The Tampa Bay Rays hope to remain out of the loss column as they continue interleague play against the Washington Nationals. We continue our MLB odds series with a Rays-Nationals prediction, pick, and how-to watch.
The Rays are coming off a victory over the Nationals on Monday night. They started off the scoring quickly, with a two-run home run by Luke Raley in the first inning, then added another run in the second to give them a comfortable three-run lead. Raley was not done with the long ball though, as he hit his second of the game in the 8th. The Nationals come in 1-3 on the young campaign after struggling to score. Candelario scored their first run of the game in the 7th on a fielder’s choice of the bat of Lane Thomas. He would score again in the ninth on a solo home run, but that was not enough to get the Nats back in the game.
Here are the Rays-Nationals MLB odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
MLB Odds: Rays-Nationals Odds
Tampa Bay Rays: -1.5 (-108)
Washington Nationals: +1.5 (-111)
Over: 8.5 (-118)
Under: 8.5 (-104)
How To Watch Rays vs. Nationals
TV: BSSUN / MASN
Time: 7:05 PM ET/ 4:05 PM PT
*Watch MLB games LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
Why The Rays Could Cover The Spread
The Tampa Bay Rays are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. They have had a fairly easy schedule, facing two of the worst teams in baseball. They started the season with a sweep of the Detroit Tigers at home, then went to Washington to get a 6-2 win last night. The Rays are not just winning, they are dominating teams. They have won their first four games by a combined score of 27-5. The pitching looks like it is in mid-season already. As a team, they have a 1.00 ERA and have three quality starts from their starters. The four starters so far this year have given up one run, three walks, and struck out 30 in 23 innings of work.
Josh Fleming will get the start tonight for the Rays. Traditionally a reliever, Fleming only has 19 starts in his career. It is being reported that Fleming could be used as a bulk reliever instead of a traditional starter in the game. That means the Rays would employ an opening pitcher, giving way to Fleming early in the game and then letting him go as long as he can. This may be a good thing for Fleming as well. In 2022 Fleming made three starts, losing all three, giving up at least three in each of them, and his longest start was five innings.
Tampa also has their bats going. Five different players have an OBP over .400, led by Wander Franco, who is currently hitting .533, has an OBP of .588, and a slugging of .933. He is second on the team with four RBIs and also has two stolen bases. Franco is not the only one starting strong. Randy Arozarena has an OBP of .412 and scored five times on the season. He has scored as many runs as the entire pitching staff has given up. If this trend continues, they will easily win over a poor Nationals squad.
Why The Nationals Could Cover The Spread
The Nationals have only one win on the season, and to get their second, they will need to repeat that performance. In the three losses, the Nats have given up 20 runs and only scored five. In that one game, they scored four and only gave up one. It was both their best pitching and best-hitting performance of the year. MacKenzie Gore made his first start for the Nationals and gave up just one run in 5 1/3 innings of work.
Tonight Chad Kuhl will be asked to replicate that performance. This will also be his Nationals debut, after spending last season in Colorado. During that season, Kuhl started 27 games, going 6-11 with a 5.72 ERA. This spring, Kuhl struggled at times, giving up ten runs in just 18 innings of work, plus three home runs. Kuhl needs to keep the ball in the ballpark, which is something the nationals have struggled with so far this year. The Nats’ pitching staff has already given up seven home runs, with their starters giving up five of those.
The Nationals also need to hit better. Only three guys on the Nationals have a batting average over .201 so far this season. Dominic Smith, Lane Thomas, and Keibert Ruiz account for four of their nine RBIs, four of their nine runs, and 14 of their 23 hits. A lineup cannot survive on just three guys hitting, as the rest of the team hitting a combined .114 on the season. The rest of the lineup also has 20 strikeouts on the year. If the Nationals are going to get a win, the bats need to at least find contact.
Final Rays-Nationals Prediction & Pick
The Rays’ biggest concern should be Fleming today, but still, against this line-up, it should not be an issue. Last night Jeimer Candelario finally got some offense going, driving in one run on his home run, and scoring the other. Regardless, with the Nationals missing the ball more than they are even making contact, combined with the weak contact they are making, they will not score a lot tonight. It should just take a few runs for the Rays to win this one.
Final Rays-Nationals Prediction & Pick: Rays -1.5 (-108)
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