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Wednesday Rays vs. Astros Odds, Picks & Predictions: Expect the Astros to Bounce Back (October 14th)

Wednesday Rays vs. Astros Odds, Picks & Predictions: Expect the Astros to Bounce Back (October 14th) article feature image

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros.

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Rays Odds -136 [BET NOW]
Astros Odds +115 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 8.5 [BET NOW]
First Pitch 8:40 p.m. ET

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The Rays’ arms have held Houston to just five runs through the first two games, which has put the Astros’ backs against the wall, down 3-0. They’ll turn to the best pitcher on their roster, Zack Greinke, with lefty Tyler Glasnow set to start Game 3 for Kevin Cash’s Tampa Bay club.

It’s now or never for the Astros if they want to make this a series.

Advanced Stats Glossary

FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP  is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.

wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.

wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.

BaseRuns is a formula designed to estimate how many runs a team would be expected to score (or allow) given their underlying offensive (or defensive) performance. In other words, BaseRuns is a context-neutral run estimator used to evaluate teams. Major League average for an individual batter per game is 0.50 BaseRuns and a for a pitcher its 0.52 BaseRuns per inning.

Offensive Matchup

Houston Astros

Houston has struggled offensively coming into the postseason, accumulating a .311 wOBA and 100 wRC+. The Astros’ offense exploded during the series against the A’s, scoring 33 runs and hitting for a .345 average. They haven’t really struggled hitting the ball in this series, but they’ve left way too many men on base. Houston has outhit the Rays, 19-10, but has left 38 men on base through the first two games.

The ‘Stros have also been below average against right-handed pitching, ranking 19th in MLB in wOBA. Now they face one of the best young righties in MLB, so they will need to pick up their level of play offensively.

Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay has done enough offensive through the first three games of the series. During the regular season, the Rays were 10th in the MLB with a .325 wOBA and a 109 wRC+, so they are a difficult lineup to get through.

The Rays are an interesting team, due to the fact they rank 24th against fastballs but tend to crush off-speed pitches. Greinke is mainly a fastball pitcher, so Tampa could be set up for a difficult matchup.

Starting Pitching Matchup

Tyler Glasnow vs. Zack Greinke

2020 Stats (via Fangraphs)

Tyler Glasnow, RHP

Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Tyler Glasnow posted the third-best xFIP (2.46) among all qualified pitchers in 2020. His effectiveness is dependent on his fastball, which averages nearly 97 MPH and can top out over 100 MPH, but it’s not just about power with Glasnow. He also has elite control of his heater, which he throws over 60% of the time.

Glasnow’s fastball is backed up by an elite curveball, which allowed a meager .120 batting average and produced a 52.8% whiff rate.

Glasnow is certainly an elite pitcher, but the Astros have been drilling fastballs this postseason, so he’ll have to be on his game.

Zack Greinke, RHP

Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Greinke started out 2020 on fire, but struggled over the second half of the season. In his last seven starts, he’s allowed at least three earned runs in each start and accumulated a 5.73 ERA. Greinke’s fastball hasn’t been great this, allowing a .377 wOBA, which is a problem, since he’s throwing 45.3% of the time.

Greinke’s control has been solid this season as his BB/9 and HR/9 rate are the lowest they’ve been in five years. However, his location hasn’t been great as his sinker is the only pitch that is allowing a wOBA under .300.

The Rays offense isn’t elite by any means, but Greinke will have to be on point with his control in Game 4 or the Astros are going home.

Bullpen Matchup

After starting the season as one of the worst in baseball, the Astros’ bullpen has steadily improved over the second half of the season. However, the relief corps finished with the 14th best xFIP in baseball (4.43) and hasn’t provided Houston with an advantage in this series.

Tampa Bay has one of the best bullpens in baseball, collectively ranking second in ERA (3.37) and sixth in xFIP (4.16). The Rays’ bullpen has been stellar in this series, allowing only two runs in 12 innings.

Projections and Pick

Tyler Glasnow is obviously one of the best pitchers in MLB, but I think he’s a tad overvalued in this spot. Since I have the Astros projected at +114, I think there is some value in backing Houston at +120 to keep this series alive, but I wouldn’t go any higher than that. Be sure to check our MLB Live Odds page for the best line across the market.

Pick: Astros +120

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