Rays vs. Angels MLB Picks: Lefty-Loosey

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Rays vs. Angels MLB Picks: Lefty-Loosey
Andrew Heaney #28 of the Los Angeles Angels. Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP

The Tampa Bay Rays have a smidge of betting value for Thursday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Angels – but do they belong in your MLB picks?

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels

Thursday, May 06, 2021 – 09:38 PM EDT at Angel Stadium

The Tampa Bay Rays can’t be this bad, can they? Well, yes – yes they can. The reigning American League champions were 16-15 heading into Wednesday’s road game versus the 13-15 Los Angeles Angels, and that was with a minus-3 run differential, so if anything, Tampa might be even worse than advertised. But why should anyone be surprised? The Rays won the pennant last year after playing just 60 games, with a record of 14-5 in one-run contests. Water seeks its own level; so do baseball teams.

Having said that, we’ll neither fade nor follow the Rays in Thursday’s series finale. They’ve opened as +105 underdogs on the MLB odds board at bet365, in a game where FiveThirtyEight project them to win 49 percent of the time – that’s the equivalent of +104 (vig-free) using the adorable SBR Odds Converter. One cent of juice does not a value pick make. So how about that 8.5-run total, then? Is either side of that line worth betting?

The Big A

Maybe. Just about any outdoor game on the West Coast is worth considering the Under for your MLB picks, given the deadening impact of all that fresh, clean Pacific air... oh, wait, we’re in Anaheim. Angel Stadium has been a pretty good hitter’s park since they installed those big-ass video boards in left and right field three years ago, which also saw them bring the home-run line in right down from 18 feet to eight feet. If you’re a left-handed hitter like, say, Shohei Ohtani (.938 OPS), that’s a good thing.

Also, if you’re a pitcher like Shohei Ohtani, it has to drive you mental how small the foul territory is at Angel Stadium. But he’s not the projected starter for Thursday’s matchup; that would be Andrew Heaney (3.69 FIP), and while the southpaw is naturally protected somewhat from all those left-handed mashers, he still has the Over at 4-1 this year, including 2-0 at home. Angels relievers rank No. 17 in the majors with a 4.00 FIP, so we can ignore them in our calculations for now.

Fleming Turkey Wings

At press time, the MLB website doesn’t list a projected starter for the Rays – which may explain why bet365 are the only online sportsbook with a line on this game. But pretty much every sports media site out there has lefty sophomore Josh Fleming (4.03 FIP) taking the mound for Tampa Bay. Fleming has the Under at 4-0 this year, and the only current Angel to ever face him is Phil Gosselin, who went hitless in two at-bats with a strikeout. Well then.

Maybe the weather report will help us out. It’s should be clear skies over Anaheim with temperatures in the high 60s at game time, and a light breeze of just under 10mph heading towards center field. That’s nice for the Over, but then again, you’ve got that West Coast humidity at around 65 percent.

Oh, and did we mention that Heaney has a 5.25 ERA, which may be inflating Thursday’s total just a bit? And that Tampa’s bullpen ranks 10th overall with a 3.80 FIP? Let’s defer to these two southpaws and put a slight lean on the Under for this matchup, given the extra five cents we’re getting on the juice – and may the sphere be with you.

MLB Pick: Under 8.5 (–110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Under 8.5(-110)
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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.