Rays vs Guardians AL Wild Card Odds, Schedule
Getty Images. Pictured: Randy Arozarena and Jose Ramirez.
- The Rays and Guardians begin their AL Wild Card Round series on Friday afternoon.
- Cleveland is a small favorite to advance past Tampa Bay and into the ALDS.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of both teams, including a game-by-game schedule.
Rays vs. Guardians AL Wild Card Odds
|Rays Series Price||+108|
|Guardians Series Price||-128|
- Game 1: Friday, Oct. 7, 12:07 p.m. ET, ESPN
- Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 8, 12:07 p.m. ET, ESPN2
- Game 3: Sunday, Oct. 9, 4:07 p.m. ET, ESPN (if necessary)
Tampa Bay Rays
- World Series Odds: +2000
- Pennant Odds: +750
- Regular Season Record: 86-76
- Pythagorean Record: 87-75
- Team wRC+ (Rank): 101 (15th)
- Starting Pitching xFIP (Rank): 3.56 (6th)
- Bullpen xFIP (Rank): 3.88 (15th)
How They Got Here
The Rays continue to defy projections and rode another strong season to a fourth straight trip to the postseason.
The dominance of the Yankees early in the season gave them little chance for a third straight AL East title, but Tampa rode its unconventional methods to weather some key injuries and qualify to play in October once again.
The Rays will be looking for their third trip to World Series, their second in the past three years and their first title.
The breakout many expected from former top prospect Wander Franco didn’t come to fruition as the shortstop was plagued by injuries and limited to just about half of the team’s games.
No one single Ray stood out offensively, but they did get superb production out of Yandy Diaz, who is apparently never going to hit for power, but did put together an OBP north of .400 to lead the offense in fWAR. Randy Arozarena, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year and postseason darling from two years ago, overcame a sluggish start to post another fine season.
And in typical Rays fashion, they got production from the unlikely source of Isaac Paredes, who hit 20 home runs after coming over in an unsung preseason trade.
The Rays are middle-of-the-pack offensively by wRC+, but that has been something to expect from a team that regularly defies the metrics.
A likely Cy Young finalist, McClanahan topped double-digit strikeouts per 9 while limiting both walks and hard contact. Veteran Corey Kluber came over in the offseason and competently ate innings while staying healthy, but the true breakout stars behind McClanahan were Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs, both of whom will be relied upon greatly if the Rays are able to make a deep run into October.
Reliever usage is expectedly all over the map in Tampa, where no reliever is used in typical fashion, In fact, the Rays didn’t have a single reliever accumulate double-digit saves this season, with Jason Adam (8), Pete Fairbanks (8), Colin Poche (7) and Brooks Raley (6) leading the way.
Fairbanks is the most dominant reliever and has been lights-out since returning from injury. All of his saves came post-All-Star Break and he’ll be the most pivotal reliever in a bullpen that can throw a plethora of options at opposing teams in an unlimited number of ways. –Collin Whitchurch
- World Series Odds: +3000
- Pennant Odds: +1100
- Regular Season Record: 92-70
- Pythagorean Record: 88-74
- Team wRC+ (Rank): 99 (16th)
- Starting Pitching xFIP (Rank): 3.96 (14th)
- Bullpen xFIP (Rank): 3.47 (2nd)
How They Got Here
Both of those teams disappointed, however, and Cleveland took full advantage, putting the division away for good with a three-game sweep of the White Sox in mid-September.
The Guardians went 21-8 in the month of September, topping 90 wins for the fifth time in the past six full seasons to return to the postseason for the first time since 2020 and for the fifth time in the past seven years.
However, the Guardians grind down pitching staffs with an uncanny ability to put the bat on the ball. They strike out just 18.3% of the time, the lowest mark in the majors by more than a full percentage point.
They also walk at the fifth-lowest rate, however, so it’s less patience than it is the best bat-to-ball ability in the sport. That approach is led, of course, by likely top-5 MVP finisher Jose Ramirez, but the Guardians have also found unlikely contributors from the likes of first-time All-Star Andres Gimenez (who actually tops Ramirez in fWAR), and rookie Steven Kwan.
Shane Bieber may never be the dominant force we saw during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but he’s still the definite ace of the rotation, putting together another sub-3.00 ERA and staying healthy for the duration of the season after injuries shortened his 2021 campaign.
Behind him as the unquestioned No. 2 is Triston McKenzie, who will come close to 200 innings in his first full season and also sports a sub-3.00 ERA while leading the team in K-rate. He also has a walk rate right around 2 per nine.
Behind those two is a mixed bag of sorts. Cal Quantrill’s ERA is far superior to his expected indicators, while Aaron Civale is the inverse of Quantrill. Zach Plesac is still around, but expect the Guardians to rely on those first four for as long as their playoff run lasts.
Cleveland’s bullpen is among its most distinct strengths, ranking alongside the Astros and Yankees as the best in the American League. Emmanuel Clase broke out to become one of the most dominant closers in all of baseball this season, with an ERA below 1.50 and expected indicators to say it’s not very fluky.
Behind him is James Karinchak, Trevor Stephan, Sam Hentges, Enyel De Los Santos, Eli Morgan and Nick Sandlin. There’s hardly a household name among the group, but there’s also not an ERA above 3.50. –Collin Whitchurch