Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#4929 Miami Marlins vs.
#4930 Tampa Bay Rays
Sunday, September 26, 2021 at 1:10pm EDT
Written by Jordy

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The Miami Marlins hope to avoid a fifth straight loss in Sunday’s finale with the Tampa Bay Rays. After dropping their previous two series meetings with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals, the Marlins are on the verge of getting swept in their third straight series loss to the Rays. Not even Miami’s ace, Sandy Alcantara, could stop the Rays on Saturday. We’ll see what happens when the team starts Jesus Luzardo against Tampa Bay’s Shane Baz.

Alcantara can’t save the Marlins

The losses keep on piling up for the Marlins.

After getting shut out in the opener, they dropped a 7-3 loss to the Rays on Saturday with Sandy Alcantara on the mound. Tampa Bay wasn’t fazed by their run-in with Miami’s ace on a night where they racked up nine hits and three earned runs.

If Alcantara can’t stop the Rays, it’s hard to envision Jesus Luzardo doing any better. The Marlins’ 23-year-old starting pitcher is throwing a 7.01 ERA on the season with a 5-8 record. So he could run into problems against a Rays offense clicking on all cylinders in this series. Tampa Bay has scored seven-plus runs in each of their last two series meetings.

Meanwhile, Luzardo struggled in back-to-back games against the Washington Nationals. This was always going to be a long-shot opportunity.

At least there’s offensive hope for the Marlins’ struggling bats with rookie Shane Baz starting at pitcher for Tampa Bay. They’ll need all of the help they can get when taking on a Rays team with the league’s top run-scoring defense in their home building. Opposing teams are only averaging 3.22 runs per game against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

So it’ll be an uphill climb for this Marlins team.

Rays clinch AL East title

Everyone talked about the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees before the season started, but for the second straight year, the Tampa Bay Rays are the last team standing in the AL East title race. Whether they’ll be the last team standing in the postseason remains to be seen.

They have been in complete control of their series with the Marlins after scoring seven-plus runs in back-to-back games. Even with rookie Shane Baz (3.60 ERA) starting at pitcher, there isn’t much hope for the Marlins if they can’t put a stop to Tampa Bay’s offense.

Baz made his big-league debut on Monday against a fiery Toronto Blue Jays offense and came away with his first win. He allowed two earned runs in five innings of work. One thing is certain: The Marlins are nothing like the Blue Jays. They are ranked in the bottom-half of the league in nearly every important statistical category.

So Baz could be well on his way to a second straight victory. If he struggles, the Rays have one of the best bullpens in the league. It’s more than a singular problem for the Marlins.

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The Marlins had Sandy Alcantara starting at pitcher on Saturday and still got blown out. That doesn’t bode well for them in Sunday’s finale against a Rays team dominating both at the plate and on the mound. No, I’m not expecting rookie Shane Baz to pitch a gem performance, but he doesn’t have to when the offense is hitting the ball so well.

They dropped eight runs in Friday’s opener against the Marlins and then another seven on Saturday.

It’ll continue to rain runs against Jesus Luzardo, who has allowed four-plus runs in back-to-back games with the Washington Nationals. He’ll run into a Rays offensive lineup that’ll launch another raging bonfire at home plate. They are cracking everything in sight against a Marlins team that just looks overmatched in this series.

And don’t think clinching the AL East title will lead to them taking their foot off the gas. If anything, the Rays will be motivated to finish the season strong and build some momentum heading into the month of October.

I’m taking Tampa Bay in this one.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays (-1.5)

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The Rays are taking whatever they want at the plate in this series. It isn’t a surprise considering they have the No. 2-ranked run-scoring offense in the league. If the Marlins were going to shut down Tampa Bay’s bats, they would have done it on Saturday when they had Sandy Alcantara starting. Quite the contrary, Alcantara gave up three earned runs, and then it was all downhill once the Marlins were forced to turn to the bullpen. Things don’t look any better for them with Jesus Luzardo expected to start in the finale. Give me the over on Sunday.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.