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Saturday MLB Betting Odds, Picks and Predictions: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Tampa Bay Rays (Sept. 26)

Saturday MLB Betting Odds, Picks and Predictions: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Tampa Bay Rays (Sept. 26) article feature image

Hunter Martin/Getty Images. Pictured: Zack Wheeler.

  • Philadelphia and Tampa Bay face off this evening with playoff implications on the line.
  • The Phillies must win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, while the Rays are still chasing an overall No. 1 seed in the American League.
  • Check out Michael Arinze's betting preview below with odds, predictions and his pick for tonight's MLB game.

Phillies vs. Rays Odds

Phillies Odds -117 [Bet Now]
Rays Odds +100 [Bet Now]
Over/Under 7.5 (-117/-105) [Bet Now]
First Pitch 7:07 p.m. ET

Odds as of Saturday at 5 p.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

The Phillies have all but bungled their chances at October baseball. They simply haven’t taken advantage of their opportunities down the stretch and now find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

Philly still has a glimmer of hope if it can win out, but the Phillies don’t control their own destiny. Philadelphia will need the Padres to defeat the Giants to keep its playoff hopes alive. The Padres and Giants won’t play until 10 p.m. ET tonight, so the Phillies must to win their game against the Tampa Bay Rays first before they’ll know the outcome out west.

Philadelphia will entrust Zack Wheeler to pitch the Phillies to victory in Wheeler’s 11th start of the season. The Rays will counter with John Curtiss out of the bullpen who will serve as their opener.

This is essentially an inter-league matchup. And with each team recording limited at-bats against the opponent pitcher, there’s a chance that both teams can get out of the first inning without surrendering a run.

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Wheeling and Dealing

In three months with the Phillies, Zack Wheeler has already demonstrated his pitching aptitude. Wheeler is 4-1 on the year with a 2.67 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. As a Mets fan, this is even more painful, especially when his numbers show that this has been the best season of his career.

It certainly looks like Wheeler has finally matured into a genuine pitcher rather than merely a thrower. Wheeler’s strikeouts per nine innings have dropped from 8.98 last year to 6.33 this season. And yet in the same timeframe, his FIP dropped from 3.48 to 3.22.

His control has also been better, as evidenced by an improvement in his BB/9 ratio, which has fallen from 2.30 last year to 1.69 this season. He’s also even slashed his HR/9 rate in half from 1.01 in 2019 to 0.42 this year. This is quite a revelation as Wheeler now pitches half his games at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, which is much more of of a hitter’s park than Citi Field in New York. Still, perhaps Wheeler’s biggest improvement has been his GB/FB ratio which jumped from 1.22 last year to 2.72 this season.

Tampa Bay’s current lineup only has 11 at-bats against Wheeler. The lack of familiarity against him is something that could certainly work to his advantage.

Rays Still Have Work to Do

Despite already qualifying for the postseason, Tampa Bay can further improve its position by locking up the overall top seed in the American League. The Rays will look to do just that by using a combination of bullpen arms to get through tonight’s game.

John Curtiss will get the first crack against the Phillies. He’s already made 16 appearances this season and served as an opener in two of those starts. As a reliever, he’s won all three decisions that he’s been involved in and has compiled a 1.85 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP.

Curtiss keeps it simple on the mound as he predominantly throws a four-seam fastball along with a slider. Both pitches are rated as above average in runs allowed per FanGraphs. Curtis’s 9.25 K/9 ratio is also intriguing as the ability to miss bats can also be an added bonus when trying to avoid any first inning runs.

The Phillies lineup has only four at-bats against Curtiss and three of them resulted in a strikeout.

Betting Analysis & Pick

I don’t want anything to do with a side in this matchup. What we’ve seen over the last few days is that teams have been a bit timid particularly in the first inning as the season draws to a close.

This year, at least one run has been scored in the first inning 29% of the time, and this week alone a first inning run was scored 31% of the time. However, over the last two days, a first inning was scored just 23% of the time.

If we look at Wheeler’s 11 starts this year, he’s only allowed a first-inning run on two occasions (18%). We already know John Curtiss can miss bats and he’s already demonstrated this against the few Phillies hitters he’s already faced.

At DraftKings, you can wager that there won’t be any runs scored in the first inning at -125. I’ll risk a half-unit that both pitches make it out of the inning unscathed.

The Bet: First inning under 0.5 runs -125 (Play up to -133). Risking 0.5 units.

[Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

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