AL contenders collide as the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros (12-10) head down to Tropicana Field to kick off a three-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays (19-3) on Monday night. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. ET. Jose Urquidy (1-1, 3.66 ERA) will start for Houston, while rookie sensation Taj Bradley (2-0, 2.61) makes the third start of his MLB career for Tampa Bay.
The Rays are currently -155 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while the Astros are +135. The run total is set at 8.
Astros-Rays picks: Monday, April 24.
Out: OF Chas McCormick (back), OF Michael Brantley (shoulder), 2B Jose Altuve (thumb)
Out: OF Jose Siri (hamstring), SP Tyler Glasnow (oblique), RP Ryan Thompson (lat), SP Jeffrey Springs (elbow), RP Shawn Armstrong (neck), RP Andrew Kittredge (elbow)
Jose Urquidy vs. Taj Bradley
Urquidy came back to Earth a bit in his last start, allowing four runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings of work against the Toronto Blue Jays. His sparkling ERA owes a lot to a friendly early-season schedule — particularly dates with the injury-ravaged Minnesota Twins and Pittsburgh Pirates — and it remains to be seen whether he has the stuff to navigate a red-hot Rays lineup.
One of MLB’s top pitching prospects entering the season, Bradley got the call to the Show a bit earlier than expected due to injuries in Tampa’s rotation and has made the most of it — pitching to a 2.61 ERA with an eye-opening 17 strikeouts in just 10.1 innings of work. The righty throws hard, and he uses that 95-96 mph heater to get on top of barrels and induce plenty of lazy fly balls.
This is simply too low of a number for a Rays offense that can clear it all by themselves. I expect Bradley to pitch well, but he’ll give up a homer or two that will help the over cash on Monday night.
Pick: Over 8
Urquidy doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence despite his impressive top-line numbers, while Bradley deserves the benefit of the doubt until the league shows it’s caught up to him. After a frankly pretty fortunate sweep of the Atlanta Braves, the Astros are due to catch a loss here.