Rays vs. Marlins MLB Odds & Picks: Take Miami to Cover in Florida Showdown (Friday, April 2)

Rays vs. Marlins MLB Odds & Picks: Take Miami to Cover in Florida Showdown (Friday, April 2) article feature image

Mark Brown/Getty Images. Pictured: Pablo Lopez.

  • Just because the Rays are perennial contenders doesn't mean they can't be beaten by their in-state rivals.
  • The upstart Marlins might not repeat their playoff appearance from last season, but there's reason to believe they have betting value as an underdog on Friday night.
  • Kevin Davis breaks down why he likes Miami as a short underdog against Tampa Bay.

Rays vs. Marlins Odds

Rays Odds-121
Marlins Odds+110
TimeFriday, 7:10 p.m. ET
TVMLB Network
Odds as of Thursday and via William Hill

With Opening Day in the books, we have only seven games on the second night of the season. One of those games is a matchup between MLB's Florida teams: the Tampa Bay Rays and the Miami Marlins.

In recent history, the Rays have been much better as a consistent playoff contender, while the Marlins have been the National League East's cellar dweller. The only two things both teams have in common is that they play in the same state and both have consistently low attendance.

Even with the low attendance, my model gives the Marlins a 50.4% chance of winning partially based on home-field advantage with fans in the stands for Friday’s game. The Rays may have an edge in pitching, but their lineup is at a disadvantage without the designated hitter.

Let's dig more into why I like the Marlins to win outright as underdogs.

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Tampa Bay Rays

If the Rays win, chances are it will be a low-scoring game during which their pitching staff carries them.

The starting pitcher for the Rays on Friday night is Ryan Yarbrough. Over the last three years, the southpaw has been an unsung hero for Tampa Bay as a short starter/long reliever. While Yarbrough had a 3.56 ERA, he also had an xFIP of 4.33, which suggested he was a bit fortunate last season.

Even though Yarbrough is a reliable arm, I do not think he is good enough to merit making the Rays favorites, especially when you consider that he is only likely to pitch four or five innings. The Tampa Bay bullpen has already been decimated by injuries, and my model projects them to be average as it currently is constructed.

According to ActionLabs, American League teams visiting NL ballparks went 291-190 against the run-line from 2018-19 for a return of investment of +8.8%.

Even though AL teams may be undervalued in games without a DH, Tampa’s lineup is vulnerable due to the injury to first baseman Ji-Man Choi. According to my model, Choi’s absence will cause the Rays to score .11 fewer runs against the Marlins. Additionally, the Rays' lineup has only three above-average offensive players.

Miami Marlins

Last year, the Marlins got lucky and made the playoffs due to the weird nature of the shortened 2020 season. This year, I expect Miami to regress to the mean and be a sub-.500 team that wins occasionally. In my opinion, the Marlins are a 75-win team, which means that occasionally they will beat winning teams like the Rays. That is why I like them on Friday night.

Miami's lineup quietly has strong hitters like Starling Marte, Jesús Aguilar and Brian Anderson. Most people cannot name more than three players on the Marlins, but that does not mean that they don’t have a competitive roster. On a typical night, according to my model, I expect the Marlins to score 4.49 runs.

Whether the Marlins win this game will be determined by how long starting pitcher Pablo López lasts against the Rays.

Last season, López had a 6-4 record with a 3.61 ERA and 3.73 xFIP. If he can last somewhere around six innings, that should be good enough to beat the Rays. The issue is López averaged only 5.21 innings per start last season. Even if López cannot go the distance, I believe that Tampa’s lineup will struggle against Miami’s bullpen.

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Rays-Marlins Pick

Currently, my favorite bet is on the Marlins to win outright as +110 money line underdogs. Miami has home-field advantage and the Rays are overvalued based on last season’s performance.

The Marlins quietly have a strong starting pitcher on the mound in López, and bettors should be wary of fading them on Friday night. Additionally, the Rays' bullpen and lineup are shorthanded, and that is why I would not be surprised if the Marlins win.

Pick: Marlins +110 (down to +100)

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