The Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles are within a game of each other in the American League East standings wrap up a crucial series in Baltimore on Sunday that will go a long way in deciding both the division and the top seed in the American League Playoff picture.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles (-125, 8.5)
The Rays turn to Zack Littell, who is a career bullpen arm at this season was converted into a starter, for the start on Sunday after allowing at least three runs in four of his last five starts.
Overall, Littell has shown great command since joining the Rays with just six walks allowed in 75 1/3 innings, but has a 4.06 ERA thanks in large part to getting just 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings and allowing 1.6 home runs per nine innings.
Orioles starting pitcher Dean Kremer has also had his problems with allowing the deep ball, posting a 4.25 ERA and 4.65 fielding independent this season with 1.5 home runs and 2.8 walks per nine innings allowed.
Despite a 7-2 record at home this season, Kremer has had a lot of his rough starts come in Baltimore this season with a 4.78 ERA and 1.7 home runs per nine innings allowed compared to a 3.51 road ERA with 1.2 home runs per nine innings surrendered.
Both offenses are explosive as the Rays are third in the league in home runs per game on the road and are overall fourth in runs per game while the Orioles are sixth among MLB teams in runs per game.
Since playing their first game without Wander Franco on August 13, the Rays offense has skipped a beat with nearly 5.8 runs per game in 30 games without him entering the weekend, which ranked fourth in the league in that span while the Orioles are averaging just over 5.8 runs per game in that stretch.
Both bullpens enter in peak form as the Orioles have the best bullpen ERA in the American League since the start of August even with closer Felix Bautista on the injured list while the Rays are second and entered Saturday with 34 straight innings without an earned run surrendered.
While both bullpens have been impressive, with the starting pitching going in front of them and the offenses in this game, Sunday’s series finale will showcase two of the league’s best lineups in impressive form.
The Play: Rays vs. Orioles Over 8.5