ways have also been more driven by pitching success than offense, and Wednesday’s starter Taijuan Walker is in good form.
In what I’m seeing as another pitcher’s duel, I’m going to take Philly to pick up another win. I simply trust Walker right now more than the Rays bullpen, and the Tampa lineup isn’t really hot at the moment either, with the exception of a couple of major outbursts. At even money, I love the value on both of these wagers.
Phillies Vs. Rays Prediction: Phillies ML (+100), u9 runs (+100)
Phillies Vs. Rays Odds
The Phillies are even money at home with +100 odds, compared to -120 for Tampa. For a total of 9, the over is -120 as well while the under is +100.
Phillies Vs. Rays Key Matchups
Taijuan Walker Vs. A Well-Rounded Lineup
Walker is coming off of an exceptional June in which he tossed a 1.50 ERA in 6 outings after some struggles to start the year. The veteran doesn’t excel in terms of velocity, but still does well limiting quality of contact.
He somewhat prefers to face righties, which shouldn’t be a huge factor as the Tampa lineup is fairly balanced. Still, it could give him an edge against key bats like Randy Arozarena and Yandy Diaz, arguably the best two in the Tampa lineup.
That being said, Tampa’s lineup is one of the most balanced in the sport. They can roll out 7 guys with meaningful playing time and a season OPS over .800, which is pretty remarkable at this point in the campaign.
There have been expected standout performances such as those from Diaz, Arozarena, young phenom Wander Franco and more, but let’s talk about a surprise- Luke Raley. He’s in the midst of what could be a major breakout this year with a .950 OPS after being in the .500s in limited action with the Dodgers and Rays over the past couple of seasons. I believe in Walker to limit this lineup enough to keep the total under and win the game, but it’ll be a exciting matchup to follow.
Rays Bullpen Vs. Bottom Of The Lineup
As I alluded to earlier, relief man Zack Littell is starting. He;s had a tough year between Boston and Tampa, but in his one performance as an opener, he tossed 2 shutout innings vs Arizona. Of course, this matchup involves the entire bullpen, and their 3.82 ERA is good for 9th in the league.
With some of Philly’s star bats struggling in various ways- Kyle Schwarber’s league-worst batting average, and Bryce Harper’s shocking power drought come to mind- it’s worth highlighting that the guys farther down the lineup are chipping in really well. Brandon Marsh is a great example, not too many 8th or 9th hitters are sporting an .800 OPS like he is, but that’s where he’s often hit for the Phillies this year.
Bryson Stott and Alec Bohm are also some good contributors down the lineup, both hit 6th or lower most days and they each have a very respectable (and at the moment, identical) OPS of .754. The sole weak link might be the remaining hitter in the bottom part of the lineup, either Edmundo Sosa or Darick Hall, depending on Sosa’s health, but overall this lineup’s consistency is a major reason I have the Phillies hitting their +100 moneyline in my Phillies vs. Rays prediction.
Phillies Vs. Rays Starting Lineups
Phillies Starting Lineup
LF K. Schwarber L
SS T. Turner R
RF N. Castellanos R
DH B. Harper L
C J. Realmuto R
2B B. Stott L
1B A. Bohm R
CF B. Marsh L
3B E. Sosa R
Rays Starting Lineup
1B Y. Diaz R
SS W. Franco S
DH L. Raley L
LF R. Arozarena R
3B I. Paredes R
2B B. Lowe L
CF J. Siri R
C C. Bethancourt R
RF J. Lowe L