Rays vs. Dodgers: World Series Game 1 Pick and Prediction

By in MLB on
5 Minute Read
Rays vs Dodgers MLB
Pick: Dodgers -1.5
Odds: +130
$100 Could Win You...$230.00
Teams Spread Money Lines Totals
Rays +1.5 (-150) +150 Over 7.5 (-105)
Dodgers -1.5 (+130) +130 Under 7.5 (-115)

It all comes down to this. The 2020 World Series is upon us, and we have a matchup between a couple of cities that recent celebrated championships in other sports. Fresh off of a Lightning victory in the Stanley Cup Final, Tampa Bay will now get to see whether the Rays can win the World Series for the first time ever. Los Angeles, meanwhile, will be looking to collect its second trophy in less than a month after the Lakers claimed their 17th NBA title. The Dodgers are set to appear in their third Fall Classic in the last four years, but they’re still looking to lift the trophy for the first time since 1988.

The Rays and Dodgers both took seven games in the last round to get this far. The Rays knocked off the Astros on Saturday after blowing a 3-0 series lead to advance to their first World Series since 2008. The Dodgers stormed back from a 3-1 series deficit to topple the Braves in Game 7 on Sunday night.

Both teams will have ace-caliber pitchers on the mound in Tuesday’s Game 1. Tyler Glasnow gets the ball for Tampa Bay, while LA counters with Clayton Kershaw.

Which Kershaw Will Show Up?

Clayton Kershaw will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer someday, but his career has one notable blemish at this point. He still hasn’t won a World Series title, and his postseason career has been marred by several lackluster performances in the postseason.

The former NL MVP was scratched from his scheduled Game 2 start against the Braves in the last round, which pushed him back to pitching in Game 4. Kershaw wasn’t at his best in that game, which the Dodgers went on to lose, 10-2. He surrendered four runs on seven hits in five innings of work alongside just four strikeouts.

However, his matchup tonight with the Rays will be the easiest he’s faced since the Wild Card round. Kershaw struck out 13 Brewers in eight shutout innings against Milwaukee back on October 1 before putting up back-to-back so-so starts against the Padres and the Braves.

While the Rays were the best team in the American League this season, they have gotten to this point thanks in large part to their lights-out pitching staff. The offense has left plenty to be desired. Tampa Bay’s Game 1 lineup struck out over 30 percent of the time against left-handed pitching during the regular season, which plays right into Kershaw’s hands. The Rays do have a few quality right-handed power bats in Randy Arozarena and Hunter Renfroe, but both players are also prone to swings-and-misses, too.

How Many Pitchers Will Kevin Cash Use?

Bullpen usage is the name of the game for Kevin Cash and the Rays. You may remember Cash was the pioneer of the “opener” last season when he decided to start using relievers to begin games ahead of starters, who would come in after that reliever faces the top of the order to begin the game. The Rays haven’t utilized the opener approach as heavily this season, but it’s still safe to assume we’ll see Cash take his fair number of strolls out to the mound over the course of this series.

Tyler Glasnow was arguably the Rays’ most reliable starter during the regular season. He had the second-highest strikeout rate among starters in baseball (over 38 percent) behind only Shane Bieber. Glasnow’s control can occasionally abandon him, though, and the combination of high-strikeout, high-walk outings can sometimes lead to some short games for him.

One key for the Dodgers in this one will be to try and drive up Glasnow’s pitch count. While Tampa Bay’s bullpen is electric, LA can still gain an edge by forcing Cash to dive into his pen early and often. While the World Series schedule does include a couple of days off, Cash still can’t afford to run his bullpen into the ground so early on.

The goal for Cash is to likely get five innings out of Glasnow. If the Rays are still in a favorable position at that point, he can turn things over to his top-tier relief options, including Nick Anderson, Pete Fairbanks, Diego Castillo, and Jose Alvarado.

Rays vs. Dodgers Pick

On paper, this series clearly favors the Dodgers. LA led the majors in home runs, runs, slugging percentage, and wRC+ during the regular season. Their pitching was also stout, with a league-best 3.02 ERA as a staff. It’s easy to see why the Dodgers are -210 favorites to win this series at BetOnline.

Which version of Kershaw will show up tonight is anybody’s guess, but I’m guessing we get the good iteration tonight. Tampa Bay’s lineup is a weakness for them, and I’d expect a solid outing out of the Dodgers’ longtime ace in this one.

There isn’t a ton of upside in betting on the Dodgers to win the game at -160 on the moneyline, but you do get nice value on the Dodgers covering the runline. If they win the game by at least two runs, this bet pays out at +130. The Dodgers have more than enough upper-echelon hitters to get the job done, so my favorite bet ahead of Game 1 is to take the Dodgers to cover the runline.

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Rays vs. Dodgers Pick

Dodgers -1.5 (+130)

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...

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