Rays Win Game 1 In AL Wild Card Series Vs. Guardians Friday

As mentioned earlier this week, the 6-seed Tampa Bay Rays are going to steal Game 1 of their American League Wild Card Series with the 3-seed Cleveland Guardians Friday.

Since pitching matters more in postseason baseball, Rays LHP Shane McClanahan (12-8, 2.54 ERA) has the edge over Guardians RHP Shane Bieber (13-8, 2.88 ERA) and the sportsbooks know it.

Betting Details (DraftKings)

BET: Rays (+100), up to -110

Rays starting LHP Shane McClanahan (Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

The first thing that jumps out when handicapping Rays-Guardians is the reverse line movement (RLM) headed in Tampa’s direction. Per VSIN, roughly 60% of the money at the time of writing is on Cleveland’s moneyline (ML).

However, the Guardians ML opened at around -127 on the consensus market and has been lowered despite the lopsided Cleveland action. This RLM suggests the oddsmakers are baiting the public into staking more into the Guardians.

What’s obvious is the public still underrates Tampa which has participated in the last three postseasons. Maybe it’s the small market or the injuries or the wild-card berth but, for whatever reason, the Rays don’t get the respect they deserve.

I love the idea of fading the market with a pitcher like McClanahan whose advanced and basic pitching numbers are greater. According to Statcast, McClanahan has a better exit velocity, hard-hit rate, expected slash line (xBA-xwOBA-xSLG), K%, whiff rate and chase rate than Bieber’s.

Also, Cleveland’s lineup is terrible vs. left-handed pitching. The Guardians are 27th in both wRC+ and wOBA, 28th in hard-hit rate and last in ISO vs. left-handed pitching, per FanGraphs.

Finally, this is a more profitable spot for McClanahan. Cleveland is 2-4 with a -37.0% return on investment (ROI) as short favorites (-120 or lower) and Bieber on the bump. Tampa is 3-2 as short ‘dogs (+120 or lower) with a +26.2% ROI and McClanahan as the starter.

Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and BET the TAMPA BAY RAYS (+100) to win Game 1.

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Friday, Oct. 1:45 a.m. ET.


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Written by Geoff Clark


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