Date/Time: September 18, 7:10 p.m. EST
Starting Pitchers: Texas (Holland) vs. Tampa Bay (Archer)
MLB Gambling Odds from Diamond Sports
Moneyline: Rays (-135) Rangers (+125)
The Texas Rangers have been in a terrible slump of late. The Tampa Bay Rays haven’t been much better. Going into their series this week, these two teams were tied in the AL Wildcard spots. There is a log jam of teams right behind them, so there really isn’t any margin for error. Which team will get on track with a win on Wednesday night?
The Texas Rangers have been one of the streakiest teams in baseball this year. Texas has had some amazing hot streaks as well as some terrible slumps. After last night’s win, the Rangers are now 4-13 in their last 17 games overall. They are 8-22 in their last 30 games against a team with a winning record. What has gone wrong for this team of late? It has primarily been the offense. The pitching staff has still been very good, and the bullpen is one of the best in the majors. Derek Holland starts in this game, and he has struggled of late. Holland was good almost all year, but he has allowed six earned runs in each of his last two starts.
The Texas offense seemed to hold up just fine at first after Nelson Cruz was suspended, but they haven’t been good of late. Consistency has been a major problem for the offense. Adrian Beltre has been the best hitter for the team. Guys like Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar aren’t contributing as much as expected. If this team is going anywhere the rest of the season, the offense has to start putting up more runs on a nightly basis.
Tampa Bay has had more of a long gradual slide. The Rangers have been falling apart all at once, but Tampa Bay has been playing subpar baseball for about a month. The Rays have to be glad to be back at home, where they have been very good over the past couple years. Tampa Bay is 23-11 in their last 34 home games overall. They are only 2-5 in their last 7 games against a left-handed starter. Chris Archer will start for the Rays in this one, and Archer has been great for the team in his rookie season. He is 9-7 with a 3.03 ERA.
Tampa Bay’s defense has been great this year. The Rays have the fourth fewest errors in the league, and that has helped them win a lot of close games. The bullpen has been down this year, which is definitely a concern as they push toward the playoffs. Fernando Rodney has blown eight saves already this year. Offensively, the contribution of James Loney has meant a lot to this team. Loney leads the team with a .303 average this season. Evan Longoria leads the team with 29 home runs.
Free Pick: Under 7.5
The Rangers are a surprisingly big underdog here, but Holland’s recent form keeps me away from backing Texas. Instead, I have a slight lean to the under in a game that means a ton to both teams.