Tampa thinks it's still alive in the AL wild-card race, while Atlanta is probably just playing out the string. But this handicapper believes the betting line on Tuesday night's Rays-Braves game at the Trop is probably a tad inflated.
Braves-Rays Tuesday Odds
In the early betting the best price we could find on Tampa and Erasmo Ramirez was the -176 offered at BetOnline, while Atlanta and rookie righty Williams Perez were getting +170 at 5Dimes. And every book we checked with listed a total on tonight's game of seven runs.
Tampa just took two of three games at home from the NL East-leading Mets over the weekend, coming from behind to win Sunday's rubber match 4-3. So the Rays have won three of their last four series, and seven of their last 12 games.
At 56-56 Tampa isn't out of anything yet, as it sits just 3.5 games behind Anaheim in the battle for the second American League wild-card spot.
On the other side of this inter-league match-up Atlanta just took three of four games at home from Miami over the weekend, missing the sweep by losing Sunday 4-1. But before that the Braves had lost four series in a row, and 11 of their previous 14 games.
At 51-61 Atlanta has dropped to 12 games behind the Cubs in the fight for the second National League wild-card slot.
This is the second meeting between these teams this season; back in May they split two games up at Turner Field, Perez starting the victory for the Braves, Ramirez starting the victory for the Rays.
Ramirez (8-4, 3.83) is only five-for-17 on quality starts this season, in part because of a short leash. But after a nice run into the All-Star break Ramirez has allowed five runs in two of his last three starts. Last Wednesday he gave up a nickel's worth in six innings against against the White Sox, although all those runs came in the first inning, and three starts ago he gave up five runs in 7 1/3 innings against Baltimore. On the season Ramirez has allowed just 84 hits through 103 innings, walked 30 and struck out 81.
Tampa is 11-6 in games Ramirez has started, with the totals leaning UNDER by a 9-6 margin. But the Rays have also lost his last three starts.
In two career starts against Atlanta, one last year while with Seattle, and one back on May 19 of this season, Ramirez has allowed eight runs on 10 hits through eight innings; his teams managed to win both those games, and both games played OVER.
Perez (4-2, 4.48) is four-for-10 on quality starts, but 0 for his last four, and 0-for-two since returning to the rotation, after a stint on the DL with a foot injury. Last Wednesday he gave up six runs – five earned – and 10 hits through six innings against San Francisco, and just before that he got ripped for nine runs in less than five innings by Philly. On the season Perez has allowed 64 hits in 60 innings, walked 29, which is too many, and struck out 43.
The Braves are 5-5 in games Perez has started, with the totals going 5-4.
In his only career start against Tampa, back on May 20, Perez allowed just one run on six hits through five innings, walking one while whiffing seven, in a 2-1 Atlanta victory.
Tuesday's Batting Splits
Atlanta ranks eighth in the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with a .260 team batting average, and 14th with a .317 team on-base percentage. Meanwhile, Tampa ranks 27th against righties with a .240 batting average and 26th with a .301 team OBP. We'll give the Braves an edge with the sticks.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at the Trop this season are 28-23 on the OVERS, even though those games are averaging just 7.3 runs per, fourth-fewest among all ML ballparks. Apparently, oddsmakers have been posting some low totals on Rays home games.
Braves-Rays Tuesday Free Picks
Ramirez seems an obvious choice for MLB picks in the pitching match-up, but based on their (limited) track records against tonight's opponents it would seem the value on the betting line resides with Atlanta. Also, with a little help from these bullpens, both of which we rank in the bottom third in baseball, this game has a good chance to go OVER.
MLB Picks: Braves and OVER seven runs (+100) at 5Dimes