You wouldn’t think that a month into the season when the Pittsburgh Pirates met the Tampa Bay Rays that it would be a matchup of the best team in the NL against the best team in the AL.
You might have guessed that Tampa Bay would get off to a strong start, but nobody expected this from Pittsburgh.
Now, they’re matching up for a three-game series in Tampa.
The Pirates have already taken a series from the Dodgers, but this series against the 23-6 Rays is their biggest test to see if their 20-9 record is for real.
In Game 1, the Pirates will hand the ball to Roansy Contreras who has a 3.58 ERA and 3-1 record in five starts this year. The Rays will counter with Javy Guerra, a reliever that they just reacquired in a trade with the Brewers.
Guerra has an 8.64 ERA in eight appearances this season and this is his first start.
The best team in the AL is a big favorite over the best team in the NL tonight.
Pirates vs. Rays odds, run line and total
Pirates vs. Rays prediction and pick
The Rays are going with a bullpen game in this one and that’s not a bad idea because they are fifth in bullpen ERA. However, Javy Guerra who they are going to first has an ERA well north of eight and gave up five runs in 1.2 innings last time out when he was still a Milwaukee Brewer. The Rays pitching is great, but it’s the lineup that strikes the most fear in opponents.
Tampa is first in home runs, runs scored, hits, and OPS, and it is getting a breakout season from Wander Franco.
It would seem like the Rays are unsustainably great at the plate through one month of the season, but over the last week they’re tied with Pittsburgh for the most runs scored, 38, have the most home runs, 13, and are third in OPS, 882.
That’s going to be a lot for Roansy Contreras to handle and we just saw Pittsburgh’s other young starter have a rough outing after a fantastic start to the season.
These are two small market teams, but their offenses have serious pop. Jack Suwinski is second in the MLB in OPS over the past 15 days, 1.215 and the Pirates actually have a better OPS than Tampa in the past week, .912.
It might not seem like it, but this is a clash of the titans in the MLB right now and I expect it to turn high scoring in Game 1.
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Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change