The Tampa Bay Rays just keep on trucking, picking up their sixth straight win with an 8-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday night. Houston will look to answer back in game two on Tuesday, with first pitch from Tropicana Field set for 6:40 p.m. ET. Luis Garcia (1-2, 5.14 ERA) looks to build off his best start of the year for the Astros, while the Rays counter with Drew Rasmussen (3-1, 2.01).
Tampa Bay is a heavy -180 favorite on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while the Astros are +155 underdogs. The run total is set at 8.
Astros vs. Rays picks: Tuesday, April 26
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)
Luis Garcia vs. Drew Rasmussen
After a slow start to 2023, Garcia woke up last week against the Toronto Blue Jays, firing seven shutout innings while striking out nine. The biggest difference? The righty shelved his ineffective four-seam fastball, instead relying heavily on his cutter to stymie Toronto’s bats. If that pitch mix continues — and he keeps commanding his pitches at an elite level — he should look a lot like the reliable arm he was in 2021 and 2022.
Rasmussen has allowed an earned run in exactly one start this season. Granted, it was an ugly one — five runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings against the Blue Jays — but other than that the righty has been a model of consistency, with a cutter of his own that generates as much weak contact (82.5 mph average exit velocity) as any pitch in baseball. The righty has had success against Houston in the past, with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts.
These teams blew past this number last night, but I’m banking on a pitcher’s duel on Tuesday at the Trop. Rasmussen is one of baseball’s best run preventers — and this group isn’t nearly as dangerous as the Astros’ lineups of yore — while Garcia seems to have made a real change to his arsenal that should yield dividends.
Pick: Under 8
While Garcia was impressive last time out and could find success again, this Rays lineup is just too deep and dangerous to pick against them right now — especially with Rasmussen going against a weakened Houston offense.