The Texas Rangers have owned the AL East so far in the playoffs, going 4-0 on the road against Tampa Bay and Baltimore. Now, with a commanding 2-0 lead over the Orioles, the Rangers return to Globe Life Field to play in front of their home crowd for the first time this postseason. We’ll preview the game before going over which prop market I’ll be targeting.
Through two games of the ALDS, the Rangers have played a balanced series so far in the sense that game one saw their pitching staff carry them to victory, while game two saw their offense propel them to a 2-0 series lead. In their 11-8 win on Sunday, Texas did not get the best start from Jordan Montgomery, but their offense made up for that with five guys recording at least one RBI. Mitch Garver drove in five runs himself, including a grand slam in the third inning.
Even after leaving 24 runners on base in game two, the Rangers find themselves one win away from the ALCS, and getting the ball for them tonight will be Nathan Eovaldi. The right-hander continued to prove he is built for the postseason during the wild card round by throwing 6.2 innings with just one earned run and eight strikeouts.
In 49.2 career playoff innings, Eovaldi is pitching to a 2.90 ERA, but he will have his work cut out for him tonight against an Orioles lineup that picked up 14 hits on Sunday. Baltimore did everything they could on Sunday to climb out of the hole that starter Grayson Rodriguez put them in but ultimately fell short, despite every member of the lineup recording at least one hard-hit ball.
If there was any positive to take out of the loss, it was that Baltimore registered seven hard-hit balls against the Rangers' bullpen, so their success tonight could fall on how quickly they can get Eovaldi out of the game. With their backs entirely against the wall, the AL East division champs will send Dean Kremer to the mound to keep the series going. Kremer threw a career-high 172.7 innings during the regular season and pitched to a 4.12 ERA with 157 strikeouts.
Playing in their first home playoff game for this postseason, the Rangers are listed (-145) on the F5 moneyline, and I’ll be taking them for my first play in this game. Having Eovaldi ready to start a potential series-clinching game could not have worked out better for Texas, and while I don’t think Baltimore will go down without a fight, they may have to wait until the bullpens take over to get a real advantage in this one.
Orioles starter Dean Kremer enters tonight’s game in the 33rd percentile in barrel percentage, 21st percentile in xERA, and 16th percentile in expected batting average. With a 4.33 xFIP on the road, Kremer could be in trouble against a Rangers lineup with a 40.7% hard-hit percentage, .946 OPS, and 151 wRC+ at home over the past 30 days.
Eovaldi did not close out the regular season on a high note, but he seems to flip a switch in the playoffs that has always seemed to work. The right-hander's groundball percentage in the 86th percentile should serve him well tonight against a potent Orioles lineup. While I don’t trust the Rangers bullpen to shut them down, I think Eovaldi can hold an early lead if given one.
If there is one guy who is really struggling for the Orioles lineup, it’s Cedric Mullins, and for my prop play, I’ll be taking him to go under .5 hits at (+120). Over the last 14 days, Mullins is hitting .081 with a .258 OPS. In that span, Mullins has recorded 14 strikeouts in 40 plate appearances, and tonight, he’ll face a starter in Eovaldi, who has struck him out ten times in 30 at-bats.
In his career, Mullins is 8-30 off Eovaldi, but according to statcast, he has a .177 expected batting average off the Rangers right-hander. The Orioles' outfield has essentially struggled the entire second half of the season, and even when Eovaldi comes out of the game, he’s still likely to stay out of the hit column since he hit .095 in 25 plate appearances against Texas this season.
Texas Rangers F5 (-145)
Cedric Mullins Under .5 Hits (+120)