MLB Picks: Rangers vs. Rays Series Coverage

Willie Bee

Monday, September 16, 2013 12:24 PM GMT

Monday, Sep. 16, 2013 12:24 PM GMT

You know SBR wouldn't miss a series as important as the Rangers and Rays. Game analysis and free MLB picks for the 4-game series are coming your way. What does tonights game look like?

 

19 Sept
Thursday's Game Three

By: Willie Bee

The first three games between the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays have been like watching a couple of old heavyweights trading blows. Thursday's contest finds both clubs sending their top pitchers to the mound for the final round of this fight.

Game 4 features Yu Darvish and Matt Moore facing off after Tampa Bay pulled ahead 2-1 in the series with a 12-inning victory Wednesday. It may be an East Coast game, but it's one of the last matchups on Thursday's abbreviated MLB betting card. Moore and the Rays went out -120, but those MLB odds have swung around to Texas in the -110 to -115 range, after overnight action.

Scoreboard bettors were greeted with a 7 run total that has dropped a half-run.

K & BB Columns Could Fill Up In Duel

Darvish and Moore are entirely different pitchers, but they share traits in the strikeout and walk columns where they are prone to run up totals in both. An MLB-best 256 K's are on Darvish's ledger, nearly 12 per nine innings, but his 3.76 BB/9 rate is 65th among the 80 starting pitchers who qualify for the ERA title. Moore is not among that list after missing more than a month, but has a very respectable 8.56 K/9 rate that is offset by a 4.36 BB/9 clip.

The Rays have won Moore's three assignments since he came off the DL earlier this month, all of them on the road and last Saturday's start in Minnesota cut short by a lengthy rain delay after the third inning. The southpaw beat the Rangers in Texas back in April (5.1 IP, 1 H, 6 BB), and Thursday will be the first time Moore has faced them for a start at home (one relief appearance at home in 2011 ALDS).

Darvish's hard luck has been well documented; he's coming off back-to-back 1-0 losses last Saturday against the Oakland A's just five days after a similar fate vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates. Those were his third and fourth 1-0 setbacks of the season, and Texas has blown several other fine performances this year to sit 14-15 in his starts to drain more than 14 units from bankrolls. Darvish missed the Rays when they came to Texas earlier this year, but dominated them in two starts a year ago, totaling 15 innings with only one earned run allowed. Ironically, one outing was a 1-0 win in Texas.

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Behind The Plate & A Pick

Tony Randazzo will finish off one trip through the umpire rotation when he calls balls and strikes on Thursday. The Chicago native started out the season with a heavy UNDER tendency, but six of his last seven plate assignments have gone past the total to leave him 13-16-1 O/U/P.

Both managers may be tempted to ride their starters tonight a little longer than usual following the workloads on their bullpens in Game 3. The totals have pushed the past two games, and I'm going to look for the lineups to just push tonight past the number for my free pick.

My pick: Rangers-Rays Over 6.5 (-110) at Bet365

 

18 Sept
Wednesday's Game Three

By: Willie Bee

 

Have we seen the last of Jeremy Hellickson this year in the rotation for the Tampa Bay Rays?  Will Alexi Ogando's performance on Tuesday provide a spark for the Texas Rangers to remain in the American League wild card picture?

Texas' 7-1 victory snapped a 7-game losing streak to leave the Rangers and Rays deadlocked at the top of the AL wild card standings, just a half-game ahead of the Cleveland Indians who were busy rallying for a win in Kansas City.  Tampa Bay and Texas will break their tie Wednesday night in the third of this 4-game set, Derek Holland going to the hill for the visiting Rangers opposite Chris Archer of the Rays.

Opening MLB odds had Tampa -140 before action drove that price down a bit.  Scoreboard bettors are looking at a 7 run total that is evenly split at most shops.

Holland Aims To Break 7-Game Winless Streak

There's no one player responsible for Texas' slide the past few weeks, and that includes Holland.  The Rangers, after all, are 18-12 when their southpaw pitches, usually on a premium moneyline price with Texas backers up just 2.0 units in those contests.  But the fact remains he has been horrible in three September starts, all losses.

The most recent defeat was Holland's ugliest of 2013, a 9-8 setback to the Athletics last Friday in Texas where he gave up six runs while only getting nine outs.  Holland pitched well in his only assignment vs. the Rays, but lost it 2-0 when he received no offensive support.

Archer just snapped a mini 2-game skid last Friday with six innings of shutout baseball in Minnesota, striking out seven along the way.  That was his third successive road start, preceded by losses in Anaheim and Seattle, and he returns to Tropicana Field where the Rays have won his last three assignments.  Archer owns a 2.67 ERA in 10 home starts (Rays 7-3), as he prepares to face Texas for the second time in his young career, going seven while allowing two runs for a no-decision in an eventual 4-2 victory for the Rangers in extras. 

Behind The Plate & A Pick

Eric Cooper is coming off a rare OVER in his plate assignments this season, the final at Chicago in last Saturday's White Sox-Indians affair just managing to get past the 8.5 run mark.  That left him 8-19-2 O/U/P for 2013, his only appearance at The Trop finishing UNDER (July 13).

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Texas did slap three homers on Tuesday, but they came from the 1, 2 and 9 hitters while the middle of the lineup remained quiet.  The Rangers need Holland to turn his slide around, but they also need Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios to provide some pop if anything is going to come of this season.  I'm going to count on one of them coming through Wednesday to help push this contest past the total for my free play.

My pick: Rangers-Rays Over 7 (-110) at Bet365

 

17 Sept
Tuesday's Game Two

By: Willie Bee

 

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and believe me, these are desperate times for the Texas Rangers.

