MLB Odds: Lean Rays In Last-Place Matchup At Twins

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 6:00 PM GMT

Tampa Bay and Minnesota thought they could be playoff contenders in 2016, but as they open a four-game series Thursday night in the Twin Cities, both are last in their divisions.

What You Need To Know
It has been a rough injury week for both teams, especially Minnesota as the Twins have lost two starting outfielders to the disabled list. The first was Danny Santana. He left Monday's game against Oakland with a strained left hamstring and was put on the 15-day DL. Santana dealt with a similar injury earlier in the year on his right hamstring and had to go to the DL. Santana was hitting .218 with one homer and 10 RBIs. To take his spot on the big-league roster, the Twins called up outfielder Byron Buxton. He was once the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball and is a five-tool player. But he was overmatched at the plate as a late-season call-up last year and to begin this season before being sent back down to Triple-A in late April. But the guy doesn't belong in the minors any longer because he tears it up down there. If the Twins are going to rebound in 2017, they need Buxton to start living up to projections.

Meanwhile, Minnesota's other top hitting prospect is outfielder Miguel Sano, himself a former Top-10 overall guy. But he left Tuesday's game against the A's with a left hamstring injury and is on the disabled list. Sano leads the Twins with 11 homers and 27 RBIs. Prior to the injury, he had hit a home run in four of his past six games. Sano has tremendous power and in 2015 as a rookie hit .269 with 18 homers and 52 RBIs in only 279 at-bats. Max Kepler was called up to replace him.

Tampa Bay started this season without closer Brad Boxberger due to offseason adductor (core muscle) surgery. The 2015 American League saves leader finally debuted on Tuesday against Kansas City and then had to leave the game due to a muscle strain in his left side. So he's probably headed back to the DL. Alex Colome has been closing this season and has been very good. The Rays don't get a ton of leads because they are not a good offensive team. The Twins are even worse.


 

Probable Pitchers
Tampa Bay starts left-hander Matt Moore, who is in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. Moore (2-3, 5.31) started the year pretty strong but was 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA in five May starts. On Saturday against the visiting Yankees, Moore got his first win since April 17. He gave up three runs and eight hits over 6.2 innings. He allowed another homer and has given up at least one in eight of 10 starts. The Rays are 20-8 on MLB odds in his past 28 after a quality start.

Moore hasn't faced the Twins since his stellar 2013 season. Joe Mauer is 2-for-4 career off him with two RBIs and two walks. Brian Dozier is 1-for-4 with a double and walk. Eduardo Nunez is 2-for-8 and Trevor Plouffe 1-for-6 with three strikeouts.

The Twins will activate right-hander Kyle Gibson off the disabled list to start Thursday in the spot of Phil Hughes, who has had a major fall from grace. Hughes signed a three-year, $24 million free-agent deal with Minnesota before the 2014 season. Hughes then responded with a terrific 16-10 record and 3.52 ERA. He set the big-league record for a starting pitcher for strikeout-to-walk ratio as Hughes whiffed 186 and walked only 16. The Twins were so happy, they added a new $42 million deal. But Hughes regressed in 2015 and he has been one of the AL's worst pitchers this year at 1-7 with a 5.74 ERA (30 strikeouts, 12 walks). So Hughes has been moved to long relief, which he hasn't done since 2009 with the Yankees.

Gibson hasn't pitched in the majors since April 22 because of a shoulder problem. He is 0-3 with a 6.10 ERA in four outings this season. Last year, he was pretty solid with an 11-11 record and career-best 3.84 ERA in 32 starts. The Twins are 3-9 on MLB picks in Gibson's past 12 series openers. Gibson lost his lone 2015 start vs. Tampa Bay, allowing three runs and eight hits in five innings. The Rays' Brad Miller is 5-for-11 off him career with two doubles. Evan Longoria is 4-for-10 with four RBIs. Logan Morrison is 0-for-6.

Tampa Bay and 'over' even though both offenses stink. Neither pitcher is very trustworthy, however. The Twins are 0-4 in Gibson's past four vs. Tampa. The Rays are 10-3 in their past 13 trips to Minnesota. The 'over' is 4-0-1 in Moore's past five starts. 

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Free MLB Pick:  Rays -114 & Over 8½ -105
Best Line Offered:  at JustBet & Pinnacle