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Rays vs. Nationals, 7:05 ET
The Rays really couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. See in college there are a lot of football teams or basketball teams that start the season against crummy opponents. That allows them to work the kinks out a bit and get into a good spot. That isn’t really how the schedule is considered here, but either way it works out for them. On the other side, the Nationals have to start against two World Series hopefuls.
The Rays started their campaign with a three-game set against the Tigers and we did grab a game in there with them beating the Tigers 4-0 in Shane McClanahan’s opener. If we know one thing about the Rays it is that their strength will be built on the pitching staff. Over their first 27 innings, they’ve allowed a total of three earned runs. They have another good starter going today with Drew Rasmussen. He was solid last season with a 2.84 ERA over 146 innings and 28 starts. You should expect Rasmussen to allow a run or two over five innings normally, but the Nationals are such a bad-hitting team, that I think we can consider that he won’t allow a single run. Most Washington hitters haven’t seen Rasmussen, and the few that have are only 2-for-7 in the career against him. Last season he was worse on the road but he wasn’t terrible by any means.
The Nationals are really going to struggle this season. They were able to take a game off of the Braves in the series finale and held a good offense to just one run. However, they allowed seven runs in both of the first two games and dropped both of those. Tampa is not a team that you’d typically consider as an offensive juggernaut, but they can be dangerous. Washington is sending Trevor Williams to the mound. He was used as a reliever and starter last season with the Mets. The Rays hitters have only seven at-bats against him as well and only one hit in that stretch. Williams is actually a pretty decent starter and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but I don’t think he is quite on the same scale that Rasmussen is. As far as offense goes, the Nationals are going to struggle most games. If they aren’t last in runs scored at the end of the season, I’d be a bit surprised.
I don’t think there is any way to play this game other than the Rays through five innings at the -0.5 at -120. I generally save run lines for plus money opportunities, but I think the disparity here gives us some good value and this should be closer to a -145 line. Sure, anything can happen, but that’s baseball. Back the Rays through five to have a lead.
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