The MLB playoffs are quickly progressing towards the World Series as the new format has games constantly on. It’s been great to have even a limited season back, and October baseball just feels right. This game, we have the Tampa Bay Rays taking on the Houston Astros as the Rays try to finish off the Astros. We’re not going to lay money on the Dodgers and Braves because the underdog MLB pick just isn’t as tempting.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Houston Astros
Friday, October 16th at 06:07 pm ET at Petco Park
- Tampa Bay: Blake Snell (6-3 3.15 ERA)
- Houston: Framber Valdez (7-4 3.25 ERA)
As much as baseball fans likely lament what's happening in this series as the Houston Astros are extending their on-field lives by winning the last two games, we've seen a great series. The Tampa Bay Rays have to be frustrated by their solid efforts falling short to the explosive lineup and suddenly competent pitching from the Astros. Five rookies pitched in Game 5 and somehow the Astros won with that strategy.
It's been out of desperation for Dusty Baker as his bullpen is running dry. Houston fortunately is set up with starters for the next two games thanks to rest, but this also has allowed the Rays to recover from the same issue. Expect Tampa to unleash their best pitching in this game after ace Blake Snell has his second-go against the Astros.
Both of these pitchers performed well in their first matchup, starting the series with a 2-1 win for Tampa. But Houston's lineup has been crushing the ball as an underdog, helping them win their last five games as underdogs. They need to continue to reach at least four runs to win, and there's more reason for confidence now more than ever.
Errors and field play have been massive factors the last two games and it's hard to account for that. Jose Altuve was redeemed in Game 5 after a shocking two errors in Game 4, so will we see a similar storyline arc for the Rays?
The Rays need to see a lot more out of players not named Randy Arozarena for a win to happen. This lineup has been clutch and effective for so long but the worry with being so reliant on timely hitting is that there's little escape or capability from overcoming limitations. We're seeing that happen right now as the Astros storm back with power.
Looking at the Astros lineup has dramatically more effective hitters right now. George Springer, Michael Brantley, Altuve, and Josh Reddick have hit for both average and some power throughout the series. As good as Snell is, they've seen him already and a second go-around usually helps. Add in the power strokes we can see from Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman at any time and this is the sleeping giant of the season.
I'd said that throughout the regular season despite the franchise struggling to overcome the pressure and hate against them. At some point it seemed hopeless they'd be unable to bounce back and their average record reflected their talent. Maybe it still does, but the Rays must be fearful about this outcome. Going into a Game 7 against a team with momentum and a quality starter will be tough.
I picked the Rays for Game 5 and they had the chance to win it late but fell short. This Astros franchise continues to make good things happen, so why not ride the hot lineup and hit the value play.