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Rays vs. Cubs, 2:20 ET
We had two plays in baseball yesterday, one was a player prop and one was a total. The total cashed with ease, as the Pirates and Giants combined for just three total runs. The player prop dropped as the Braves somehow has lost two games to the Athletics who now have 12 wins on the season. It was just one of those days where nothing happened, no winning money, no losing money. I’ll take it. But, today, I want to get back to the winning money and grab a unit here. Let’s talk about how we should play the afternoon contest between the Cubs and Rays.
The Rays are still the best team in baseball with 21 more wins than loses this season. However, they look like mere mortals on the road this season. They currently are just 13-12 on the year, and keep in mind, they went 6-3 to start the season on the road. They were of course going to come down to Earth, but this has been a very average month at just 15-12 overall. They’ve lost the first two games against the Cubs and scored just one run. The Cubs are performing about as expected this year. They are hovering around .500, and while they probably don’t have much of a chance to make the playoffs, there has to be some reason for optimism with the performance thus far. Since their 19-19 record a couple of weeks ago, they have gone just 5-11. Their strength has been the pitching staff and they will continue to rely on the arms this season.
Today we get a decent enough pitching matchup between the two teams. The Rays are sending out Zach Eflin to the mound. Eflin has been solid for most of the season overall. He has some interesting splits for the season as he has a 5.29 ERA on the road this season, but he has a 2.43 ERA during day starts. Over the past two road starts, Eflin has turned in virtually identical performances: six innings, seven hits, four runs, one walk, and at least one home run. Cubs hitters (mostly Dansby Swanson) have been decent against Eflin. Justin Steele has been very good for the Cubs this season, but he was not as dominant in May as he was in April. He also had his worst outing of the season in his last start. He allowed five earned runs over 3.2 innings against the Reds. The Cubs have also lost his past three starts. Steele still has eight quality starts in his 11 so far, so his consistency has been there.
I’d be a bit surprised to see the Rays get swept in this series, but I really don’t think it is smart to bet against Steele. Eflin has struggled on the road, but his effectiveness in day starts might make that neutralized. I like the idea of taking the under 8.5, but overall, I’m going to take the Cubs for the game at +115. I think the Cubs have the better pitcher and the Rays offense seems to be in a bit of a slump right now.
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