|Rays||+1.5 (-170)||+120||Over 8 (-115)|
|Dodgers||-1.5 (+150)||-130||Under 8 (-105)|
The Dodgers took care of business in Game 1 with an 8-3 triumph over the Rays. Clayton Kershaw was his usual stellar self, striking out eight while allowing just a solo home run across six innings of work. The offense came through, with homers out of Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger along with contributions from the supporting cast.
Everything went according to plan for Dave Roberts and co. in Game 1. What does Game 2 have in store? Roberts has said LA will likely rely on the bullpen tonight, with Tony Gonsolin set to make the start. The Rays will look to even things up behind former American League Cy Young winner Blake Snell, who will be making his fifth start of this postseason.
Even with the starting pitching matchup seeming to favor Tampa Bay, Los Angeles is once again favored tonight. The Dodgers are listed at -130 to win the game on the moneyline, with the Rays checking in at +120.
Gonsolin threw 44 pitches in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Braves on Sunday. With just two days off since, it would be a surprise if Roberts leaned too heavily on the young right-hander. While he’s the Game 2 starter in name, Gonsolin likely won’t pitch more than 2-3 innings in this one.
Roberts would likely prefer to see Gonsolin get through the Tampa order once before bringing in a reliever. Dustin May, who started Game 7 but came out after just one inning, is a potential candidate to come in after Gonsolin. Roberts could also look to get lefty Julio Urias involved, but Urias seems more likely to start Saturday’s Game 4 at this point.
Regardless, it’s safe to assume we’ll see Roberts strutting to the mound early and often in Game 2. The Dodgers had the lowest ERA in all of baseball this season at 3.02, so this is a plan that has merit. With the Dodgers jumping out to an 8-1 lead last night, LA didn’t have to use any of its better relievers. That means the likes of Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, and Kenley Jansen will all be available for Roberts in this one.
Blake Snell may be the Rays’ ace, but he almost never pitches deep into games. In fact, the last time he even pitched six full innings in a start was July 21, 2019. Snell is one of the better strikeout pitchers in baseball, but he also has a history of issuing walks. That inefficiency often leads to short outings, which means Kevin Cash has to be hoping Snell gets through five innings tonight before he dives right back into the bullpen.
On the bright side for Snell, the Dodger lineup hasn’t been quite as productive against left-handed pitching this season. Snell will have the platoon advantage against Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Max Muncy in this one. Mookie Betts’ numbers against lefties in 2020 have also fallen off a cliff, for whatever reason. LA’s lineup may not look as daunting for Snell as it did for right-hander Tyler Glasnow last night.
On the bright side for Tampa Bay, falling into a fairly large deficit in Game 1 meant Cash didn’t have to use his upper echelon of relievers, either. Ryan Yarbrough, Josh Fleming, and John Curtiss mopped up after Glasnow last night, so Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, and Pete Fairbanks will be ready to roll in Game 2, if necessary.
The Dodgers looked like the better team on paper coming into this series, and we saw that play out in Game 1. Dealing with the sheer depth of the LA lineup will be a tall order for the Rays’ pitching staff over the course of this series, but the Rays are also built for this. Tampa Bay got here thanks to stellar pitching and defense, so they know what they’re getting into.
Snell isn’t the most efficient pitcher, but he also rarely gets blown up. As long as he can make it through the Dodger lineup a couple of times without going down in flames, the Rays are in a solid position tonight with a well-rested bullpen behind him. Trusting Tampa’s offense to do much damage against the Dodger pitching staff feels dicey, but I do think the Rays are a nice value on the moneyline in this one.
With Walker Buehler set to pitch Game 3 for the Dodgers, the Rays really can’t afford to lose Game 2 with Snell on the mound. I don’t have a ton of faith in this one, but I don’t mind a low-dollar flier on Tampa Bay’s +120 moneyline odds. If they win any game in this series, this has to be the one.
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