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Rays vs. Nationals Betting Odds & Pick: Tampa Bay Holds Value on Road (June 29)

Rays vs. Nationals Betting Odds & Pick: Tampa Bay Holds Value on Road (June 29) article feature image

Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Randy Arozarena #56 of the Tampa Bay Rays.

  • The Tampa Bay Rays send starting pitcher Rich Hill to the mound to take on Joe Ross and the Washington Nationals on the road on Tuesday evening.
  • The Rays are one-half game back in their race with the Boston Red Sox for the AL East lead, but can they take care of business on the road to keep up that momentum?
  • MLB betting analyst Mike Vitanza breaks down Rays vs. Nationals, including updated odds, plus his picks and predictions for Tuesday's MLB interleague matchup.

Rays vs. Nationals Odds

Rays Odds -104
Nationals Odds -112
Over/Under 9.5 (-104 / -118)
Time 7:05 p.m. ET
Odds as of Tuesday afternoon and via FanDuel.

The Tampa Bay Rays (47-32) and Washington Nationals (37-38) square off on Tuesday in the first game of a quick two-game interleague series at Nationals Park.

The Rays enter Tuesday’s bout trailing the division-leading Boston Red Sox by one-half game in the American League East. Meanwhile, the Nationals — despite their losing record — trail the New York Mets by just four games in the National League East.

Can Tampa Bay take care of business on the road and potentially jump back into first place in the division, or should we count on Washington to secure the home win on the back of starting pitcher Joe Ross?

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Tampa Bay Rays

Rich Hill will take the mound for the Rays on Tuesday night in his 16th start of the season. Hill has been solid so far, compiling a 4.18 FIP and striking out opposing batters at a 9.2 K/9 clip.

His strikeout rate is particularly impressive in contrast to last season. Hill has improved year-over-year by nearly two strikeouts per nine innings after averaging 7.2 K/9 in 2020.

However, his 35.9% Hard Hit rate is up significantly from 27.7% in 2019 and 29.9% in 2020. Hill’s 1.2 home run rate (HR/9) is solid, but even that mark is also up from 0.70 HR/9 last year. Neither of these statistical increases is especially alarming. Nonetheless, it is worth keeping an eye on both metrics as the season progresses.

Tonight, Hill takes on a Nationals team that has succeeded against left-handed pitching, collectively hitting to a .322 wOBA in such situations. That number is good for the 10th-best in MLB.

Hill doesn’t typically give the Rays much distance: He hasn’t thrown more than five innings in any of his last five starts. Then again, Hill won’t necessarily need to pitch deep into the game in order for Tampa Bay to contend.

Rays manager Kevin Cash will have no issue turning to a bullpen that has been one of the best units in baseball. Tampa Bay’s relievers have pitched 339.1 innings and averaged a 3.49 FIP — the second-best mark in MLB.

Washington Nationals

Coming off perhaps his strongest start of the season, Nationals starting pitcher Joe Ross seeks to maintain that momentum tonight against the Rays. In his most recent start against the Miami Marlins on June 24, Ross pitched seven shutout innings, allowed just four hits and struck out eight batters.

Overall, however, his season has not been pretty. In 74 1/3 innings pitched, Ross has compiled a 4.75 FIP and allowed a high 37.8% Hard Hit rate. He’s also been a frequent victim of the long ball, conceding 1.6 HR/9 to opposing batters.

Nonetheless, while Ross has been wildly inconsistent over the course of the season, he has also been pitching much better recently. He has allowed zero earned runs in three of his last four starts. The other? Five earned runs in five innings. When we dive deeper into Ross’ game logs, we find that his season numbers are actually heavily inflated by two horrid starts in which he allowed 18 combined earned runs over 8 1/3 innings.

Tonight, he faces off against a Rays team that has been one of the better units in baseball against right-handed pitching. Over the first three months of the season, Tampa Bay has compiled a .318 wOBA against righties, which ranks 11th in MLB. The Rays have also been hot at the plate recently, averaging six runs per game over their last five.

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Rays vs. Nationals Pick

Ross has proven recently that he’s capable of dominant performances, but he has also demonstrated his penchant to implode in more difficult matchups. In contrast, Tampa Bay is a team that takes advantage of situations where it has a substantial edge. The Rays also happen to be one of the best offenses in baseball against right-handed pitching.

Tampa Bay will have the pitching and hitting advantage across all nine innings on Tuesday. Whereas most teams tend to struggle on the road, the Rays actually thrive. In fact, their 23-16 away record is just one game off from their 24-16 home record so far this year.

I’m banking on Tampa Bay to further bolster that away record tonight against the Nationals. I’m comfortable betting the Rays at the currently moneyline of -110, but I would bet them up to -120 if the line shifts in their favor.

Pick: Rays (-110)

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