Nationals vs. Rays MLB Preview and Odds Analysis

Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals. Rich Schultz/Getty Images/AFP

Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals. Rich Schultz/Getty Images/AFP

Washington Nationals vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Tuesday, June 08, 2021 – 07:10 PM EDT at Tropicana Field

Probable Pitchers:

  • Nationals: Jon Lester (1-0, 4.37 ERA)
  • Rays: Tyler Glasnow (4-2, 2.69 ERA)

 

Stakes of the Matchup

After winning the World Series in 2019, the Washington Nationals have gone downhill. In 2020, Washington had a 26-34 record. This season the Nats are in fourth place in the NL East with a 24-32 record. This week they visit the Tampa Bay Rays for an inter-league game at Tropicana Field.

After winning the American League pennant last season, Tampa is off to another hot start. They are in first place in the AL East with a 38-23 record. This is despite playing in a division where four out of five teams have a winning record.

Tampa is built on strong starting pitching and hitting. Currently the Rays are averaging 4.95 runs per game which is the fourth best in the league. They may not have the best hitters, but their analytics team and manager Kevin Cash have found ways to produce the most runs possible out of their hitters.

The Nationals are built a little differently than the Rays. The Nats have a decent lineup that has been decimated by injuries this season. Currently Washington is averaging 3.84 runs per game which is the 6th worst in the league. However, for this week’s inter-league series they have the benefit of adding a designated hitter to their lineup. With their lineup being at full strength and the addition of a designated hitter, my model projects Washington to score 4.55 runs on a typical night.

 

Pitching Matchup

For Tuesday night’s game, the Tampa Bay Rays have a clear edge in the starting pitching matchup. The Rays are relying on Tyler Glasnow who is having another great season. Glasnow has a 4-2 record with a 2.69 ERA, and a 2.85 xFIP. Additionally, he is averaging more than 6 1/3 innings per start and has a strikeout rate of 12.39 strikeouts per nine innings. With Glasnow on the mound, the Rays are obviously heavy favorites for Tuesday’s game.

Opposing Glasnow is Jon Lester who has not done well recently. Over Lester’s 16-year career, Lester has a 193-113 record with a 3.61 ERA. However, since 2019 Jon Lester has fallen off a cliff.

Last year with the Chicago Cubs, Lester had a 3-3 record with a 5.16 ERA, and a 5.11 xFIP. With a WAR of 0.2, Chicago could have replaced Lester last year with a replacement level player and they would have won virtually same number of games.

This season with the Nats, Lester has a 0-2 record with a 4.37 ERA, 4.63 xFIP, and a 0.3 WAR. What is also worrisome for Washington is that Lester is averaging only five innings per start and 6.43 strikeouts per nine innings. The Nationals bullpen is among the worst in the league, and with Lester unlikely to pitch for more than five innings, Tampa should not have any issues piling runs onto the scoreboard.

 

Prediction

Both teams have been appropriately priced for Wednesday’s game. Even though the Rays are a better team, they should be priced as -185 favorites, not at -230. Neither team has a clear edge against the odds, but there is an opportunity with the run total.

Despite the Rays having strong pitching, the run total has been set too low at only 7.5 runs. This is because both teams have strong lineups. The Rays average 4.95 runs per game while the Nats average 3.84 runs per game. Combined both Tampa and Washington average 8.79 runs per game or 1.29 runs per game more than the total. At only 7.5 runs, the over is worth a bet.

MLB Pick: Over 7.5 Runs -105 (BetMGM)

Angels vs. Giants MLB Preview and Odds Analysis

Alex Wood #57 of the San Francisco Giants on May 27, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.   Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

Alex Wood #57 of the San Francisco Giants on May 27, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

Los Angeles Angels vs. San Francisco Giants

 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021 – 9:45 PM ET at Minute Maid Park

 

Probable Pitchers

Angels: Andrew Heaney (2-3, 5.24 ERA)

Giants: Alex Wood (5-2, 2.44 ERA)

 

Stakes of the Matchup

 

In arguably the biggest surprise this season, the San Francisco Giants are in first place in the NL West with a 34-20 record despite being projected to win around 75 games this season. They have built a competitive roster by having several overperforming veteran starting pitchers, and a decent lineup.

 

In an interleague matchup, they host a struggling Los Angeles Angels team. The Angels have a 24-30 record and are without their best player OF Mike Trout due to an injury. Additionally, they might be without Shohei Ohtani in their lineup as he is primarily a DH.

 

Even though about a third of the season has been played, the best way to evaluate if a team has played well is in their run differential. The Angels have a -43 run differential which is the 5th worst in baseball. On average they lose each game by .8 runs. Even though they have a 24-30 record, their Pythagorean expected record is 22-32.

