Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#963 Tampa Bay Rays 8.5 vs.
#964 Cleveland Indians -120
Sunday, May 26, 2019 at 1:10pm EDT
Written by Sporty Jordy

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This article covers a past game!

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When and where: May 26, 2019, Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH, 1:10 PM ET

The American League showdown between the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians will continue to highlight the Memorial Day weekend in Sunday’s closeout game. A turnaround series is in order for the Indians after they were swept at home by the Oakland Athletics. However, the Rays will have something to say about it after losing to the New York Yankees and splitting even with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Right-handed pitcher Trevor Bauer is expected to take the mound first for the Indians on Sunday opposite of a pitcher that has yet to be announced for the Rays.

Rays seeking a bounce-back series

Since losing the top spot in the AL East, the Rays have slowly slid further behind the Yankees in the standings. They were defeated on the road by the Yankees after losing a three-game series to them at home as well. Then they went on to split even with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which has left them currently sitting in second place, four games out from tying the Yankees’ win total (33).

After going into Cleveland and taking the series opener, they fell in defeat in Friday’s rematch after being held to only one run in the game.

The Rays’ pitching rotation still has the best-combined ERA in baseball (2.99), which gives them an advantage in nearly every game they play. However, there has been clear defensive slippage against some of the better offensive teams in the league like the Yankees and Dodgers. There is no getting over the hump if the Rays can’t keep the best teams in the league in check. The Rays haven’t made the playoffs in nearly six years.

Indians not where they thought they’d be

The Indians didn’t expect they’d be the ones looking up to the Minnesota Twins at this point in the season. Yet, they’re clinging as hard as they can to a 26-24 record, and the Twins are on pace to win 100-plus games this season. Injuries to two-time AL CY Young winner Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger has come with some serious defensive issues for the Indians. Those absences are even more magnified since defense is typically their bread and butter. Despite their offensive inefficiencies, they’ve typically been able to lean on their defense to force opponents into ugly, low-scoring games that benefit their style of play.

Bauer is hoping to make up for that loss to the best of his ability in Sunday’s game against the Rays. The 28-year-old veteran will step onto the mound with a 3.95 overall ERA and a 1.17 WHIP, which is more indicative of the success he’s had earlier in the season. However, he’s struggled in recent outings against the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox. Particularly in the game against the White Sox, he allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs, including two homers, in five innings.

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The fact that there are lingering trade rumors involving Bauer is all you need to know when it comes to the Indians’ trust in him. That isn’t to diminish the magic carpet ride he had in his 2018 All-Star season, but he clearly isn’t playing anywhere near that level right now. In 23 innings pitched in the month of May so far, he’s averaging a 7.04 ERA and two losses, which could spell trouble when facing Tampa Bay’s top-15 offense.

The defense for the Indians is too inconsistent to trust on Sunday, and if the Rays find breathing room on offense early in the game, it’ll probably be a quick night. There isn’t much hope for a team slashing at .222/.361/.309 taking on one of the best pitching rotations in baseball. There is too much reliance on the defense to take the Indians in this game.

The Rays will continue their efforts to close the gap on the Yankees and deliver another thrilling well-rounded effort to knock off the Indians on Sunday and take the series.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays

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The under is 4-0 in the last four head-to-head meetings between the Indians and Rays. Even though the Rays can bang at the plate, they still haven’t been a high run-scoring team. They are only averaging 4.46 runs per game, which all but guarantees another low-scoring meeting with the Indians’ sluggish offense. I’m taking the under betting total on Sunday.

Prediction: Under

Written By Jordy McElroy , "Sporty Jordy"

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