The Tampa Bay Rays will try to get some momentum going with the postseason approaching when they take on the red-hot Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field.
Despite dropping five of its last seven overall, Tampa has a better than 99% chance of making the playoffs as a Wild Card team. Cleveland clinched the AL Central over the weekend, and has won 16 of its last 18 contests.
Rays vs Guardians best odds
Rays vs Guardians picks and predictions
The Guardians have been scoring at a feverish rate during their 16-2 run — averaging 5.61 runs per game in that span. Narrow the focus to their current seven-game win streak, and their runs per game figure skyrockets to 7.57.
It’s always a group effort when the runs are pouring in like this — but leadoff man extraordinaire Steven Kwan has been no minor contributor to this success — and he’s being dangled at a great price to get to at least two total bases in this contest.
Kwan hit a grand slam to put the icing on the cake in Sunday’s 10-4 triumph over the Texas Rangers. It was his second dinger in a five-game span but only his sixth of the year, so we won’t be backing him to hit a long ball toight.
Since Sept. 17 — a stretch of nine games — Kwan has crossed the 1.5 total base plateau seven times. He’s gathered multiple hits in six of those nine tilts — five of which went for extra bases — proving that you don’t need to be a prototypical power hitter to clear this line with ease. The speedy Florida native is tied for second in the majors in triples with seven, two off the MLB lead enjoyed by teammate Amed Rosario.
Kwan has gone 5-for-15 off Rays' pitching in his rookie season, including a 1-for-3 mark (the one hit being a double) against Corey Kluber. He’s the most likely batter in the Guardians lineup to face Kluber a third time on Tuesday, which bodes well for him, as Kluber’s opponent batting average in that situation this season is .317.
My best bet: Steven Kwan Over 1.5 total bases (+130)
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Rays vs Guardians moneyline analysis
The negative trends are piling up for the Rays in addition to the injuries, while the Guardians have had one of their best Septembers in recent memory. Even though Cleveland doesn’t have much to play for in the final week of the year (essentially locked into the No. 3 seed barring some improbable win-out/lose-out scenario with the Yankees for the No. 2 seed), it seems to be the better bet on the moneyline.
Tampa has lost eight in a row against starters with a WHIP below 1.15. It's also 4-10 in its last 14 games against teams with winning records. Meanwhile, the Guardians have won four of their last five home games, and are 13-3 in their last 16 games against right-handed starters.
Cleveland looks to have a strong pitching staff advantage, sending Shane Bieber to the hill against Corey Kluber. Bieber has a 1.95 ERA in September, while Kluber’s is 4.87. The Guardians’ bullpen has been better than the Rays’ over the last two weeks, authoring a 2.31 ERA (fourth in the majors in that span), compared to a 4.06 ERA (15th) for Tampa.
Bettors should never blindly place their trust (and their money) with the “more desperate team,” and there appears to be value baked into the Cleveland moneyline due to the playoff implications of this game, even after action on the favorite has moved the line by a dime or two.
Rays vs Guardians Over/Under analysis
The Under looks like the right side at first glance, but the potential for explosiveness with both offenses suggests the Over is the better play on such a low line.
The Rays and Blue Jays combined for 43 runs over four games last weekend, with Tampa plating 22 of those. Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena are a combined 19-for-42 (.452) over the last week with 12 RBI.
In addition to Kwan, the Guardians also have Andres Gimenez tearing the cover off the ball. He has multiple hits in four of his last six games, and leads his club in OPS (.867) this month.
It’s difficult to imagine Bieber or the Cleveland bullpen allowing much, but it’s quite possible Kluber fires another dud on Tuesday night as he did against the New York Yankees on Sept. 10. He was sent to the showers after recording a mere two outs that evening, surrendering six earned runs on eight hits. Kluber has a 5.05 ERA on the road in 2022 (67 2-3 innings).
Rays vs Guardians trend to know
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Rays vs Guardians game info
|Location:||Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH|
|Date:||Tuesday, September 27, 2022|
|First pitch:||6:10 p.m. ET|
|TV:||Bally Sports Sun, Bally Sports Great Lakes|
Corey Kluber (10-9, 4.30 ERA): Consistency has been difficult to come by for Corey Kluber in September, as he’s bookended two dreadful starts this month (10 earned runs over 6 1-3 combined innings against the Yankees and Rangers, respectively) with two seven-inning gems. His latest masterpiece came against the hot-hitting Houston Astros, as he limited their lineup to one earned run last Wednesday.
Shane Bieber (12-8, 2.81 ERA): Shane Bieber has been pitching like the former AL Cy Young winner he is this month, winning four straight starts while striking out 36 batters and walking only three. His WHIP is a scant 0.78 through 37 innings in September.
Rays vs Guardians latest injuries
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