Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#913 Tampa Bay Rays -130 vs.
#914 Cleveland Indians 8
Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 6:10pm EDT
Written by Chris Altruda

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Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Indians

When and Where: Thursday, May 23, Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio, 6:10 p.m. EDT.

Facing a potential arms shortage, the Tampa Bay Rays are expected to dip into their farm system and recall Ryan Yarbrough for the opener of their four-game series against the Cleveland Indians.

Rays likely to use opener, but which one?

Tampa Bay has rejiggered its rotation for this series, pushing back both Blake Snell and Charlie Morton to Friday and Saturday, respectively.

With Ryne Stanek throwing 1 2/3 innings Wednesday against the Dodgers and Yonny Chirinos following with 3 2-3 innings, the Rays are turning to Yarbrough (2-1, 8.10 ERA), who last pitched for them April 24.

Yarbrough — a 16-game winner in a jack-of-all trades role as a rookie last year — has been stretched out since going to Triple-A Durham last month, going 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in four starts for the Bulls while throwing at least five innings in each outing. The left-hander struck out 10 in six innings Friday against Rochester, giving up two runs in a 9-5 victory.

The left-hander beat the Indians in his only matchup against them in September, holding them to one run and two hits in five innings of Tampa Bay’s 6-4 victory in Cleveland.

Plutko looks to build on stellar season debut

Adam Plutko (1-0, 1.50) looks to get the Indians (25-23) back on track after they were swept in a three-game series at home by the Oakland Athletics.

The right-hander’s sole mistake in six innings against Baltimore on Saturday was a fourth-inning homer by Trey Mancini as Cleveland recorded a 4-1 victory. Plutko struck out four in a tidy 83-pitch effort, recording 59 strikes.

“I thought he pitched his (butt) off,” Francona told the Beacon Journal. “He used all his pitches. He slowed them up enough with his change-up, commanded his fastball. There were some balls that were hit fairly deep that fortunately stayed in the ballpark, but I thought he really pitched well.

“We thought 80 [pitches] was about the right [limit] and that’s kinda right where he got. But to do it in six innings was very impressive.”

Plutko has never faced the Rays but has been a decent starter at home in stretches of three seasons with Cleveland, going 4-2 with a 4.25 ERA in eight starts at Progressive Field. The Indians offense has helped to that cause, backing him with an average of 7.03 runs in those games.

Cleveland did not do a good job of stringing together hits against Oakland, with six of the nine runs it scored in the three defeats coming via home runs. Carlos Santana, who had a double in Wednesday’s 7-2 loss, is 9 for 21 with three homers in the first seven games of this homestand and also has drawn 10 walks in that span.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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There are no lines established with Yarbrough not officially announced as a starter, but with the Indians reeling after being swept by the A’s, this is a chance for Tampa Bay to start this series on a positive note.

Yarbrough appears to have found a groove while pitching in Durham, and the Rays sorely need another arm to eat innings beyond Snell and Morton as they wait for Tyler Glasnow to return from a strained forearm.

The Rays appear to have righted themselves after an uncharacteristic loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday night and salvaged a split of their series. That momentum should carry into this contest.

Prediction: Rays (-136)

Full-Game Total Pick

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This number came in surprisingly high at 9.5 runs, though the feeling is it is partly attributed to Yarbrough’s status as a call-up. Plutko is coming off a solid performance, and Yarbrough should be able to keep Tampa Bay close in a low-scoring game.

The under has a 7-1 mark in the Rays’ last eight road games and 22-7-2 in their last 31 on the road against above-.500 teams. On Cleveland’s side, the under is 5-0 in Plutko’s last five home starts and 7-1 in his last eight outings overall.

Prediction: UNDER 9.5 runs (-121)

Full-Game Prop Bet

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This is a confidence pick in Yarbrough, but the Indians are struggling to find offensive on a consistent basis aside from the long ball. While Yarbrough’s body of work this year is thin, he did allow only 18 homers in 147 1-3 innings in 2018 and should be able to keep the Indians in the ballpark while limiting big innings.

Prediction: Indians UNDER 4 runs (+100)

First Five Innings Side Pick

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The Rays are worth the flyer here — the Indians have trailed after five innings in five of the seven games on the homestand thus far. Tampa Bay has a 7-4-2 record after five innings in its last 13 overall, but Kevin Cash’s team also has competed well considering eight of the games in that stretch were against the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Prediction: Rays -0.5 runs (+105)

First Five Innings Total Bet

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A confidence pick in both pitchers, and the five-inning under has been trending strongly with the Rays of late, going 8-1 in their last nine games. The five-inning under also has a 6-2-2 mark in Cleveland’s last 10 home games, including Plutko’s outing versus Baltimore.

Tampa Bay’s pitchers also have allowed more than two runs in the first five innings just twice in the last 13 games.

Prediction: UNDER 5 runs (-110)

First Five Innings Prop Prediction

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A bit of an aggressive play for the first three frames, but the Rays rank second in the majors in first-inning runs (0.7 per game) and lead in first-inning runs on the road (0.82). All told, Tampa Bay has a plus-34 run differential in the first three innings compared to Cleveland’s minus-15.

Prediction: Rays -0.5 runs first 3 innings (+130)
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Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is based in Chicago. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiner, he worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Follow Chris daily right here at W&W and on Twitter at @AlTruda73. You won’t be disappointed.