The Tampa Bay Rays will visit the Houston Astros at the Minute Maid Park on Tuesday in what could be a playoff preview.
Both teams are the leaders in their respective divisions with the Rays already clinching the AL East. Meanwhile, the Astros are the no. 1 team in the AL West and they are on the verge of clinching the division with a 4.5 game lead over the Seattle Mariners. As far as league standings are concerned, the Rays have the best record in the AL at 97-59 while the Astros are second at 91-65.
These teams have played three times this season with Houston having the 2-1 edge. Tampa Bay has a record of 45-30 on the road while Houston is 47-28 at home this season.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are the no. 1 team in the AL and they have already secured their division one week ago. The Rays are merely trying to shore up their rotation at this point while at the same time trying to avoid any of their stars and key contributors getting hurt.
The Rays will let right-hander Michael Wacha open on top of the mound on Tuesday. Macha has pitched 27 times this season with 21 starts and has picked up a record of 3-5 with an ERA of 5.49 and a WHIP of 1.39 with a 113:28 K: BB ratio. In his last start, Macha allowed only one run in three innings in a no-decision against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In two career starts against Houston, Macha has allowed five earned runs in a total of 7 ⅓ innings or an ERA of 6.14. The Astros are batting at .458 against him in 26 plate appearances.
Odds from BetOnline as of 09/28/2021
Houston has yet to clinch their division but they have a commanding 4.5 game lead over the Seattle Mariners with less than 10 games left to play in the regular season. By the way, it looks, the Astros will be in the playoffs whether it’s via winning the division or the wild card.
Jose Urquidy will get his 19th start of the season on Tuesday. The right-hander is 8-3 with an ERA of 3.56 and a WHIP of 0.99 in 18 starts this season with an 81:17 K: BB ratio in a total of 95 innings pitched. In his most recent appearance, Urquidy surrendered four runs in 5 ⅓ innings in a win against the Los Angeles Angels. He has won his last four decisions dating back to June 17th.
The Astros’ right-hander has one start against Tampa Bay. Urquidy spun seven scoreless frames against the Rays on May 1 to pick up the win at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay is batting at a measly .196 in 55 plate appearances against Urquidy.
Tampa Bay is 37-17 in their last 54 games played. The Rays are 20-8 in their last 28 games played on grass, 49-20 in their last 69 games against a right-hander, 27-13 in their last 40 games against an opponent with a winning record, and 56-21 in their last 77 games after a win.
Houston is 148-72 in their last 220 road games. 136-66 in their last 202 home games against a right-handed starter, 92-37 in their last 129 Game 1 of a series, 35-16 in their last 51 games as home favorites, 54-18 in their last 72 games after an off day, and 12-4 in their last 16 Tuesday games.
Head to head, the Astros are 5-2 in their last seven meetings and 5-1 in their last six meetings in Houston.
The Rays have already clinched their division so this game won’t mean as much to them as it does to the Astros. Wacha has also struggled on the road, where he has an ERA of 6.56 and allowed a .309 batting average.
I expect Houston to come out with plenty of fire here with their division title on the line. This is a veteran squad that knows whom you don’t expect to have a losing streak for too long. The Astros have lost only thrice in their last 11 games at the Minute Maid Park. They should get the win here when they need it.
Prediction: Houston Astros
The over is 5-2-3 in the Rays’ last 10 games when the total is set between 9-10.5. The over is also 13-2-1 in their last 16 games when allowing 2 or fewer runs in their previous game, 5-1-1 in their last seven games played on grass, and also 5-2-3 in their last 10 road games played overall.
The total has gone over in 12 out of the last 16 games of the Astros when allowing two or fewer runs in their previous game, 5-1-1 in their last seven Game 1 of a series, 4-1 in their last five games against a right-handed starter, 5-1 in their last six games after a road trip of seven or more days, 5-2-1 in their last eight Tuesday games, and 7-3 in their last 10 games as home favorites.
Odds from BetOnline as of 09/28/2021
With the way Wacha has been pitching on the road this season, he might be near that total by himself. The right-hander has a road ERA of 6.56 this season. On the other hand, Urquidy allowed four runs in his most recent start against the Angels.
These aren’t really two of the most explosive scoring teams in the league but given the pitching matchup, the projected total of nine runs may be too low for them. I expect the total to go double-digits.
Prediction: Over 9 runs