Two teams still entertaining playoff hopes could produce a low scoring affair with two hot pitchers taking the bump as the Rays visit the Rangers in Arlington Saturday.
There could be relatively low scoring matchup Saturday night when two playoff hopefuls both with hot pitchers square off as Chris Archer and the Tampa Bay Rays (58-57, 28-28 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Colby Lewis and the Texas Rangers (57-57, 24-29 home) in the second game of a three-game series from Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX at 8:05 ET in a game available on Sun Sports.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 8 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -107.
Wild Card Spot Within Reach
While both of these teams are longshots to win their respective divisions, both are very much in the wild card chase. The Rangers took the series opener 5-3 here last night for their second straight win after wrapping up a road trip with a win in Minnesota on Thursday, leaving them in third place in the American League West and five games behind the first place Houston Astros, but they are only 2½ games behind the Los Angeles Angels for the second wild card.
The Rays had been the winning MLB picks in four straight games before that defeat on Friday, and while they are in fourth place in the American League East at 5½ games behind the first place New York Yankees, they are actually one-half game ahead of Texas in the wild card hunt at two games behind the Angels.
Nice Season for Archer
The Rays have exceeded some expectations this year after long-tine manager Joe Maddon bolted to take the helm for the Chicago Cubs, and one reason for that success has been the emergence of Archer as a bona fide ace. Archer has always had nasty stuff and great potential, but he has been much more consistent this season and the results have been excellent.
Do not be fooled by the deceptive 10-8 record either has Archer has an outstanding 2.62 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 190 strikeouts in 154.2 innings vs. just 38 walks, with that strikeout rate of 11.06 per nine innings ranking third in the Major Leagues behind only Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw! Archer carries a streak of five straight Quality Starts into this contest and he has seven such outings in his last nine starts while going at least six innings each of those last nine efforts.
The main reason Archer does not have a better record is because the Tampa Bay offense has not always been there for him, and that continues to always be a concern.
Lewis Much Improved Lately
Now Lewis does not have great numbers on the season despite his 12-5 record, as he has a 4.61 ERA and a relatively low strikeout rate with 110 in 146.1 innings. By the same token however, he has walked just 27 batters, helping lead to a more representative 1.19 WHIP, and he is currently in the best form he has been in all season.
That is because Lewis now has five Quality Starts in his last six outings after allowing three earned runs on just five hits in eight innings vs. the Mariners in Seattle last Sunday, and none of the five Quality starts were of the cheap variety either as he allowed two earned runs three times and worked at least seven innings on the two occasions he gave up three earned runs.
Lewis has also allowed two earned runs or less in each of his last six starts vs. the Rays and he is now facing a Tampa Bay lineup batting just .238 while averaging 3.56 runs vs. right-handed pitchers overall this year.
An ‘under’ Series in Texas
With these teams staying below the posted total on Friday, the ‘under’ is now 6-1-2 in the last nine head-to-head meetings here in Arlington. Furthermore, the ‘under’ is 4-0 in Lewis's last four starts vs. Tampa Bay.
Expect those patterns to continue with yet another ‘under’ when the Tampa Bay Rays again visit Texas on Saturday.
MLB Pick: Rays, Rangers ‘under’ 8 (-107)