A pair of division leaders in the American League wrap up their series on Thursday with the Minnesota Twins on the road trying to hand the Tampa Bay Rays a rare home loss.
Minnesota Twins vs. Tampa Bay Rays (-175, 7.5)
The Rays are typically a team built around pitching but have muscled their way to the best start in Major League Baseball behind a lineup that is second in the league in runs, home runs and on-base percentage with 11 different players having hit at least seven home runs.
The Twins will look to hold down the Rays with their pitching staff as they enter Thursday second among all teams in ERA and send Bailey Ober to the mound.
Ober has dazzled in his eight starts this season with a 2.33 ERA overall, which falls to a 0.69 on the road. However, much of that is a byproduct of a small sample size as he has made just two starts on the road this season.
Additionally, Ober has been able to face a relatively favorable slate of opponents with five of his eight starts coming against teams that rank 20th or lower in the league in runs per game. He also has a fielding independent that is much higher than his 2.33 ERA with his FIP at 3.18.
For the Rays, Tyler Glasnow was expected to get his third start of the season after beginning the season on the injured list, but he may not be making this start and may be bumped back to Friday.
Glasnow has only pitched 9 1⁄3 innings this season with four runs allowed and the team might instead hand the ball to Yonny Chirinos, who has just a 2.73 ERA this season, but a fielding independent of 4.66 with 3.4 strikeouts per nine innings. That is the lowest mark for any pitcher that has logged at least 25 innings this season.
The Rays’ bullpen has been used for the most innings of any in the league and the use has taken a toll, with the team posting a 5.96 bullpen ERA over the past 30 days. That is the highest mark for any American League team.
Despite the Twins owning a .218 road batting average, the second-worst mark in the league, the team entered Wednesday 16th among the 30 MLB teams in runs per game thanks to an offense that is ninth in home runs per game.
With the struggles of the Rays’ bullpen coupled with the team’s high-powered offense that entered Wednesday having scored at least four runs in 14 of their last 17 games, Thursday’s series finale will be a hard-hitting affair.
The Play: Twins vs. Rays Over 7.5