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Astros vs. Rays Odds, Picks, Predictions: MLB Betting Preview for Tuesday, Sept. 20

Astros vs. Rays Odds, Picks, Predictions: MLB Betting Preview for Tuesday, Sept. 20 article feature image
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Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Cristian Javier.

  • The Rays are small home favorites in tonight's matchup against the Astros.
  • Shane McClanahan takes the mound for Tampa, while Houston will counter with Cristian Javier.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.

Astros vs. Rays Odds

Astros Odds +130
Rays Odds -154
Over/Under 6.5 (-115/-105)
Time 6:40 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

The Houston Astros traveled to face the Tampa Bay Rays starting on Monday, in what could be a potential American League Championship Series matchup in a month. Meanwhile, Cristian Javier vs. Shane McClanahan is one of the best matchups of the season between probable playoff teams and young aces.

Javier has been stellar. He has a 2.87 ERA and 2.55 xERA on the season with a 2.36 ERA in the second half. McClanahan has a 2.13 ERA and 2.51 xERA with a 3.24 ERA in the second half, so Javier has been better as of late, but overall, these are two of the best pitchers in the MLB.

Javier sometime struggles with control and hard contact, while McClanahan has virtually zero flaws. That said, Javier has been able to get his control under wraps after the All-Star Break, so this matchup is virtually a wash.

With absolutely great bullpens, this matchup will come down to which team can finagle their way into a few runs. The Astros are a better hitting team against southpaws than the Rays are with righties, so this is the edge for the game. Taking the Astros on the moneyline is the right call.

Houston Astros

Javier is only 25, as is McClanahan. He will be around for some time. His xBA is a phenomal .173, ranking in the 98th percentile in the MLB. In fact, this is even better than McClanahan. Javier also strikes out hitters at a 32.8% clip. His walk rate does float around 8%, but in the second half, he has a 0.92 WHIP with 61 strikeouts and 16 walks. The only way teams are usually getting on base is by working the count.

Now, shockingly, the Rays only have a 7.5% walk rate against righties in the last month. They do boast a team wRC+ of 114, which ranks 7th in the MLB. Roman Quinn and Brandon Lowe are on the Injured List, so this dings the offense a bit. Otherwise, they have five bats with a .330+ xwOBA over the last month. The rest slightly falls off, but with Javier on the bump, it will be tough to string together multiple consecutive baserunners even with a strong top-of-the-order.

In addition, the Astros have a bullpen xFIP of 2.55 in that same timeframe. They are the only bullpen with a sub-3.00 xFIP. Every bullpen arm is below 4.00, so this explains why. Every arm they use will be solid and basically lockdown after Javier, who throws around five or six innings each start.

Tampa Bay Rays

McClanahan also boasts a 32.3% strikeout percentage, but paired with only a 5.4% walk rate. This is exceptional for another 25 year old. The rest of his peripherals are more than encouraging. He has a better Chase Rate than Javier, too.

This all comes down to the Houston lineup. Only Jason Castro and Michael Brantley are on the IL for Houston. Yordan Álvarez has a .517 xwOBA off of lefties in the last month. Aledmys Díaz has a .417 xwOBA. They have three others above .340, so this lineup is definitely stronger overall than the Rays off of lefties. Although it is the same amount of seemingly productive hitters, the top of the order is stronger.

Tampa does have a nice bullpen, though. They have a team xFIP of 3.35 in the last month, ranking third in baseball. Several relievers are below a 4.00 xFIP, so they have the production needed on the back of McClanahan. He will go deep into the game, like Javier, so the bullpen may be a wash between these two teams.

Astros-Rays Pick

The only discrepancy between these two teams is how hot a few hitters in the Astros lineup have been off of lefties lately. Javier and McClanahan are comparable and so are the two bullpens. With the hotter bats for Houston, take the Astros on the moneyline at +110, and play this to -115. They should be small favorite over Tampa.

Pick: Houston Astros +110 | play to -115

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