 

Opposing the Houston Astros are the Los Angeles Dodgers who are in second place in the NL West. The Dodgers like the Astros are the best team in their division even though they do not have the best record.

 

The Giants are a different story, because their lineup averages 4.83 runs per game they have a great run differential. Currently, San Francisco has a +69 run differential which is the third best in the league. On average, the Giants win each game by 1.28 runs. That is why it should be no surprise that they are heavy favorites for Tuesday night’s game.

 

Pitching Matchup

 

Both teams are relying on starting pitchers tonight who have been surprises this season. For the Angels they are relying on Andrew Heaney who has been a disappointment, and for the Giants, they are relying on Alex Wood who has been a pleasant surprise.

 

Andrew Heaney is a hard pitcher to analyze this season. Heaney has a 2-3 record with a 5.24 ERA. However, Heaney also has a 3.76 xFIP, and a strikeout rate of 11.08 strikeouts per nine innings. He certainly is giving up many runs but based on more advanced metrics he should be allowing only a modest amount of runs per game.

 

Even though Heaney has been unlucky this season, he should have a tough time against San Francisco’s lineup. Former NL MVP C Buster Posey for example is having a strong season even though it looked like he was at the tail end of his career. Other Giants who are doing better than expected are 3B Evan Longoria, and SS Brandon Crawford.

 

Opposing Heaney is Alex Wood for the Giants. After lackluster 2020 and 2019 seasons, Wood is having the best year of his career. Currently Wood has a 5-2 record with a 2.44 ERA. Even when you look at his “nerd stats” he is having a good season as he has a 0.7 WAR, and a 2.92 xFIP. He should regress over the course of the season, but the Giants deserve to be favored with him on the mound.

 

Prediction

 

San Francisco is appropriately a -150 favorite, and as a result, neither team is worth betting on. However, with such a low run total, there is some value with the over.

 

The Angels lineup is hurt by the absence of Mike Trout and potentially the absence of Shoehi Ohtani. However, they still should score about four runs on a typical night. When you combine this with San Francisco’s lineup at least seven runs should be scored and maybe more. Most books have the total set at seven runs, but there is more value in getting the extra half run at DraftKings at -124.

 

MLB Pick: Over 6.5 Runs (-124) at DraftKings

Dodgers vs. Astros MLB Preview and Odds Analysis

Gavin Lux #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with teammate Chris Taylor #3. Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images/AFP

Gavin Lux #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with teammate Chris Taylor #3. Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images/AFP

 

The Houston Astros are one of the best teams in the league, but you would not know it by looking at their 26-21 record. Currently they are in second place in the AL West, but eventually they should be leading the division.

The Astros have a +59 run differential which is the fourth best in the league. On average Houston wins each game by 1.26 runs. Their lineup averages 5.28 runs per game which is the best in the league.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Houston Astros

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 – 8:10 PM EDT at Minute Maid Park

Probable Pitchers:

Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw (6-3, 3.18 ERA)

Astros: Zach Greinke (4-1, 3.77 ERA)

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Yankees vs. Rays MLB Preview and Odds Analysis

Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees is congratulated by third base coach Phil Nevin #88

Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees is congratulated by third base coach Phil Nevin #88

 

This week’s series between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays is going to be highly consequential. With the Boston Red Sox in first place in the AL East with a 22-14 record, the Yankees and Rays are tied for second place and are only three games behind. That is part of the reason why Tuesday night’s game is nationally televised.

Despite being in second place, the Yankees are -112 favorites to win the AL East on DraftKings. The Rays have the second highest odds of +500. Despite winning the American league last season, and having a 40-20 regular season record, the betting markets do not respect the Devil Rays.

Each team has a different strength. The Rays have strong pitchers, but a weak lineup. The Yankees have a strong lineup, and unreliable starting pitchers outside of Gerrit Cole. The question for this week’s series is if having a better lineup is more important than having a better pitching staff.

New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Tropicana Field

Probable Pitchers:

Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (1-1, 4.41 ERA)

Rays: Luis Patino (1-0, 1.17 ERA)

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Cubs vs. Braves MLB Preview

Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch. Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images/AFP

Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch. Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images/AFP

Based on the standings, the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves seem to be equals. The Cubs have a 10-11 record, and the Braves have a 9-12 record. The major difference between the two teams is that Chicago is viewed as a team that is rebuilding this season, while Atlanta is built to contend this season.

 

Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves

Monday, April 26, 2020 – 7:10 PM EDT at Truist Park

 

Probable Pitchers:

Cubs: Zach Davies (1-2, 8.80 ERA)

Braves: Charlie Morton (1-1, 3.91 ERA)

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