Rays vs. Angels MLB Odds & Picks: Why Tampa Bay Has Value as an Underdog (Thursday, May 6)
Kathryn Riley/Getty Images. Pictured: Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Collin McHugh.
- It's been a fairly lopsided series so far, with Tampa Bay winning the first three games in convincing fashion.
- Things may be a little awkward in the Angels' clubhouse after the news of Albert Pujols being designated for assignment.
- Mike Ianniello is confident in the Rays to pull off the series sweep.
Rays vs. Angels Odds
|Time||9:38 p.m. ET|
The Tampa Bay Rays look to complete the four-game sweep over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday. Tampa Bay has taken the first three games in the series by a combined score of 18-7.
Tampa Bay (17-15) sits in third place in the AL East, just 1.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox, while Los Angeles (13-16) finds itself in last place in the AL West and in the midst of a four-game slide. The Angels’ minus-27 scoring differential is the third worst in baseball. So, why are the Angels favored?
Tampa Bay Rays
With Michael Wacha headed to the injured list with a hamstring issue, the Rays will call on veteran Collin McHugh to get the start. McHugh has been out with a strained back and has not pitched since April 17. This will be the right-hander’s fourth appearance of the season and first start.
McHugh has struggled at the start of his Tampa Bay career, allowing six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings of relief work. He missed the entire 2020 season after an elbow injury. He’s still looking to regain his form from his brilliant 2018 season with Houston, when he finished with a 1.99 ERA and 11.70 K/9 rate.
The Tampa Bay offense has been middle of the pack offensively, ranking 16th in runs per game; 25th in batting average; 21st in wOBA; and, 10th in wRC+.
The team’s expected stars — Brandon Lowe and Randy Arozarena — have struggled out of the gate. Lowe is batting just .193 on the season and Arozarena is hitting .264 with three home runs.
Los Angeles Angels
After falling last time out despite great start from Shohei Ohtani, the Angels will turn to Andrew Heaney to prevent the sweep. The left-hander, who has a 5.25 ERA in five starts this season, had three solid outings in a row until his most recent game.
Heaney currently has a 12.75 K/9 rate, thanks to his curveball that has been terrific this year with a 43.8 Whiff% and just a .143 batting average against. His fastball and changeup have been less effective, though.
What can be said about the Angels’ lineup that hasn’t already been said? Mike Trout is the best player on the planet, plus he’s somehow still getting better. He leads the league with a .398 batting average, a .514 on-base percentage, a .524 wOBA , a 1.275 OPS, and 251 wRC+.
Behind Trout, Los Angeles has also gotten a solid season from Jared Walsh, who is batting .333 and leads the team with 22 RBIs. Ohtani has been great at the plate as well, batting .264 with nine home runs, but he has not always started the day after he pitches and it’s possible he gets the day off.
Tampa Bay has won three consecutive games against Los Angeles in fairly convincing fashion, but it continues to be a sizable underdog. The Rays have won the previous two games at plus money, so I’m electing to back them as again in this spot.
While I don’t necessarily trust McHugh and the fact Tampa Bay will likely fall behind in the first half of the game, Los Angeles had the starting-pitching advantage in the latest game as well.
I don’t expect McHugh to go very long anyway, and once you get to the bullpens, the Angels rank 23rd in the league with a 4.55 bullpen ERA.
More concerning is the fact Los Angeles is one of the worst defensive teams in baseball. The Angels have the worst fielding percentage in the league, ranking 29th in Defensive Runs Saved. They lead the league with 29 errors.
I think this game is essentially a coin flip, so after seeing the Rays come away victories as the underdogs in the two previous games, I am happy to back them again in a similar situation.
Pick: Tampa Bay ML +120 (play down to +105)