There is no denying the Rays have been wildly impressive in all aspects of the game to start the season, as they were able to pick up their 13th win yesterday to move to 13-0 on the season. Tampa Bay will now head to Toronto for their toughest test to date, and we’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be targeting an F5 bet in this one.
The Blue Jays could not keep their win streak alive heading into this exciting early season matchup, as they dropped the series' final game against the Tigers with a final score of 3-1. Toronto is second in the league in batting average and 8th in average runs per game, but they could not get anything going off Spencer Turnbull and the Tigers' bullpen yesterday.
Toronto’s team pitching numbers don’t rank nearly as high as their offensive numbers, but they will rely on José Berríos today to set them in the right direction on the mound. Berríos has not gotten off to a strong start to the year, as he is 0-2 through his first two starts with an 11.17 ERA in 9.7 innings. The righty has racked up 12 strikeouts up to this point, but he hasn’t been able to limit contact, which has led to him allowing 15 hits up to this point.
Allowing a lot of contact and hits, in general, is the last thing a pitcher would want when facing the Rays lineup. Tampa Bay has broken a handful of early season records already, which is unsurprising since they are leading the league in batting average, OPS, runs per game, and home runs with 32. To make matters worse for opposing teams, the Rays also lead the league in ERA.
Tonight the Rays will roll out Drew Rasmussen, who has gotten off to a phenomenal start to the year with the rest of the Rays' pitching staff. The righty has thrown 13 innings and allowed just three hits and no earned runs. Rasmussen has also racked up 15 strikeouts in his two wins while allowing no free passes.
For my play in this one, I’ll be targeting the Rays F5 run-line of (-.5) priced at (+105). The Rays are 11-2 ATS in the first five innings this season, which makes them the most profitable team in the league in that area. Conversely, Toronto is 3-10 ATS in the F5, which is the worst record in the league to start the season. I think Tampa Bay holds the advantage in the starting pitching category, and with their momentum, they can continue to get off to hot starts.
José Berríos is in the 14th percentile in hard hit percentage, 20th percentile in average exit velocity, and 36th percentile in barrel percentage, which are all areas that are less than ideal to struggle in against a team that leads the MLB in home runs. The righty made three starts against the Rays last season, and he allowed six or more hits in all three starts.
Rasmussen has been dominant to start the year, and I don’t expect him to slow down. The Rays right-hander is in the 90th percentile or better in average exit velocity allowed, strikeout percentage, chase rate, and xSLG. Rasmussen faced the Blue Jays five times last season, and they only got to him one time for more than one earned run.
Tampa Bay Rays F5 (-.5)(+105)