The slumping Philadelphia Phillies will wrap up their mini two-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday with ace Zack Wheeler on the mound.
Wheeler will look to bounce back from a pair of rough outings and help the Phillies, losers of nine of their last 13 games, come away with a series split before a soft end to their homestand versus the Arizona Diamondbacks. With Wheeler on the bump, Philadelphia is a -135 betting favorite against the AL East-leading Rays, who have won three straight and seven of their last eight.
Here are our free MLB picks and predictions for Rays vs. Phillies on August 25.
Rays vs Phillies game info
• Location: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
• Date: Wednesday, August 25, 2021
• Time: 7:05 p.m. ET
• TV: NBCSP, BSN
Rays vs Phillies odds
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Rays vs Phillies betting preview
Ryan Yarbrough (7-4. 4.57 ERA): The soft-tossing lefty finally figured out the Baltimore Orioles in his last start but got roughed up by them twice post-All-Star Game before that, and also got hammered by the Boston Red Sox to close out July. After going six-plus innings in four of five starts in June, he has done so once in seven outings since.
Zack Wheeler (10-8, 2.77 ERA): Wheeler has been one of the game's best starters this season but is having his worst month of the year. He has allowed four-plus runs in three of his four August starts and got pumped for a season-high six earned runs his last time out against the lowly Diamondbacks. The righty is still piling up the Ks, though, and leads the majors with 194 on the season.
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our MLB weather info.
Rays: Ji-Man Choi 1B (Out), Matt Wisler RP (Out), Pete Fairbanks RP (Out), .
Phillies: Jose Alvarado RP (Out), .
Find our latest MLB injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings. Find more MLB betting trends for Rays vs. Phillies.
The Rays are playing great ball, lead the AL in wins, and have been mashing at the plate since the break. But the Phils are significantly better at home (10 games over .500 compared to nine under on the road) and have a major advantage in the starting pitcher matchup.
While the Rays have the edge when it comes to the bullpens, there's simply no reason to believe that Yarbrough will outpitch Wheeler, so we're expecting that the Rays will be playing this game from behind in the later innings. And Wheeler is a workhorse who leads the majors in innings pitched and punchouts, so he can be trusted to go deep in this game and put out fires with his ability to retire hitters on strikes.
Tampa Bay will be a challenge — it scored five-plus runs in seven straight games before last night's 3-1 win — and Wheeler has experienced some recent hiccups, but he'll take advantage of the Rays' swing-and-miss ways (they have the fifth-highest strikeout rate on the season) and put together a strong outing at home, where he has a stingy 2.25 ERA over 15 starts.
On the other side, Yarbrough will have to navigate a Phillies lineup that has some big lefty mashers, with four regulars sporting an OPS north of .845 versus southpaws, including Andrew McCutchen's team-leading mark of 1.048. That's in addition to slugger Bryce Harper, who has handled lefties well throughout his career. Expect Yarbrough to continue his trend of shorter outings.
We'll gladly take the Phillies at a reasonable -135 price tag behind Wheeler.
PREDICTION: Philadelphia (-135)
While we like Wheeler to be the difference in the outcome, that's not to say he's going to dominate this game. He has the stuff to do just that, but his recent rough patch makes him more susceptible to damage than he was earlier in the season.
Wheeler has a 4.34 ERA in four August starts and a similar mark of 4.28 over his last eight outings. He has allowed four-plus runs in five of those eight starts, which is something he only did twice in 17 appearances before that while putting up a 2.05 ERA over that stretch.
Tampa Bay ranks first in runs scored and slugging since the All-Star break, second in OPS, and tied for second in homers. Randy Arozarena (1.033 OPS) and Brandon Lowe (.968) have been punishing the ball in the second half, while big deadline pickup Nelson Cruz has clubbed seven homers in 25 games with the Rays.
The club hits righties very well, too, ranking third in wRC+ in that split.
The Over has cashed in 12 of Yarbrough's 17 starts and he's been pounded for five-plus runs in three of his last five outings. This isn't a great matchup for him at Philadelphia's hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park against a Phillies team that ranks Top 10 in OPS and wRC+ versus southpaws.
Philadelphia will do a lot of the legwork on offense tonight, but we're confident the Rays can touch up Wheeler just enough to help push this past the 8.0 total.
PREDICTION: Over 8.0 (-111)
Rays vs Phillies betting card
- Philadelphia (-135)
- Over 8.0 (-111)
Picks made on 8/25/2021 at 10:31 a.m. ET
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