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MLB Picks Today: Rays vs. Guardians Betting Preview (Tuesday, September 27)

MLB Picks Today: Rays vs. Guardians Betting Preview (Tuesday, September 27) article feature image
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Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Shane Bieber #57 of the Cleveland Guardians.

  • The Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Guardians face off in a battle of two teams with their eyes toward the playoffs.
  • The Rays will have Corey Kluber on the mound while the Guardians will start Shane Beiber.
  • Doug Ziefel details why he's betting the over/under in the matchup.

Rays vs. Guardians Odds

Rays Odds +125
Guardians Odds -145
Over/Under 6.5 (-120/+105)
Time 6:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

We may have a playoff preview on our hands as the Tampa Bay Rays, who currently hold the second wild card spot in the American League, take on the AL Central champions, the Cleveland Guardians. These clubs have sustained success in different ways, but each has a solid young core of talent that will make each of them fun to watch in October.

However, we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves as there is still business to be taken care of this evening. Corey Kluber will be returning to Cleveland, and he is looking to repeat the success from his last outing, where he threw seven solid innings against the Houston Astros.

Opposing him will be the Guardians ace, Shane Bieber, who has been lights out over the last two months and aims to finish September on a high note. The odds are in his favor to do so as he is catching his opposition at the right time.

So how do we play this pitcher’s duel between Cleveland aces of past and present? Let’s dive in to find out.

Rays Offense Will Likely Struggle

The Rays have been scuffling offensively of late. They enter this series losers of six of their last 10 after splitting a four-game series with Toronto this past weekend.

Over the previous seven games, the Rays are hitting just .237 as a team and have a .297 wOBA. Those numbers are good for 18th and 20th in the majors, respectively. Their strikeout rate has also jumped a bit during this recent stretch as well as it’s the seventh highest in baseball.

Numbers like those should make Shane Bieber’s eyes light up. He has been spectacular over his last 10 starts. Over that time, he has a 1.79 ERA with a 0.84 WHIP and has struck out 71 batters.

Looking at Bieber’s metrics, they are pretty contradicting. His xERA is 3.51, but his FIP is 2.87. The reason for his xERA being significantly higher is that he ranks in the bottom 15 percent in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate. However, he has counterbalanced by having a barrel rate much better than that, and his whiff rate is amongst the top 20 percent in baseball.

Given how the Rays are trending, Bieber will be a difficult matchup as they have been swinging and missing quite often. They also lack the power to make him pay for his mistakes, as they’re 24th in ISO over the last week. Expect another quality outing from Bieber.


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Can Kluber Come Through for the Guardians?

Now we turn our attention to the former ace in Cleveland, Corey Kluber. Overall, the numbers are not great, but not bad for the 36-year-old right-hander. He has shown plenty of flashes of his old self, including two this month as he shut down the Yankees and Astros. While his ERA for the month may be nearing five, a closer look reveals he’s in for some sizable positive regression.

At this point in his career, the low to mid-90s sinker is no longer there as it is sitting around 89 mph these days. However, the crafty Kluber can still generate outs. Everything he throws has movement to it, and it starts with his cutter and sinker.

Those two pitches make up 64 percent of his attack and have helped generate a ton of soft contact this season. As a result, Kluber enters this start ranking in the top 30 percent of the majors in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate.

In addition to that, his chase rate is amongst the top four percent in all of baseball. The movement on his pitches allows him to expand the edges and forces batters to swing at pitches that are not strikes.

Kluber has been able to execute for the most part as his walk rate is microscopic, and the Guardians also have the fourth-lowest walk rate in the majors, so they will be swinging at the large majority of pitches, whether they are strikes or not.

His FIP of 3.59 and xERA of 4.02 tell the real story of how successful he can be, and we should see it on full display in this outing.

Rays-Guardians Pick

On top of these starters being in great spots tonight, they’ll also have top-tier talent behind them. The Guardians have the fifth-lowest bullpen ERA in the majors, and the Rays are not far behind as they rank seventh.

So even if one of them does falter, the fire should be extinguished without too much damage on the scoreboard. For all these reasons, I am banking on this one going under the total. I really liked this at under 7, but I’d make a small play at under 6.5 as well.

Pick: Under 6.5 (+105)

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