MLB Picks: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers

Darin Zank

Monday, September 30, 2013 2:56 PM GMT

In a MLB first two teams will play an extra game to decide who gets to play a one-off wild-card game, as the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays meet at the Ballpark in Arlington Monday night (8:05 pm ET, TBS).

Tampa is sending a Cy Young Award winner to the mound for this one, while Texas is going with a virtual rookie.

Who are we backing with our MLB picks tonight?

Monday's Betting Line

In the early betting on Monday's game most MLB betting outlets were chalking Tampa and David Price at around -125 over Texas and fellow lefty Martin Perez, with a total of 7.5. But most shops then dropped the Rays to around -115.

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Rays-Rangers: The Set-Up 

Tampa entered the last series of the season at Toronto with a magic number of two to clinch a wild-card berth, but lost the first two games Friday and Saturday, while Texas was beating the Angels. 

Then Sunday the Rays jumped out to a 7-0 lead, then had to hang for dear life for a 7-6 victory. 

Texas, meanwhile, swept four games from the Angels over the weekend to extend its winning streak to seven games and force this one-game playoff.

Texas took the season series from Tampa four games to three, with the totals going 3-3-1. 

The Rangers also knocked the Rays out of the playoffs in both 2010 and 2011.

Share your thoughts on tonight's game with fellow bettors.

Monday's Pitching Match-Up 

Perez (10-5, 3.55) is 10-for-19 on quality starts this season, and recently won six games in a row. Last time out he held Houston to three runs through seven innings, and over his last three starts he's allowed seven ER through 19 innings. 

On the season, which for Perez basically began in late June, he's given up 125 hits in 119 innings, and owns a 79/35 K/BB ratio. 

Texas won 12 of Perez' 19 starts this year.

This will be Perez' first-ever start against Tampa Bay. 

David Price (9-8, 3.39) is 17-for-26 on quality starts this year, and three for his last four. Last time out he held the Yankees to two runs through seven innings, and over his last four starts he's allowed eight ER through 26 1/3 innings. 

For the season the defending AL Cy Young winner has allowed 171 hits in 178 innings, and owns an excellent K/BB ratio of 147/26.

But Tampa has only managed to go 13-13 in Price's starts this season.

Price had missed Texas so far this year. Last year, in two starts against the Rangers, he gave up eight ER and 16 hits in 10 1/3 innings; the Rays split those two games. 

In the battle of the bullpens Texas ranks fourth with a 2.91 ERA and has closed out 46 of 57 save opportunities, while Tampa ranks 18th with a 3.59 ERA and is 42-for-60 on save opps.

Rays-Rangers With the Sticks

Texas ranked 10th in team OBP at .324, eighth in homers with 176, second in stolen bases with 148 and eighth in scoring at 4.5 runs per game. 

The Rays ranked fourth in OBP at .329, 12th in homers with 164, 21st in swipes with 72 and 12th in scoring at 4.3 RPG. 

Rays-Rangers Betting Trends 

Tampa is 20 games over .500 on the season, but one game under .500, 40-41, on the road.

Texas is 46-35 at home.

The OVER/UNDERS are a lop-sided 29-48 in games played at the Ballpark this year.

Personnel Update

Texas OF Nelson Cruz, who hit 29 homers this year before getting suspended for 50 games, has been activated and is likely to play Monday night. 

Our Take on Monday's Game 

It would be easy to give Price the advantage in the pitching match-up, but that might not be the case. The Rangers have actually beaten Price five of the last seven times they've faced him, while the Rays have never gone against Perez. In our book, that should give Perez a bit of an advantage. Also, Texas comes in hot, riding a seven-game winnings streak, and is getting a home-dog price. So we'll go with the Rangers for our free sports pick for Monday. 

MLB Pick: Take Texas at the +110 offered at SBR Sportsbook.

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