These teams open up a three-game series in H-Town, but as we saw last year, this series might not be the last time these clubs meet in 2021. Check out who we like for tonight! Tampa Bay needs just one win on their six-game road trip to have the top seed in the American League.
Houston has a three-game series on the White Sox for the second seed and if that happens, are we looking at a rematch of last year’s AL Championship Series? Neither team is going to worry about that for this matchup, instead, they will focus on building towards the right frame of mind and organizing the starting pitching and bullpen for how they want to start the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Houston Astros
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 – 8:10 PM EDT at Minute Maid Park
Don’t Doubt Tampa Bay
For those that don’t remember, with some of the pitching losses Tampa Bay suffered in the past off-season, the Rays season win total was 85.5 coming in the year. Having 97 wins as we go into tonight’s action, seems laughable at this point.
Tampa Bay has a method and despite changing managers, players, and parts of the front office, there is a – Rays Way – of playing and assembling a team and they make it work every year, continually exceeding expectations. Because they hover in relative obscurity, people see their record and wonder how they win as often as they do. This organization finds players who match their requirements.
Unless you are making MLB picks like us every day, you might not know the Rays are second in baseball in runs scored (5.3) and seventh in runs allowed (4.1). The latter is not a surprise, because this organization always finds arms, however, the development of understanding offense is fresher and they trot out a lineup that can score in bunches.
Starting pitcher Michael Wacha (3-5, 5.35 ERA) might leave some wondering how he still starts, but it seems foolish to question this organization’s methods.
Houston Looking to Get Back in High Gear
The Astros are pleased to be back at – Juice Park – trying to add juice to their offense. Houston concluded the road portion of their regular-season schedule Sunday by losing four in a row. The evidence is clear as to why; scoring eight total runs in those contests.
Back home, Houston has the fifth-best home record in the majors at 47-28. To the Astros credit, despite the lull in the last four games, their offense is consistent, scoring 5.3 runs a game at home or on the road, which is the best in baseball.
The one major difference between Houston and Tampa Bay is the Rays' superior bullpen. The Astros ERA out of the pen is 0.7 higher overall. Nevertheless, Dusty Baker’s guys' ERA at home is 0.6 lower versus when the pensters from west Florida are wearing the away jerseys.
Baker has Jose Urquidy (8-3, 3.56) taking the ball for him Tuesday night and he seldom beats himself by avoiding disasters with a WHIP of 0.99.
As mentioned, this line looks fishy from the sportsbook. Urquidy is a decidedly better pitcher than Wacha and the bullpen edge favors Houston in a home/road scenario. And for good measure, the ‘Stros are 43-14 when playing with a day off.
Maybe we will be completely wrong and Houston pummels Tampa Bay tonight. No matter, we are still going contrarian and taking the Rays as dogs. The Rays are on a four-game win streak and are 31-13 after three or more consecutive W’s this season.
The total of 9 also seems to suit the visitor who is 30-13 when the total is 9 to 9.5, compared to Houston at 15-15 when the total is in the same exact range.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.