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The best team in baseball continues its West Coast road trip on Friday night when the Tampa Bay Rays begin a series with the Seattle Mariners. The Rays just wrapped up a series in Arizona and were in Oakland and San Diego earlier this month, so they’ve spent a big chunk of June on the West Coast, although they’ve run into some trouble playing far from home, which could help to make this a more competitive game that could go either way.
Despite those struggles on the West Coast, the Rays still have the best record in baseball and a comfortable lead atop the AL East. However, Tampa’s record has evened out in June, allowing the Orioles and Yankees to inch a little closer in the standings. Also, the Rays have a relatively modest road record while being far more dominant at home.
As for the Mariners, they’re struggling to keep their hopes of reaching the postseason for a second straight season alive. Seattle has lost three consecutive series, going 3-6 during that span. That includes losing two of three games to the Nationals earlier this week. That stretch leaves the Mariners three games under .500 and a stint fourth in the AL West. Even worse, the Mariners are five games back in the Wild Card race and would need to leapfrog four teams to reach the final Wild Card spot.
Not surprisingly, the Mariners are slight underdogs at home on Friday. DraftKings lists Tampa’s moneyline at -125 compared to Seattle’s moneyline of +105. There is also an over/under of 7.5 runs in this game.
The Mariners will feel some optimism on Friday night with Bryce Miller on the mound. The 24-year-old rookie has provided a nice spark for Seattle’s rotation this year. Over the first 10 starts of his career, Miller is 5-3 with a 3.88 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. However, Miller had tons of success in the beginning but has endured some uneven starts in the last month. Miller has failed to finish five complete innings in three of his last five starts, which is concerning. On the bright side, Miller’s 3.03 ERA at home is much better than his ERA on the road. The Mariners also have one of the best bullpens in the American League backing him up.
That being said, it remains to be seen if the Mariners can help Miller in terms of run support. Over their last 13 games, Seattle has been held to three runs or less seven times, including five games with two runs or less. None of Seattle’s regulars have an OPS of .800 or better, as the Mariners lack impact hitters in their lineup. Outside of some power from J.P. Crawford and Teoscar Hernandez, that hasn’t changed much over the past couple of weeks, which is why Seattle’s offensive output has been so erratic.
The Mariners face a stiff challenge on Friday night with Shane McClanahan scheduled to start for the Rays. Tampa’s lefty is considered by many to be the Cy Young frontrunner in the American League right now thanks to his 11-1 record and 2.23 ERA. However, there is a slight caveat with McClanahan. He was forced to leave his last start in the fourth inning because of tightness in his back. The Rays ended up losing that game to the Royals, although McClanahan has had more than a week to recover. Despite leaving last week’s game early, McClanahan has pitched at least six full innings in 11 of his 16 starts in 2023. The Rays are also 13-3 in his starts, including a perfect 11-0 when he gives them at least six innings, lightening the load for an inconsistent Tampa bullpen.
Obviously, McClanahan doesn’t always need a lot of run support. That’s good news for Tampa because the Rays have had some trouble scoring runs consistently lately. There is no shortage of talent in Tampa’s lineup with Yandy Diaz, Randy Arozarena, Isaac Parades, and Wander Franco all making a strong case to be all-stars this season. But Arozarena and Franco have both slumped over the past week. On the other hand, Diaz is one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now while Josh Lowe and Jose Siri have both provided a boost. But the Rays aren’t exactly clicking on all cylinders right now. Fortunately for the Rays, their lineup should be deep enough to give McClanahan the runs he needs to lead Tampa to a win on Friday.
The over/under bet for this game could be a little tricky. The Rays are the second-best team in baseball at hitting the over while the Mariners also hit the over more often than the under. But much like Tampa’s record, there are obvious home/road splits in this area. The Rays actually stay under the run total more times than not on the road. With McClanahan on the mound for Tampa and Miller at his best at home, not to mention offensive inconsistency from both teams lately, the under is the best option in this game.
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Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.More info on Bryan Zarpentine
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