Rays vs. Cubs Odds & Picks: Early Betting Value on Tampa Bay (April 18)
Mike Carlson/Getty Images. Pictured: Shane McClanahan
- The Rays are favored in their trip to Wrigley Field for Monday evening's series opener against the Cubs.
- Shane McClanahan has been dominant so far this season, while Chicago's Kyle Hendricks has had an uneven start to the season.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.
Rays vs. Cubs Odds
|Over/Under||8 (-118 / -104)|
|Time||7:40 p.m. ET|
The Tampa Bay Rays were able to close the week with a 9-3 win against the White Sox, but overall have dropped four of their last five games. The team with the best record in the American League last season is already dealing with a decimated pitching rotation.
The Chicago Cubs tore down their World Series-winning core at the trade deadline last season and are in the early stages of a kind-of-rebuild. They have started the year 5-4 and look pretty competitive early.
Also coming off a win Sunday, the Cubs return home from a trip to Colorado to begin a three game series with the Rays. These two teams have not met since 2017.
Rays’ McClanahan Taking Top Pitcher Mantle
With injuries to Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz, young left-hander Shane McClanahan got the Opening Day start for the Rays. He failed to record a decision but held the Orioles scoreless into the fifth inning while striking out seven. Through two starts he has a 3.00 ERA with 15 strikeouts.
In his last outing, his stuff was excellent except for one three-batter sequence when he allowed two walks and a three-run home run. His slider has been phenomenal this season, and he’s started the year with a 15.0 K/9 rate, the second-best mark in the league.
Tampa Bay had one of the league’s best offenses last season, finishing third in wRC+ and scoring the second most runs in the league. It’s off to an inconsistent start early this season, ranking just 14th in wRC+ and 18th in wOBA.
How about the start to this season from Ji-Man Choi, though? He is batting .455 with a 1.477 OPS so far, including two home runs and seven RBIs. He and Wander Franco have led Tampa Bay offensively.
Which Hendricks Will Cubs Get?
The Cubs will also have their Opening Day starter on the mound Monday in right-hander Kyle Hendricks. They have gotten two VERY different starts from Hendricks so far this season.
On Opening Day he pitched into sixth inning, allowing just one run while striking out seven. He followed up that performance getting shelled for six runs in fewer than four innings against the lowly Pirates.
Hendricks is throwing his changeup more than ever this year and it is averaging less than 80 mph. His low velocity has done a good job at limiting hard contact and keeping opponents exit velocity down.
The story for Chicago has been rookie Seiya Suzuki. After coming over from Japan, Suzuki is batting .400 with a 1.502 OPS. He has four home runs and 11 RBIs. He has the third-best OPS in the league and has led a Chicago offense that currently ranks in the top five of the league in both wRC+ and wOBA.
The way McClanahan has pitched in his first two starts, he should probably be 2-0. Instead he is sitting at 0-1. He has racked up 15 strikeouts and his 42.6% whiff rate leads the league. He just has not gotten the run support.
I think that changes Monday against the soft-tossing Hendricks. What we saw from Hendricks in his last start is probably much more the norm than his season debut. He finished last season with a 4.77 ERA and his season-high in strikeouts was just three.
His changeup has looked good so far this year, but Tampa Bay ranks eighth among all teams at hitting changeups. The Rays bounced back Sunday to stop a four-game losing streak, and I expect them to keep that momentum going as they head North to continue their tour of Chicago and finally get McClanahan some run support.
Pick: Tampa Bay First Five Innings -134 (Play to -145)