AL Wild Card Betting Pick: Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics

Rodney K

Tuesday saw the Nationals top the Brewers in the National League Wild Card matchup, and now Wednesday it is the American League’s turn. With the honor of getting to face the Astros going to the winner, the Tampa Bay Rays (96-66) will travel to the Ring Central Coliseum to take on the Oakland Athletics (97-65).

The Rays come in having won seven of their last 10 but also having lost their last two prior to this one. The A’s were 6-4 in their last 10 games, including having lost two of their last three. The pitching matchup for this one features Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 ERA) taking the mound for the Rays against the A’s Sean Manaea (4-0, 1.21 ERA). First pitch for this one is scheduled for 8:09 pm ET.

The moneyline for this matchup features the Tampa Bay Rays at +115 and the Oakland Athletics at -135. The over/under in terms of runs scored is set at 7.5.

By The Numbers

On the offensive side, it is the Oakland Athletics that came out ahead in terms of runs per game. They ranked eighth overall, with 5.22 runs per game (4.95 at home). The Rays ranked 17th overall with 4.75 runs per game (4.98 on the road).

On the pitching side, it was the Rays that hold the upper hand. They ranked second in the majors with an earned run average of 3.67 (4.00 on the road). Oakland ranked sixth overall with a 3.97 ERA (3.49 at home).

When you put it all together, it is Oakland that holds the edge in terms of run differential. They ranked fifth overall with a +165 run differential, while the Rays came in seventh with a run differential of +113.

Rays Trying To Earn Road Win

Despite playing in the vaunted AL East and constantly feeling like they are rebuilding as they work within the restraints of a tight budget, the Rays seemingly find a way to contend on a yearly basis. Still, this will be their first time playing in the postseason since 2013, and they will look to extend their stay behind the arm of Charlie Morton.

On the season, Morton is 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and opponents are hitting just .215 against him. In 194 2/3 innings, Morton allowed 154 hits, 66 earned runs, 15 home runs and struck out 240 versus 57 walks. He will look to extend this dominance into the postseason as well.

On the offensive side, Austin Meadows has been one of the hottest hitters for the Rays as of late. In the last month, he is hitting .365/.465/.729 with nine home runs, 19 runs batted in and 23 runs scored. On the entire season, he has 33 home runs, 89 runs batted in and 83 runs scored.

Beyond Meadows, Tommy Pham (21 home runs), Asivail Garcia (20 home runs) and Ji-Man Choi have all had success in the Rays’ lineup.

A’s Look To Get Past Rays

For the A’s, they had to choose between Mike Fiers and Sean Manaea, and it is Manaea who ultimately got the nod. In five starts this season, Manaea is 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and opponents are hitting .160 against him.

In 29 2/3 innings, Manaea has allowed 16 hits, four earned runs, three home runs and struck out 30 versus seven walks. In his last outing, a 3-1 win over the Mariners, Manaea went six innings, allowing four hits, one earned run and struck out five.

Marcus Semien and Ramon Laureano have had fantastic seasons offensively for Oakland. Semien is hitting .285/.369/.522 with 33 home runs, 92 runs batted in and 123 runs scored. For Laureano, he is hitting .288/.340/.521 with 24 home runs, 67 runs batted in and 79 runs scored in just 434 at-bats.

Throw in Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Mark Canha, and there is a lot of thunder in this lineup facing off against Morton.

Rays And The Moneyline

This should absolutely be a fun pitcher’s duel to watch. On the one hand, you have Morton, who has been dominant this season and has been equally as dominant against the A’s. This year he has thrown 13 1/3 innings against Oakland and has only allowed one run. For the A’s, Manaea has been equally as dominant. Still, I have to go with the longer track record, and while Manaea has been hot of late, Morton has been dominant most of the season. I think one run decides this one, but I am taking the more favorable moneyline and taking the Rays +115.

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