The Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers open a two-game series in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The Dodgers have locked up a playoff spot and have a four-game lead on Atlanta for home-field advantage in the NL playoffs. They currently sit one game back the Yankees and Astros for the best record in baseball.
Things aren’t nearly as simple for Tampa Bay. The Rays sit 1.5 games ahead of Cleveland for the second Wild Card spot and one game behind Oakland for the top spot. They have a daunting last 11 games of the season: These two against LA, followed by four against the Red Sox, two against the Yankees, and they finish the season with three in Toronto.
The Dodgers are slight favorites at -120 and the over/under is 8.5.
Rays Pushing for Wild Card Spot
Tampa Bay has by far the hardest of the remaining schedule between themselves, Oakland and Cleveland. They are currently 89-62 and 46-30 away from home.
Former Cy Young winner Blake Snell (6-7, 4.28 ERA) will start for the Rays on Tuesday, making his return from arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow July 25. Snell is only expected to go three innings. The lefty has never faced the Dodgers in his career.
Rays hitters have combined for only 19 plate appearances against Dodgers starter Ross Stripling. They have a team OPS of .526. Over the last week, Tampa Bay has five guys that have OPSs over 1.000 in Ji-Man Choi (1.433), Guillermo Heredia (1.235), Austin Meadows (1.079), Jesus Aguilar (1.050) and Willy Adames (1.044).
The Rays have Brandon Lowe and Snell on the IL, but Snell will be activated today.
Dodgers Looking For Home-Field
The Dodgers have wrapped up their seventh-straight NL West crown, but they are still looking to wrap up home-field throughout the National League playoffs and make a run at the Yankees and Astros for the best record in baseball. Los Angeles is 97-54 and 56-20 at home.
The Dodgers will send Stripling (4-4, 3.40) to face Snell. Stripling, who has not given up a run in four career relief innings against the Rays, is coming off a start at Baltimore on Wednesday when he gave up one run over three innings. The right-hander is auditioning for a spot on the postseason roster. He is more than likely to come out of the bullpen in the divisional series but could be a starter if the Dodgers make the NLCS.
Dodgers hitters don’t have much experience against Snell. Only Jedd Gyorko, David Freese and Russell Martin have ever faced the lefty. They have combined for one hit in 10 at-bats. Gavin Lux has been the hottest Dodgers hitter over the last week with an OPS of 1.200. He is 8 for 20 with two doubles and two home runs.
LA has Alex Verdugo on the IL, and Justin Turner, Kristopher Negron and Rich Hill are listed as day-to-day.
I think books are giving too much credit to Snell returning. He is only going to pitch, at most, three innings. While the Rays are playing for their playoff lives, the Dodgers really want home-field throughout the playoffs. I see the Dodgers taking this game, and -120 is really good value.
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