Pitching and Defense the Keys to Rays' Surprising Dominance
The American League Championship Series has been one-sided. It might end up being a blowout.
The Rays have ridden great pitching staff and outstanding defense to a 3-0 lead and are now within just one game of winning the AL championship for only the second time in franchise history. Based on odds and the past, they have an 85 percent chance of taking the series. Only 15 percent of the time has the team down 0-3 come back to win.
Can the Astros, who got into the playoffs despite a losing regular season record, somehow make a huge comeback starting with a win in Game 4? Let's take a closer look:
Pitching Matchup: RHP Tyler Glasnow vs. RHP Zack Greinke
The Astros turn to veteran ace Greinke for the must-win. That's certainly going to favour Houston which should regain some confidence with a great right-hander on the mound.
Trouble is, Greinke has been plagued by arm troubles and won't be in shape to go any distance, even if he pitches well in Game 4. Sourness has been a problem for Greinke, and he's probably going no more than 5 or 6 innings, even though this is a do-or-die game for the Astros. Greinke also struggled in his ALDS start against Oakland in his last start. So, Greinke brings the big name, but many questions to the lineup in this crucial Game 4.
Meanwhile, Tyler Glasnow will start for white-hot Tampa Bay who'll be on full rest after starting Game 5 versus the New York Yankees and pitching 2-1/3 scoreless innings.
Reasons to Bet the Rays Tonight:
-- Teams up 3-0 in MLB postseason series have won Game 4 overwhelmingly in the past – 78 percent of the time.
-- Tampa Bay is clearly the better team.
-- Houston starting pitcher Greinke is a big question mark, despite his experience and big game past.
The Astros willingly embraced their odd role as the MLB’s villains in the aftermath of the cheating scandal(s), but they're now facing their biggest challenge.
Houston's road to reach this point is not impressive – defeating a Minnesota team that had lost an astounding 18-straight playoff games and Oakland, which was clearly overrated and not prepared for the postseason.
Contrast this with a team that plays total TEAM baseball, sticking to the fundamentals – solid pitching and great defense. They took down the mighty Yankees and are now showing everyone how winning postseason baseball is done.
Tampa Bay should win tonight and will be well-rested for the Braves-Dodgers winner.
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