Phillies vs. Rays MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction: The ML Angle To Bet (May 29)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Ji-Man Choi.
- Tampa and Philadelphia begin a two-game interleague set on Saturday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
- The Rays are in possession of the best record in the American League but are facing Philadelphia's talented Zack Wheeler.
- D.J. James explains why getting the Rays at even money is a gift from the oddsmakers.
Phillies vs. Rays Odds
|1:10 p.m. ET
|Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet.
The Tampa Bay Rays hold the strongest record in the American League, in the toughest division in baseball, with Ryan Yarbrough taking the hill in this matchup.
They take on the fourth-best pitcher in baseball at the moment in Zack Wheeler and his Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies currently are second in the National League East, which is relatively weak with no outstanding teams whatsoever.
Will the Rays continue winning with their second starter, or will Wheeler continue his dominance with some assistance from the Phillies offense?
Phillies Need Wheeler To Go Deep Into Game
Philadelphia is dealing with a litany of injuries at the moment. Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius, Scott Kingery, JoJo Romero and Matt Moore are currently on the Injured List. That rules out two of their stronger hitters against left-handed pitchers this season.
They currently are a league-average squad when it comes to hitting against lefties, and more than likely, even worse without the above names. Unfortunately for the Phillies, Ryan Yarbrough walks next to no one (4.5% walk rate). Philadelphia's 7.8% walk rate as a team will not help them, even if Yarbrough does not throw hard, compared to the rest of the league.
He also limits hard-hit balls. The Phillies rank in the bottom 11 of teams in hard-hit percentage off of lefties, so there are plenty of hurdles to overcome with their short-handed lineup.
Zack Wheeler will go at least six strong for them, but if he somehow cannot, the Phillies' bullpen is weak. They are in the bottom 10 of MLB in combined bullpen ERA at 4.62. Hector Neris is getting unbelievably lucky (1.99 ERA versus 3.81 xFIP), and this is one of their most dependable bullpen arms. In order to be successful in this one, Wheeler will have to pitch a gem in the earlier innings.
Rays Lineup Is Effective Against Righties
The Phillies definitely do have the advantage with starting pitching but Ryan Yarbrough’s matchups are encouraging against a depleted Philadelphia batting order. He also only allows an average exit velocity of 84.2 MPH. This is not an outlier. He has done this his entire career.
Outside of that, the advantage goes to the Rays in almost every other category of the game. They have posted a 113 wRC+ as a team off of righties, so this will help negate some of the effectiveness of Wheeler. Ji-Man Choi’s recent addition to the lineup has helped propel the Rays to only have six losses in May. Trading Willy Adames to the Brewers does not seem to have hurt this offense at all, since he was one of the subpar bats in the lineup. These two moves essentially remove any weaknesses the Rays may have against right-handers this season.
Regarding the bullpen, the Rays still hold a solid group ERA at 3.61. Andrew Kittredge holds a 0.93 ERA. Pete Fairbanks, Diego Castillo and Ryan Thompson are also all very reliable. All of these options should be able to keep a putrid Phillies offense in check.
When looking at the starting pitching matchup, plenty of people will look at Zack Wheeler and think he has a strong shot to propel the Phillies to a victory. It is not that easy, though.
The Rays have an advantage with their complete lineup, versus the Phillies who have a multitude of injuries. Tampa Bay also crushes right-handers, so Wheeler will not hold the advantage he typically does. Finally, the Philadelphia bullpen is extremely weak with a few bullpen arms overachieving so far this season.
Given these advantages, getting even money with the best team in the American League, catching the Phillies at the right time, is a gift. Take the Rays up to -125.
Pick: Rays -100 (Play to -125)