A seventh consecutive loss was dealt to the Rangers on Monday, this time courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays who have been dealing with their own struggles since late-August. Wil Myers provided all of the offensive support Alex Cobb needed to nail down a 6-2 victory in the series opener, lifting Tampa Bay to a 1-game lead at the top of the American League Wild Card race while leaving Texas a half-game away from becoming the hunter instead of the hunted. 

Just a couple of days after Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux said his club was happy with Alexi Ogando in a relief role, Texas changed up rotation plans to send Ogando to the mound in Game 2 of this all-important set. Jeremy Hellickson is on tap for the Rays who came out at -125 on the morning MLB odds with an 8 run total.

Follow our Daily MLB Betting Odds Report for a full rundown of our picks.

Ogando On Short Leash In 1st Start Since Mid-August

Nick Tepesch was originally scheduled to start Tuesday for Texas before manager Ron Washington switched things up. Ogando, on the DL three times DL this season, has made four scoreless relief appearances this month and will be limited to four innings and about 60 pitches or so this evening. That likely means Tepesch will see some early relief action, and Washington is certainly hoping for better results than the inning he got out of him in last Friday's series opener vs. the A's, the rookie allowing two runs, three hits and three walks.

Jeremy Hellickson has been a huge disappointment for the Rays after solid showings the past two years. Tampa Bay tried sending him down to the minors in late-August to work on some of the problems, but his two starts back in the bigs since then have seen the same issues as he works deep into counts and can't command the strike zone. 

Those were also his problems when Hellickson faced the Rangers back in April, needing 98 pitches (just 59 for strikes) to get through five innings of an eventual 5-4 loss. 

Behind The Plate & A Pick

Manny Gonzalez, about to wrap up his second full season as an MLB umpire, draws the dish on Tuesday. Sixteen of his previous 29 plate assignments have gone past the total, with home chalk up to -140 cashing 10 of 14 times.

Ogando has a pretty good track record against the Rays, including a victorious start in Texas back in April plus the two playoff series in 2010-11. He may be the better option over Tepesch at this stage, but throwing him out there without being stretched out since his last DL stint, something Maddux alluded to over the weekend, is a sign of desperation on the part of Texas.

[gameodds]3/243671/?r-1=19-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

The flip side is it's tough to have much confidence in Hellickson at this stage, so maybe a 5-inning play on the Rangers is the best bet. As for a full-game wager, my free pick is OVER. 

My pick: Rangers-Rays Over 8 (+100)

 

16 Sept
Monday's Series Opener

By: Willie Bee

 

Will the next four days in St. Petersburg help decide the American League playoffs, or only muck things up? If I was a bettin' man, and I am, my wager would be on the latter.

One way or another, the season is about to be shot to hell for either the Texas Rangers or Tampa Bay Rays, maybe both. A split over the course of the next four days could do just that, keep both teams from playing on this October, and the sadist in me is rooting for it to happen. Then the fan in me says root for them both to earn wild-card spots since I love Nolan Ryan and Joe Maddon. The Texan inside my head screams, "You have to root for the boys from the Lone Star State, old man!" All while I have Matt Moore, Alex Cobb and Jeremy Hellickson on my fantasy team, and need them to finish strong.

It can be a full-time job sometimes just dealing with all of the voices squeezed into my 7-7/16 sized head, according to the folks down at Paris Hatters in San Antonio, and they're the experts. That means sometimes that have to stretch a 7-3/8 or reshape and possibly shrink a 7-1/2 to make it fit. But enough about my fat head, and on to making heads or tails from the baseball betting side of things for this series between the Rays and Rangers.

Garza, Cobb Cast Out As First Lines Of Defense

Monday's MLB odds opened with the Rays -140 on the overnight moneyline along with a 7.5 run total that leaned 15¢ to the low side of the scoreboard hurdle. In a series that will feature all three Tampa Bay pitchers on my fantasy team -- four if you include reliever Jake McGee -- it is Alex Cobb who will lead things off for the Rays against Matt Garza for the Rangers.

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For Garza, there has to be even more pressure on him to stop Texas' 6-game slide while facing his old 'mates from Tampa Bay for the very first time. The Rangers have won six of his 10 assignments since joining the team in late-July, but only one of those was on the road (against the Astros) and he has made just one quality start among the last eight.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has lost Cobb's last four starts after winning his first two off the DL in mid-August. Control has been a bit of an issue since returning from being nailed on the noggin by a line drive in June; Cobb has issued 17 walks in 36.1 innings following his injury (4.21 BB/9), well above the 2.47 BB/9 rate he had prior.

Monday will be his third career start vs. the Rangers, taking no-decisions in the previous two (both won by Tampa Bay) with a 4.90 ERA. 

Texas Needs Repeat Magic from 2010-11 Playoffs In St. Pete

As far as regular season stats go, Texas has the 79-63 advantage in this series, but the Rays are 28-26 since the start of the '07 schedule, 15-6 at Tropicana Field. If you throw in the playoff games from 2010-11, the Rangers are 85-66 overall, five of their six extra victories coming at The Trop where they won every ALDS game played between the two on this field. 

The teams met in St. Pete just a little more than a year ago, Tampa Bay taking two of three and the entire series cashing for UNDER bettors. The Rangers won two of three in Texas way back in the second week of the 2013 season, two of those clashes failing to reach total along with a push. 

Neither team has any recent injuries to worry about as they reach this series in pretty good health. Nor do we have to worry about the weather in this series since it's being played indoors. 

Garza had a pretty good track record at Tropicana Field his final two seasons pitching for the Rays, and Cobb has pitched well here this season (Tampa 7-4 in his 11 home starts). Still, neither has been in good form recently and even though the Rangers are in a funk offensively, I'm going to get behind the two lineups tonight with a free pick on the OVER. 

My pick: Rangers-Rays Over 7.5 (+105) at Bet365
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