TOM STRYKER’S FREE BASEBALL SELECTION WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21ST
#964 TAMPA BAY with Kluber (+108) over Houston with McCullers at 6:40 PM EST
In a nasty mood off a pair of shutout losses to the ‘Stros, the Rays will get after it under the Wednesday night lights. Tampa Bay has a tough four-game series in its own backyard against Toronto on deck and manager Kevin Cash’s crew can’t afford to get swept by Houston right now.
Veteran right-hander Corey Kluber will grab the pearl for the Rays. So far this season, No. 28 has made 28 starts and been touched for 73 earned runs and 158 hits in 148.0 innings of work. Kluber struck out 128 and walked just 18 on his way to a 10-9 record with a 4.44 ERA. Corey’s best work this year has come inside Tropicana Field too. At home, Kluber has allowed only 35 earned runs and 79 hits in 80.1 frames. That’s good enough for a 7-3 mark with a 3.92 ERA.
Righty Lance McCullers will toe the rubber for the visitors. With six starts in the books this year, No. 43 has surrendered nine earned runs and 25 hits in 34.2 innings. McCullers whiffed 37 and walked 19 on his way to a 3-1 tally with a strong 2.34 ERA. Lance’s efforts on foreign soil haven’t been that great at all. With a pair of road outings at Los Angeles (Angels) and Atlanta, McCullers was tapped for five earned runs and 13 hits in 10.2 frames. After the math, that equates to a 1-1 record with a 4.22 ERA.
There are a handful of elite team trends that support this Best Bet. Tampa Bay has won 36 of its last 51 after dropping the first two games of a series, 95 of its last 140 when playing at home, and 105 of its last 148 in its own backyard battling a right-handed starter. On the other side of the field, Houston has slipped in 22 of its last 29 on the road priced between -125 and +125 with McCullers holding the pearl.
Considering the Rays finish with nine straight road games, they need as many wins as they can get in their final five inside The Trop in order to keep their comfortable advantage in the AL Wild Card race. Take Tampa Bay with Kluber. Thanks and best of luck, Tom.
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