Free Picks: Tampa Bay Rays vs Cleveland Indians

Jordan Horrobin
Jordan Horrobin
MLB Free Picks – Best Bets of the Week
Rays vs Indians Week 17
Tampa Bay Rays vs Cleveland Indians, MLB, Progressive Field

The Tampa Bay Rays (56-39) will face the Cleveland Indians (47-45) to begin a four-game series on Thursday, which will serve as the final series between these teams during the 2021 regular season. Earlier this month, Tampa Bay took all three games over Cleveland at Tropicana Field, winning by a combined scoring margin of 21-9 (two of the games were seven innings long in a straight doubleheader format). That Cleveland series started a nice stretch for the Rays, who’ve won eight of their past 11. Since 2019, Tampa Bay holds a 9-1 advantage in this matchup.

Rays’ recent dominance against Indians should continue

The Rays and the Indians are both second place teams in their respective divisions — but they’re in vastly different places as the trade deadline looms. Tampa Bay is knocking on the door of the American League East, which they won last year en route to a World Series appearance. Cleveland, meanwhile, sits 9 ½ games back of the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central, and they’re likely destined to be sellers by the end of July.

With that in mind, it makes sense that the Rays serve as -152 money line favorites (10Bet) among the day’s MLB picks. The Indians, who’ve only been favored in three of their past 11 games, are +125 money line underdogs (10Bet) at home.

Progressive Field has been mostly kind to the Indians, who have a 24-19 home record (compared to a 23-26 record elsewhere). But it probably won’t matter against the Rays, who’ve had their way with Cleveland in recent years, including a 3-1 record at Progressive Field when the teams last played there in 2019.

Rays starter Luis Patino (1-2, 4.87 ERA) will hope to piggyback off that success when he gets the start on Thursday, just his second MLB appearance since being recalled in early July. Patino didn’t do well his last time out — allowing seven runs (five earned) over 5 1/3 innings to the star-studded Toronto Blue Jays on July 2 — but the motivation to excel should be sky high. Reports coming from the Rays beat suggest that Patino is in a trial stage in the rotation, and that he can stick around if he does well against Cleveland.

Opposite Patino, the Indians are expected to counter with Cal Quantrill, who has won his past two starts despite some concerning numbers. Over his past five outings, Quantrill has a 6.38 ERA and is allowing an .897 OPS to opponents. Maybe playing on his home field, where he has a 3.86 ERA in 13 games this year, will help Quantrill. But his 1.347 WHIP in home games suggests he’s due for some regression.

Neither of these pitchers should jump off the page, in a positive sense, for bettors. But recent history is clearly on the Rays’ side, and they have far more to play for at this point in the season. That’s enough for us to be content backing the favored Rays on the road in this BetPicks prediction.

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  • Tampa Bay is 6-4 on the money line in its past 10
  • The UNDER has cashed in five of the Rays past eight games
  • Cleveland is 8-2 on the money line in its past 10
  • The UNDER has cashed in five of the Indians past nine games

Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University).