Smash & Grab: A Valuable 'Under' MLB Pick In Rays vs. Mariners

Drew Martin

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 7:42 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 10, 2016 7:42 PM UTC

Tonight’s MLB pick pins two southpaws, Drew Smyly for the Rays and Wade Miley for the M’s against each other, and both lefties have shown positive signs recently.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners host the Tampa Bay Rays for the middle game of a three game set after the Mariners took the series opener last night by a final score of 5-2 behind the right arm of Felix Hernandez. Tonight’s matchup pins two southpaws, Drew Smyly for the Rays and Wade Miley for the M’s against each other, and both lefties have shown positive signs recently and project well against the opposing lineups according to the data and the MLB odds.

The visiting team, formerly known as the “Devil Rays,” has won 4 of its last 5 games and currently sits right at .500 in the standings. Tampa has really benefited from a starting rotation that leads the American League in FIP. Rays starters have struck out over 25% of the batters they’ve faced, the highest strikeout rate in the majors. Further, the staff’s walk rate is the third lowest in the American League. The Rays roster construction has also helped in the win column, and when taking into consideration that the Rays’ pitching staff has one of the highest fly ball rates in baseball, it’s nice to have one of the most dynamic center fielders in the game behind them.

Kevin Kiermaier
Last year, Kevin Kiermaier was the best defender in baseball by a wide margin. Depending on which metric is used to measure defensive runs saved, the Rays center fielder accounted for over 40 runs saved last year. With one of the best defensive players in the game and a high fly ball rate, the Rays have a distinct advantage in keeping the Mariners off the scoreboard in the spacious ballpark of Safeco Field.

Rays’ starter Drew Smyly has put up some impressive numbers of late. Since joining the Rays in 2014, Smyly has struck out 28% of the batters he’s faced, which is a five point increase over his previously established norms with the Tigers. That huge strikeout rate has helped him post the tenth highest strikeout-to-walk ratio in the majors this year. Smyly generates movement when elevating his fastball, and he has been able to leverage his natural advantage against batters to a solid pay off.

Pitching up in the zone means more fly balls, and while the home run has given him some problems, he has been able to avoid serious damage by limiting base runners—usually via the strikeout. The former Arkansas Razorback projects very well in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly ballpark, and Smyly has good numbers historically against Seattle throughout his career in addition to having done well against Nelson Cruz (2-for-13) and Cano (0-for-6) lifetime.


Last but certainly not least, these two bullpens are among the best in the American League. The Mariners bullpen is the only group in baseball posting under a 1.0 WHIP to this point in the season. On the other side, the Rays pen is not much worse, having accounted for the seventh best mark at 1.17. Keep in mind also that Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison are both struggling at the plate, and Smyly has had consistent success against the top hitters in the Mariners lineupThe market looks to be slow in reacting to Mariners starter Wade Miley’s recent success, as after a rough start to the season, his last two outings have resulted in only two earned runs over 15 innings pitched. I see no reason for Miley’s recent success to falter tonight, so I strongly recommend an under as your MLB pick on tonight’s nightcap in Seattle.

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Free MLB Pick: Under 7 -115
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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