Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#973 Arizona Diamondbacks 7.5 vs.
#974 Tampa Bay Rays -200
Monday, May 6, 2019 at 7:10pm EDT
Written by Chris Altruda

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Arizona Diamondbacks at Tampa Bay Rays

When and Where: Monday, May 6, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla., 7:10 p.m. EDT.

Blake Snell looks to avoid losing three consecutive starts for the first time in nearly two years Monday night when the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner leads the Tampa Bay Rays into the opener of a three-game series versus the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Kelly looks to continue strong stretch for D-Backs

Arizona rookie Merrill Kelly (3-2, 3.60 ERA) gets the ball looking to win a third consecutive start in this series opener.

The right-hander is also looking for back-to-back interleague wins after stifling the New York Yankees on Wednesday, limiting them to one run in 5 1-3 innings of a 3-2 victory. Kelly worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth and improved to 3-0 when backed with any type of run support.

“Fastball command was some of the best I’ve had, which I was happy with, and I was able to throw the curve ball for strikes,” Kelly told The Associated Press.

Kelly’s best start of the year also came in interleague play — holding the Boston Red Sox to one run and four hits over eight innings of a tough-luck 1-0 defeat April 7. This will be his first appearance versus Tampa Bay.

Snell looking for answers as Rays open week-long homestand

After going 21-5 last year en route to the Cy Young, Snell (2-3, 4.31) has yet to find a groove for the Rays (21-12), who are still atop the American League East thanks to their fast start.

Snell has not lost three consecutive starts since May 8-June 28, 2017, a stretch interrupted by a demotion to the minors. The left-hander will not endure such a fate this time around but is looking to bounce back after a rough outing at Kansas City on Wednesday when he was drilled for season highs of seven runs and six hits in three-plus innings of a 7-2 defeat.

“It was uncharacteristic. He just could never get it right for whatever reason,’’ Rays manager Kevin Cash said told the Tampa Bay Tribune. “I think he’ll be fine. … The velo is there, the fastball is there. The command was not there (Wednesday). The other day I can’t say command wasn’t there. It was just he kind of put himself in a bind against them the first outing. This outing he just didn’t have the command of his pitches.’’

Snell’s best start of 2019 also came in an interleague outing, showing his Cy Young form against Colorado on April 2 when he struck out 13 in seven innings of a 2-0 victory. The southpaw carries a 24 2-3 inning shutout streak in interleague play into this contest and is 6-2 with a 1.60 ERA in 11 starts versus the National League.

Snell, who has 86 strikeouts in 67 2-3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .170 batting average versus the senior circuit, has never faced the Diamondbacks. Adam Jones, though, is 3 for 7 with a solo homer in their matchups, while Wilmer Flores is 3 for 3 with a double.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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While Snell is struggling at the moment, his track record in interleague play and also being the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner still carries enough cache when facing a rookie. Look for “Blake-zilla” to get back to his dominant ways as Tampa opens this series with a win.

Prediction: Rays -1.5 runs (Even)

Full-Game Total Pick

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Another confidence pick in Snell bouncing back along with Kelly doing just enough to keep this game under the number. The 30-year-old has held opposing hitters to a .191 batting average in his two starts against AL teams, with both runs scoring on solo homers.

Prediction: UNDER 7.5 runs (Even)

Full-Game Prop Bet

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Even with Snell’s recent struggles, he is still sporting a solid 1.12 WHIP on the season and has a career 1.09 WHIP versus NL teams. Kelly brings the risk factor up with a 1.37 WHIP, but that number dips to 1.22 in his back-to-back wins.

Prediction: UNDER 25 runs+hits+errors (-130)

First Five Innings Side Pick

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It’s an all-in on Snell for this game with the expectation the left-hander finds his form after two subpar outings against Kansas City. In his three starts prior to those two outings against the Royals and before his toe injury, he had held the previous three teams he faced to one run combined in the first five innings.

Prediction: Rays -0.5 runs (-130)

First Five Innings Total Bet

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A toss-up pick leaning heavily on Snell, but Kelly has held opponents to no runs in the first five innings in three of his six starts.

Prediction: UNDER 4 runs (-110)

First Five Innings Prop Prediction

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Kelly has been reached for first-inning runs just once in his six starts in 2019, and Snell had been spotless in the opening frame until his last start when he served up a three-run homer to Kelvin Gutierrez. Those look to be the exceptions to the norm, and both should be able to put up goose eggs in the first.

Prediction: NO to 1st-inning run (-130)

Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is a freelance sportswriter based in Chicago. He has 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. Can be followed on Twitter at @AlTruda73.