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World Series Game 3 Picks & Predictions: How Our Experts are Betting Rays vs. Dodgers

World Series Game 3 Picks & Predictions: How Our Experts are Betting Rays vs. Dodgers article feature image

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Kiermaier

  • Looking for betting picks for Friday's World Series Game 3 between the Dodgers and Rays? You're in the right place.
  • The Dodgers are around -150 favorites over Tampa tonight, and our experts are various forms of value on that line.
  • Check out their moneyline, run line and over/under picks below.

After an off-day, we return to the World Series tied at a game apiece. And more pertinent to this piece, we return to the World Series odds board.

The Dodgers are fairly significant Game 3 favorites (around a -150 consensus) behind Walker Buehler tonight, but is that line too high, or not high enough?

Our experts offer their picks for tonight’s game below.

Advanced Stats Glossary

FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.

wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.

wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.

BJ Cunningham: Dodgers (-149)

From BJ Cunningham’s Game 3 Betting Guide (read here):

Charlie Morton has allowed only one earned run in his three postseason starts, but he’s been a tad fortunate. His xFIP is all the way up at 3.57.

The biggest difference between 2020 and 2019 for Charlie Morton is his curveball. Last season, Morton allowed only a .185 wOBA and generated a 38.1% whiff rate with his breaking ball. In 2020, that pitch has yielded a .291 wOBA and his whiff rate has gone down by almost 10%.

If Morton can’t get his curveball working he could be in a world of hurt, because that would mean he has to throw his fastball more often, which plays right into the Dodger’s hands since they’re the second-best team in the majors against fastballs.

The Dodgers have owned right-handers in 2020, reporting a .355 wOBA and an MLB-best 126 wRC+ against righties. Mookie Betts, Will Smith and Corey Seager are three of the best players in the MLB when it comes to facing right-handers, as they all posted a wOBA better than .415 during the regular season.

And what happens to be the one pitch the Dodgers annihilate? Fastballs. LA was second-best to only the Braves this season against fastballs, accumulating 53.9 weighted fastball runs. So Charlie Morton is going to have to utilize his off-speed a lot, much like Blake Snell in Game 2 … continue reading BJ Cunningham’s Game 3 Betting Guide.

Mike Vitanza: Rays Moneyline (+140)

The Los Angeles Dodgers will turn to Walker Buehler as they try to take a 2-1 series lead tonight. Buehler’s 1.89 ERA this postseason is impressive, but when you dive deeper, the numbers tell a different story.

His 3.24 FIP, while still strong, is nearly 1.5 runs higher than his ERA, indicating that he’s been a bit lucky and that some negative regression may be coming his way. He’s yet to allow more than two earned runs in any postseason start, but there’s a decent chance that changes in Game 3.

His opponent, meanwhile, has been extremely impressive throughout the postseason. Rays starter Charlie Morton has pitched to a 1.98 FIP over 15.1 innings and is averaging 9.8 K/9. He’s also a perfect 3-0 over that span. While he’s yet to throw more than 5.2 innings in any of his postseason starts, he’s come up big for the Rays when they’ve needed him.

As we’ve covered quite extensively this postseason, both bullpens were very strong during the regular season. The Dodgers were second in all of baseball with a 3.45 FIP, while the Rays were fourth overall with a 3.65 FIP. Each team was also near the top of the league in WAR at 3.5 and 3.6, respectively. While the Dodgers have the slight edge, both teams have proven capable of dominating opposing hitters in October. Each team should also have all of its big weapons available after an off day yesterday, so there are no rest issues to worry about.

While both starters have been good for their respective teams, the Rays have the advantage in the starting pitching department for Game 3. With no major discernible edge between the bullpens, I’m riding with the underdog Rays for the second game in a row.

I’m comfortable betting this down to the +125 range.

Danny Donahue: Rays +1.5 (-122)

In a game that I think provides edges to both the underdog and a low score, my favorite bet comes by taking the Rays to keep it within a run.

Tampa is coming off a win, which — in a playoff series — lends itself to betting value, at least historically speaking. The market has tended to overreact to the prior game in a series, with bettors often expecting a bounceback from the team coming off a loss.

And as such, that’s made it profitable to bet on teams coming off a win — especially when they’re unpopular … or underdogs.

Since 2005 in this situation …

  • Less than 50% of bets: 123-99 (+41.4 units, 18.6% ROI)
  • Underdogs greater than +125: 49-51 (+21.8u, 28.1% ROI)

As for the low-scoring edge, I’m looking beyond just the Buehler-Morton matchup, and up to Mother Nature.

As of the late afternoon Thursday, the wind is expected to be coming in at 13 to 15 from left field — which just so happens to be the most open portion of the outfield given the roof’s orientation at Globe Life Field.

With increased scoring difficulty on top of an already existing edge on the Rays, I’m happy to bet against the Dodgers ability to win this game by two.

Editor’s note: As of 2 p.m. ET, the roof will be closed for Game 3 tonight.

Michael Arinze: 1st Inning Under 0.5 (-125)

With the series tied at one game apiece, we could be in line for a real pitchers’ duel with Walker Buehler taking on Charlie Morton.

I’ve actually had this game circled since I saw how the pitching matchups would line up for this series. Both pitchers really have been excellent in the postseason and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say each one has probably been his team’s best pitcher.

Buehler comes in with a 1-0 postseason record along with a 1.89 ERA and 3.24 FIP. His recent outing in the NLCS was easily his best performance as he scattered seven hits in six shutout innings of work. The fact that Buehler went six innings is a good sign for Dodgers fans as he’s been battling a blister on his pitching hand for much of the season which has prevented him from going deeper in games.

Buehler didn’t seem to have any issues with the blister in that start and he should be raring to go in his second World Series appearance.

As for Morton, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe his performance. He’s a perfect 3-0 in three starts with a minuscule 0.57 ERA and 1.98 FIP to go along with a 0.96 WHIP. Both pitchers are well rested coming in this matchup after each last pitched on Saturday, six days ago.

When you factor in that extra day of rest mixed in with some first-inning adrenaline, I think it’s possible we see some charged up fastballs in the early going. Both pitchers have allowed a first-inning run in only 25% of their outings this season. Morton has yet to allow one this entire postseason and I expect Buehler to be even more confident off his last outing, especially if the blister is no longer a worrying concern.

The Rays lineup is hitting .182 against Buehler in just 11 at-bats and the top of their order has zero plate appearances against him, which generally is an advantage for the pitcher.

As for the Dodgers, in 66 at-bats, they’re hitting just .197 against Morton with a .045 ISO. A below-average ISO against Morton will be key, particularly against a powerful Dodgers lineup. In fact, when looking at the top of the order of the Dodgers lineup, only Mookie Betts has an ISO above .000 against Morton (.087), though it’s still below average.

If he can retire Betts, or at least keep him from getting to second base, I like the odds of a first inning frame with no runs on the board. I would play this up to -132.

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