The Tampa Bay Rays topped Pittsburgh Pirates in the start of a three-game set between baseball’s two best records on Tuesday night, and game two will bring a matchup of two of the sport’s bright young arms. Mitch Keller (3-0, 3.53 ERA) will start for the Pirates, while Shane McClanahan (5-0, 2.12 ERA) gets the nod for the Rays. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. ET from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
Tampa Bay is a heavy -215 favorite on the moneyline, while the Pirates are +185 underdogs. The run total is set at 7.5.
Pirates-Rays picks: Wednesday, May 3
A few notable injuries for the Pirates are RP Wil Crowe (shoulder), RP Chase de Jong (back), 1B Ji Man Choi (Achilles), and SS Oneil Cruz (ankle). Choi could be back pretty soon, but Cruz will be out until late in the summer.
SP Tyler Glasnow (oblique) has been great when able to play, but has dealt with a number of injuries through his career. SP Jeffrey Springs (elbow) was a huge blow for the Rays when they learned he would need Tommy John surgery.
Mitch Keller vs. Shane McClanahan
Keller showed signs of his former prospect prestige last season, and the former second-round pick has been one of the Pirates’ top arms in 2023. He has a six-pitch arsenal and favors his cutter, four-seam fastball, and sinker the majority of the time, all of which he uses to keep hitters off-balance and generate lots of weak contact. Keller has gone six innings allowing two runs in back-to-back outings.
McClanahan would’ve had a chance at winning the AL Cy Young Award last season if he didn't get hurt. Like other good arms with the Rays, if not for injuries, McClanahan would be talked about much more. He is one of the best pitchers in MLB by percentile rankings, with the only blue on his Statcast page coming via walk rate. He relies on his electric fastball, throwing it 43% of the time.
Both lineups have swung the bat well this season, but they’re facing good pitching today. Both starting pitchers have limited hitters all season, but their respective run support has pushed their matchups over the total when they’re on the mound. With two aces on the mound today, this should be a low-scoring game.
Pick: Under 7.5
Like I noted above, McClanahan’s only issue is walks and that’s where the Pirates thrive. They’re walking almost four times per game this season and rank fourth in baseball in walks per game. The Rays have yet to lose a game with McClanahan on the bump, but are due for one. The Pirates are looking for a bounce-back win after their last loss in Tampa and I think they get it tonight.