Tampa Bay Rays vs. Houston Astros Pick
The Astros own a big lead in their divisional race while the Rays are hanging tough in the AL wild-card race, heading into the opener of this three-game series Tuesday night in H-Town. Who do we like here for our free MLB pick?
MLB Betting Odds
Tuesday's MLB betting odds opened Houston at around -170 over Tampa Bay, with an over/under of eight runs. Early betting action then boosted the Astros to -190 and dipped the total to 7.5.
Rays vs. Astros Set-Up
Tampa just split four games in Baltimore over the weekend, winning the first two games but losing the last two, including an 8-3 decision Sunday. The Rays then had Monday off.
Just before that Tampa dropped two of three games to Seattle. So the Rays are only 3-4 over their last seven games.
At 76-56 overall Tampa trails the first-place Yankees by 9.5 games in the AL East, but it's also tied with Oakland for the No. 2 spot in the American League wild-card standings.
Houston, meanwhile, just swept three games at home from the Angels over the weekend, winning Sunday 11-2. The Astros then also had Monday off.
Just before that Houston took three of four games from Detroit, so the Astros are 7-1 over their last eight games.
At 85-47 overall Houston leads the AL West by nine games over the second-place A's, and it's only a half-game back of the Yankees in the battle for the best record in the American League.
This series is the second meeting between these teams this season; back in March, the Rays took three of four games from the Astros at Tropicana Field.
Tuesday's Starting Arms
Verlander, by our strict standards, is 20/27 on quality starts this season and seven for his last eight. Last Wednesday he held the Tigers to two runs on two solo homers through a full nine innings, with 11 strikeouts, although Houston lost that game 2-1 as a -500 favorite on the MLB betting line. And over his last eight starts, he's allowed just 14 runs – 13 earned – and 34 hits through 52 innings, with 86 whiffs against only seven walks.
On the season the Astros are 18-9 with Verlander, and while they're 0-3 over his last three starts, that's not his fault.
Over his last three starts against Tampa Bay, two last year and one earlier this season, Verlander allowed seven runs and 18 hits through 18 2/3 innings. Houston lost two of those three games.
Former Astro Morton is 14/27 on quality starts this year, but only one for his last three. Last Wednesday he gave up three runs and four hits through five innings of a 7-6 Rays win over Seattle. And over his last three starts, he's allowed eight runs – seven earned - and 16 hits through 18 innings, although he's also recorded 23 strikeouts over that span.
Tampa is 17-10 with Morton this year, 4-2 over his last six starts.
In his most recent start against the Astros, back in March, Morton allowed two runs and three hits through five frames of a 4-2 Rays victory.
Tuesday's Batting Splits
Tampa is batting .251/.327/.431 against right-handed pitching this season.
Houston is batting .270/.343/.479 against RH pitching this season, which helps this lineup rank among the top three in the Majors in this split.
The Rays bullpen owns a 3.69 ERA this season and a 1.22 WHIP while holding foes to a .702 OPS.
The Astros pen owns a 3.74 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP while holding foes to a .694 OPS.
Numbers like those are why we rank both these units among the top three bullpens in Baseball.
- Unders are 63-60 in Rays games this season.
- Unders are 70-56 in Astros games this season.
- Unders are 34-26 in games played at Minute Maid Park this season.
- Unders are 4-0 in Rays-Astros games this season.
- Unders are a combined 32-20 with Verlander and Morton this season.
- Get more details: Rays at Astros MLB Match-up Stats
Rays at Astros Prediction 08/27/2019
Houston gets the check-mark in the pitching match-up and owns an edge with the sticks, but it's not enough to warrant a price as high as the one posted on this game. Tampa is a scrappy outfit, and this game looks like an excellent candidate to end up 3-2, one way or the other. We see nice baseball betting value here with the Rays at the underdog price.