Last night we witnessed something we have barely seen this season, which is the Tampa Bay Rays look lost at the plate. Yesterday was the first time since April 26th they were held without a run, and tonight they will look to put that behind them and even the series. We’ll preview the game before going over my play on the run-line.
The biggest storyline from game one of this series was Marcus Stroman, who blanked the Rays for nine innings to give the Cubs a 1-0 win. A total of four hits were recorded in the game, one coming off the bat of Wander Franco, who ended Stroman’s no-hitter possibilities, and the biggest from Mike Tauchman, who drove in the game’s only run.
Looking to keep the Rays off the board for the second straight game will be veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks. In his first start of the season last week against the Mets, the righty pitched 4 ⅓ innings with five strikeouts and five runs, three of which were earned. New York recorded six hits off him, but tonight’s matchup is undoubtedly not ideal for a pitcher just getting his second start off injury.
Hendricks faces a Rays lineup that, even with being shutout yesterday, they are still 2nd in average runs per game and first in OPS, home runs, and stolen bases. Tampa Bay’s performance was obviously uncharacteristic of their season, especially since they have actually hit better on the road with a .275 average than they have at home.
The Cubs weren’t the only team to get a strong pitching performance yesterday, as Taj Bradley was phenomenal for the Rays. Bradley went 5 ⅔ innings with eight strikeouts and one unearned run, so he kept his team in the game for the entire outing. Getting the ball for Tampa Bay tonight will be lefty, Shane McClanahan. In 11 starts and 64 innings, McClanahan has been dominant, as he has a 1.97 ERA with 75 strikeouts and 25 walks.
In their last four games following a loss, the Tampa Bay Rays are 4-0, and I don’t expect that trend to stop today. For my play in this one, I’ll be taking the Rays run-line of (-1.5), which is priced at (-112). Tampa Bay will not be seeing the same level of pitching they faced yesterday, and they are sending out a lefty to the mound, which has given the Cubs trouble this season.
When facing a lefty at home this month, the Cubs are 20th in wRC+, 19th in wOBA, and 15th in BAbip. Those numbers are not strong, but to make matters worse, tonight, they will face one of the best lefties they’ll face all season. Shane McClanahan is in the 60th percentile in hard hit percentage, 82nd percentile in strikeout percentage, 83rd percentile in expected batting average, and has a 1.80 ERA this month.
Tampa Bay is 7th in wRC+, 7th in OPS, and 8th in wOBA against right-handed pitching on the road this month, which is not a good matchup for a pitcher making his second start of the season. In 2022, Hendricks was in the 10th percentile in barrel percentage, and in his first start this season, his two most thrown pitches had batting averages against of .333 or higher.
Tampa Bay Rays (-1.5)(-112)