Game: Tampa Bay Rays @ Philadelphia Phillies
Time: 7:05 p.m. ET
Starting Pitchers: Drew Rasmussen vs. Ranger Suarez
Odds: Rays -116, Phillies +106
After winning six of their last seven games, Tampa Bay has a commanding four-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East race. The Rays got a well-deserved day off on Monday and now find themselves facing the slumping Phillies in Philadelphia. The Phillies did take two from the Padres over the weekend, but those are the only two victories in their last seven games.
Tampa Bay will actually start the game with an opener taking Drew Rasmussen out of the bullpen to throw first. Rasmussen is one of the hardest throwing pitchers in the majors with an average velocity of 97.4 miles per hour on his fastball.
That is one of the reasons why his strikeout percentage is 28.6 percent. The right-hander is 1-1 on the season with a 3.64 ERA, but since the All-Star break Rasmussen has been shutting hitters down. In 21.1 innings since the break, his ERA is 2.11 and his WHIP is 1.03.
Rasmussen is unlikely to last more than four innings. He hasn’t done so in each of his last three starts for the Rays. What he has done though is hold opponents to just one run per game. The Phillies lineup is a bad match against the hard-throwing Rasmussen. Philadelphia is hitting just .187 over the last 15 days with an OPS of .608. Both of those numbers are in the bottom two in MLB over that time span.
Whether Rasmussen goes three, four, or possibly even five innings; it won’t matter. The Rays have one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. Tampa Bay relievers are tied for the second-best ERA in the majors at 3.14. Again, the Rays relievers will be facing a Phillies lineup that is struggling.
For Philadelphia, Ranger Suarez gets the start. He has been a bright spot for the Phillies this season. He sports a 4-4 record, but his ERA is just 1.64. Like Rasmussen, Suarez is primarily a reliever who spot starts from time to time. He will only pitch the first three or four innings as well for the Phillies.
That will be a problem for Philadelphia. Once Suarez is done, the game will then be turned over to a Phillies bullpen that is suspect. The group’s combined ERA is 4.56, which is 21st in the league. Their 1.28 WHIP is also in the bottom half of MLB.
Suarez may be able to hold the Rays to a single run, maybe two, but once the game goes to the Phillies bullpen Tampa Bay’s offense is going to take over. The Rays are second in the majors in runs per game (5.31) and are among the league leaders in several other offensive categories.
The Rays offense has been so good that the Over has hit in 12 of the last 16 Rays’ games. The Over has also cashed in seven of Tampa Bay’s last nine road games and five of the last seven against the Phillies.