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Rays Betting Series: Tuesday, July 2

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Rays-O’s over 8 as the bet of the day

Tampa Bay Rays v Minnesota Twins

Throughout the 2019 season, and with the expansion of legal sports betting in the United States, we will check in on some Rays-centric betting tips for upcoming games and series, and look at bigger trends in the sports betting world, writ large.

I must emphasize that this column is most meant for fun. I am by no means an expert, and if you know anyone who has a gambling problem, please contact Gamblers Anonymous. Never bet more than you can afford, and sports betting isn’t for everyone.

However, for those who are excited to sports bet responsibly, hopefully we’ll give you some good tips and tricks every couple weeks. Here’s the introduction to the series, and here are some key terms to help you along the way.

Now that we’ve gotten our introductions out of the way, this series will start to get a much more reliable format. Let’s get to it:

Wide Lens Trend: Rays struggles against sliders and cutters

This is not a new story. In fact, I wrote about the proliferation of Rays seeing sliders (and struggling against them) from a non-gambling perspective already this season.

By FanGraphs pitch values, the Rays rank 22nd in baseball against sliders and 28th in baseball against cutters this season. Pairing pitchers who are reliant on a certain pitch with teams on the extremes of either end of those FanGraphs pitch value rankings has been a strategy I have employed with success throughout the 2019 season.

If you don’t mind betting against the Rays, looking for pitchers that feature sliders and cutters prominently in their repertoire is an excellent play. Obviously, doing this in a backwards-looking manner brings in both confirmation bias and small sample noise, but just think about how CC Sabathia, a pitcher who throws those two pitches a combined 71.8 (!) percent of the time, has flummoxed the Rays this year (2.12 ERA over 17.0 IP in three starts).

Last 30 Days Standout: Ryan Yarbrough

Since being recalled from Triple-A, Yarbs has been a new man, or at least his real numbers are starting to match his peripherals. Over the past 30 days, he has a 3.86/3.49/4.03 ERA/FIP/xFIP slash line, and he’s walking a miniscule 0.83 batters per nine. Yarbs is never going to blow the opposition out of the water — this is a man who is happy to hit 90 on the radar gun — but if he’s limiting walks in such a manner, and he continues his impressive ability to limit hard contact (only three pitchers with as many balls in play have a lower exit velocity this season, per Baseball Savant), he’s going to do well to avoid those disaster outings he was having early in the season.

His last three outings have come on the road against the Yankees, A’s, and Twins (two of the three best offenses in baseball against lefties this season, per wRC+, and a Yankee team whose 21st ranking is severely distorted by Stanton and Judge being out for so long), and he has allowed one run combined in those outings. Of course, the Rays protected him with only three innings a pop again New York and Minnesota, but Yarbs is starting to get back to being trustworthy again.

Gambling Best Practices: Over/unders mixed with a favorite

One trick to betting over/unders is to not just think about the run total in a vacuum. If you think the home team is likely to win, that’s one less at bat for that team. That lack of a bottom half of the ninth could be essential in determining how you want to play the run total.

Overview of the Week

The Rays start the week by hosting the Baltimore Orioles, who made history (and actually in a positive manner!) over the weekend. They blasted Cleveland by final scores of 13-0 on both Friday and Saturday, becoming the first-ever team to do so in the long history of Major League Baseball. Of course, they followed those blowouts with a 2-0 loss on Sunday that dropped their overall record to 24-59, leaving them on pace to win just 47 games, which would match their record from last season, which was the fifth-most losses in an MLB season in history.

The Rays then get another series with the Yankees, a four-game set at the Trop to bring them into the All-Star break. The Yankees just won both of their London Series games against Boston, but they will be ending an eight-game road trip (that includes the London trip) by the time they conclude their series at the Trop and head into the All-Star Break. I’m not always one for narratives when it comes to betting, but if that doesn’t sound like a team just trying to get to the break by the end of the Tampa Bay series, I don’t know what does.

Bet of the Day: Baltimore @ Tampa Bay Over 8 (-109)

Tuesday’s line took a while to drop because of Baltimore reshuffling their rotation, but now that it is out, there is, in my opinion, quite a juicy line to attack: the over. Tuesday will pit Charlie Morton for the Rays against Asher Wojciechowski for the Orioles.

Look for Woj to bomb (looking at you, NBA fans to get that joke) against the Rays on Tuesday. This is a 30-year-old ex-prospect who has made a total of 11 starts in his MLB career. He hasn’t pitched at the major league level since 2017, and while his surface stats at Triple-A have been good this year (8-2, 3.61 ERA), it doesn’t take much digging to see the truth: a 5.81 FIP and 5.51 xFIP to go along with a healthy walk rate and a lucky left on base rate.

Woj is also brand spanking new to the organization, having been acquired from Cleveland less than 24 hours ago. He doesn’t have a cutter, the pitch the Rays have struggled most against, and while he does have a slider as his number two pitch, he also relies on a changeup, a pitch the Rays have thrived against. It’s not hard to imagine the Rays getting five off of Woj, and that’s even before things get turned over to the Orioles bullpen which ranks second-highest in ERA in 2019 (6.23).

Now, it’s not hard to imagine the Rays scoring seven, but what about the other side of things? Can we really count on the lowly Orioles to score even two runs against All-Star and possible Cy Young candidate Charlie Morton? Well, despite ranking 28th in overall offense this season, the team has done surprisingly well against curveballs this year. Only Atlanta, Los Angeles (AL), Houston, and Minnesota have produced more against the pitch, and it’s one that drives Charlie Morton’s success. Only Adam Wainwright has used his curveball at a higher rate than Morton in 2019, and when you add in the fact that Morton ranks in the bottom 25 in baseball in ERA-FIP (meaning that he is due for some regression), it’s hard not to picture the O’s tacking on a couple. There’s also the fact that the Rays used their top bullpen arms yesterday (albeit all in brief appearances), and getting to 10 runs, let alone eight, seems manageable. The line is at 8.5 most places, but was at 8 on DraftKings at time of writing.

Tracking our Results:

Rays Betting Series Tracker

Date Bet Odds Bet Amount Potential Payout Result Net
Date Bet Odds Bet Amount Potential Payout Result Net
6/7/2019 Rays to win first inning +270 $1.00 $3.70 Loss -$1.00
6/18/2019 Under 10 -112 $1.00 $2.89 Win $0.89
7/2/2019 Over 8 -109 $1.00 $2.76 TBD TBD
Total XX XX $3.00 $9.35 XX -$0.11