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Rays vs. Reds MLB Odds, Pick & Preview: Back Tampa’s Ace Shane McClanahan on the Road (Friday, July 8)

Rays vs. Reds MLB Odds, Pick & Preview: Back Tampa’s Ace Shane McClanahan on the Road (Friday, July 8) article feature image
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Tyler Schank/Getty Images. Pictured: Shane McClanahan #18 of the Tampa Bay Rays.

  • The Rays are heavy favorites as they open up a weekend series on the road against the Reds.
  • Shane McClanahan will take the ball for Tampa Bay and Cincinnati will counter with Luis Castillo.
  • D.J. James shares his best bet below.

Rays vs. Reds Odds

Rays Odds -130
Reds Odds +110
Over/Under 8 (-105 / -115)
Time 6:40 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Shane McClanahan is an absolute monster on the bump for the Tampa Bay Rays. He is contending for the American League Cy Young with the likes of Alek Manoah of the Toronto Blue Jays and Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox. McClanahan, however, may have the lead over them.

He owns an elite 1.74 ERA and 2.21 xERA, mainly because he does not allow hard contact whatsoever, his strikeout rate is elite, and he rarely walks hitters. This is an automatic recipe for success.

His opponent on Friday will be the Cincinnati Reds and Luis Castillo, who has been a staple for years in the Cincinnati rotation. He may not be at the status of McClanahan, but he is as solid as they come. Castillo boasts above average peripherals and a 3.09 ERA and 3.52 xERA. He has been a bit lucky, but 3.52 is strong, nonetheless.

However, McClanahan looks to be virtually untouchable at the moment. Take the Rays on the moneyline, given how the Reds have trouble closing games with their bullpen lately.

Tampa Bay Rays

McClanahan has a Hard Hit Percentage of 31.2% with a strikeout rate of 35.9%. This is almost unheard of and should be one of the leading contributors to betting Tampa Bay in this matchup. Off of lefties in the last month, Cincinnati does have a team .341 OBP and 110 wRC+. Aristides Aquino, Jake Fraley, and Tyler Stephenson are on the Injured List, so the Reds are a little short-handed.

They do only have two hitters above a .340 xwOBA in the past month against righties, though. This will not bode well against a pitcher of McClanahan’s capabilities. Since he is elite when it comes to not walking hitters and striking them out, the Reds will struggle.

They rank amongst the top-half of the league in Ks this season already, so McClanahan will only add to that total. He should be able to go deep into this game to offset any damage done to the Tampa bullpen, as well.

This is where the situation for Tampa might get a little tough. The Rays only have a 4.55 xFIP as a reliever group in the last month. They have enough pieces, at least, to back up McClanahan when he exits.

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Cincinnati Reds

Castillo is slightly below average when it comes to issuing walks. Off of righties since June 8, the Rays own a 7.9% walk rate and 107 wRC+. This is very much in line with the Reds off of lefties, but Castillo is not the start McClanahan is.

The Rays are missing Brandon Lowe, Manuel Margot, and Mike Zunino, but they are otherwise healthy. They do only have three hitters above a .340 xwOBA when facing righties in the last month. They have four others above the .300 clip, while the Reds only have five in total. This gives the Rays a slight competitive advantage in the lineup department.

Finally, the greatest area of concern for the Reds is the bullpen. They own an MLB-worst 4.82 xFIP in the last month of baseball out of the ‘pen. This might be because they have nine pitchers currently on the Injured List, but this is another reason to not worry about the Rays winning if it is a close game late.

They will manufacture runs against the Reds’ relief corps. Only Dauri Moreta, Reiver Sanmartin, and Joel Kuhnel have a sub-4.00 xFIP, so there is not much depth behind Castillo, especially if he has trouble with command.

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Rays-Reds Pick

I’m taking the Rays here. McClanahan is a dominant starter and the Rays have a small edge with both the bullpen and the lineups.

Since their starter will likely go deeper into the game than Castillo, he will negate the shortcomings in the bullpen and hand the game to the stronger relievers in Ryan Thompson and Brooks Raley, if it comes to it.

Take the Rays and play this line up to -140.

Pick: Tampa Bay Rays ML (-130)

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