Expert MLB best bet, picks and predictions today, 9/26: Rays wreck in Boston
This is going to be a very, very fun last week of baseball. The regular season ends on Sunday, but there are still plenty of teams fighting to earn a spot in October baseball. Will the Orioles or Rays win the AL East? Between the Rangers, Astros and Mariners, which team will miss the playoffs, and which 3 teams will occupy an NL wild-card spot? It’s all up for grabs!
It should be a fun few days on the diamond, so let’s get into my MLB best bet for Tuesday, and be sure to also visit our MLB predictions for today.
Tampa Bay Rays ML (-130) over Boston Red Sox
Available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing.
The regular season ends on Sunday, and one of these teams is heading to the playoffs and the other to Cancun or the golf course. It’s still undecided whether the Rays will get into the playoffs via the AL East division title or the top wild-card spot, but one way or another, Tampa Bay will be playing meaningful baseball next week. The Rays occupied the division lead for most of the season until the Orioles started to get hot at the end of July, and Tampa Bay has been chasing them since. This series presents the opportunity for the Rays to put some more pressure on the Orioles since the Red Sox have thrown in the towel on the season, which was evident in their series loss to the White Sox over the weekend.
On the bump for Tampa Bay is Zach Eflin, who has been the only Rays starting pitcher to make at least 22 starts. He’s been the durable starter the Rays have desperately needed, and on top of that, he’s been an ace. Eflin has a 3.44 ERA paired with a 3.01 xERA after 30 starts and has been even better in the last few months. The right-hander has a 3.71 ERA and is allowing a .218 xBA in the second half of the season, and in just September, Eflin has a 3.68 ERA with a 35% strikeout rate and has held hitters to a .209 xBA.
The Red Sox came into September with their hopes of a postseason berth still alive, but it didn’t last too long. They’ve lost 6 straight series to the Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Blue Jays, Rangers and White Sox. In their most recent series loss, the Red Sox scored just 5 runs in 3 games against the lowly White Sox. If Touki Toussaint, Dylan Cease and Mike Clevinger can shut down the Red Sox lineup, I think Eflin can too. And while the Red Sox have been pretty bad at the plate in September, it’s more important to look at how they’ve been since September 15 since that was their first game without Triston Casas. Their rookie sensation was one of the best players in baseball in the second half of the season, but Boston placed him on the injured list after their series loss to the Yankees, evidently ending his season.
In the 9 games without Casas in the lineup, the Red Sox rank 27th in batting average, 28th in on-base percentage, 29th in OPS and 30th in wRC+. The bottom half of Boston’s lineup is now filled with Triple-A prospects, and it’s starting to show. And on the mound for the Red Sox is Tanner Houck, who owns a 5.08 ERA at Fenway Park this season and can’t pitch effectively for more than 3 innings. This should be another step towards the postseason for the Rays, and it’s a 1.5-unit play from me.
You can also read today’s YRFI/NRFI Best Bets