World Series Odds, Picks & Predictions: Dodgers vs. Rays Game 3 (Oct. 23)
Kelly Gavin/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Walker Buehler
- The Dodgers are around -150 favorites over the Rays in Game 3 of the World Series Friday night (8:08 p.m. ET, FOX).
- Walker Buehler will take the mound for Los Angeles against Charlie Morton of Tampa, and the over/under is set at 7.5.
- Check out BJ Cunningham's full matchup analysis below, including the pick he recommends taking on the moneyline.
Dodgers vs. Rays Game 3 Odds
|Dodgers Odds||-162 [Live Odds]|
|Rays Odds||+140 [Live Odds]|
|Over/Under||7.5 [Live Odds]|
|First Pitch||8:08 p.m. ET|
The Rays evened the World Series at 1-1 after an offensive explosion in Game 2 and four and two-thirds innings of no-hit ball from Blake Snell. After Snell gave up a two-run bomb to Chris Taylor, Kevin Cash turned to his two best relievers, Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks, to get through the seventh inning. Aaron Loup and Diego Castillo then come on in the eighth and ninth to finish off the Dodgers to hold on for a 6-4 win.
Los Angeles tried to go with a bullpen game in Game 2, using seven different pitchers. However, Dustin May allowed four hits and three earned runs, including a two-run homer to Brandon Lowe in the fifth inning, which gave the Rays an early 5-0 lead and pretty much put the game out of reach.
The Dodgers will turn to their young flame thrower Walker Buehler in Game 3, while the Rays will counter with veteran Charlie Morton.
The Dodgers are huge favorites again in Game 3, so will the underdog Rays be able to pull off another upset?
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.
BaseRuns is a formula designed to estimate how many runs a team would be expected to score (or allow) given their underlying offensive (or defensive) performance. In other words, BaseRuns is a context-neutral run estimator used to evaluate teams. Major League average for an individual batter per game is 0.50 BaseRuns and a for a pitcher its 0.52 BaseRuns per inning.
Los Angeles Dodgers
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.
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay’s offense has relied on the long ball during the postseason, hitting 28 home runs, including three so far this series. However, the Rays are hitting for only a .213 average during the postseason. Tampa Bay was average against right-handed pitching in 2020 with a .319 wOBA and 105 wRC+, which ranked 16th in MLB.
The Rays are an interesting team, due to the fact they struggle versus fastballs, but absolutely crush off-speed pitches. The Rays rank 24th in MLB against fastballs with -9.9 weighted fastball runs. However, they are top-five in baseball against sliders, curveballs and changeups. Walker Buehler is mainly a fastball pitcher, throwing it over 53% of the time, so the Rays may have a difficult matchup in Game 3.
Starting Pitching Matchup
Walker Buehler vs. Charlie Morton
2020 Stats (via Fangraphs)
Walker Buehler, RHP
Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)
Walker Buehler has a full arsenal of nasty stuff. His fastball can top out at around 100 mph, and he knows how to use effectively. Buehler’s heater has allowed only a .102 average to opposing hitters and has produced a 26.1% whiff rate this season.
Buehler also has a nasty cutter that has limited hitters to a .283 wOBA and produced a 34.0% whiff rate. However, Buehler’s control has been a bit off during the postseason. He’s allowed a 5.21 BB/9 rate, which is an issue since the Rays are one of the most patient teams at the plate, ranking fourth in walk rate this year.
If Buehler is going to be successful in Game 3, he’s going to have to go to his fastball often.
Charlie Morton, RHP
Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)
Charlie Morton was a bit of a disappointment during the regular season, but he’s turned things around during the playoffs. 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 Dodgers’ hands since they’re the second-best team in the majors against fastballs.
Tampa Bay has one of the best bullpens in baseball, collectively ranking second in ERA (3.37) and sixth in xFIP (4.16). Pete Fairbanks and Diego Castillo have by far been the Rays’ best two relievers during the postseason and were pivotal in holding the Dodgers in check in Game 2. Tampa’s bullpen has been solid through the first two games, allowing only 10 hits and four runs in 13 innings.
The Dodgers counter with a bullpen that leads MLB in ERA (2.74) and was second in xFIP at 3.88. They shut down the Rays in Game 1, but Dustin May imploded in the fifth inning of Game 2 to blow the game wide open. Dave Roberts will need to do a better job at managing his bullpen in Game 3; he hasn’t even used Brusdar Graterol or Kenley Jansen thus far.
The wind is going to be blowing in pretty hard from left field on Friday night. That could have a minor effect on the amount of runs scored in Game 3.
Projections and Pick
The biggest advantage the Dodgers have in this series is their offense. The Buehler/Morton matchup is pretty much even, so LA’s offense should be the difference in Game 3. So, I’ll back the Dodgers lineup to give them a 2-1 lead in this series.
Currently, the best line on the Dodgers is -149 at BetMGM. However, I would only play the Dodgers up to -158.
The Pick: Dodgers -149