The Cleveland Guardians can advance to the ALDS for the first time in five years with a win Saturday over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 2 of the Wild Card round at Progressive Field.
Guardians ace Shane Bieber dominated Tampa Bay over eight innings of one-run, three-hit ball, and Jose Ramirez homered for the difference in Cleveland’s 2-1 win in Game 1.
Here’s a look at Game 2 of the best-of-3 series.
Rays vs Guardians Game 2 Odds
The Guardians are again a slight favorite playing at home against the Rays.
Rays vs Guardians Game 2 Prediction
Rays 4, Guardians 2
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It wouldn’t be any fun to predict a sweep, right? Tampa Bay is going with Tyler Glasnow to start on the mound for Game 2 for his third start as he recovers from Tommy John surgery last August. Glasnow’s first start was coincidentally also in Cleveland, where he allowed a run in three innings in a 2-1 loss.
Glasnow is playoff-tested, though he has a 6.56 ERA in eight previous postseason starts. But if he can give the Rays four or five low-scoring innings, manager Kevin Cash can unleash his surplus of exceptional bullpen arms like Pete Fairbanks, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, and Jason Adam.
Cleveland will go with Triston McKenzie, who had a great 2022 campaign but has made just one previous postseason appearance in the 2020 Wild Card round. In that spot, he surrendered two runs over 1 2/3 innings in relief in Cleveland’s season-ending loss to the New York Yankees.
The Rays just saw McKenzie, in the same outing that Glasnow pitched, and he surrendered one run in six innings while striking out six on Sept. 28.
Both bullpens are loaded up, since Bieber and Rays’ Game 1 starter Shane McClanahan (7 IP, 7H, 2ER, 5K) each mostly kept the relievers off the field. I trust Tampa Bay’s relievers to get the job done if, as expected, the game becomes a battle of the bullpens.
Rays vs Guardians Game 2 Best Bet
Rays Moneyline (+100) at Caesars
The Rays should feel ecstatic they won’t need to see Bieber on Saturday. If Glasnow can hold down the Guardians, and Jose Ramirez especially, for a trip or two through the lineup, the Tampa Bay bullpen should do the rest.
Over 5.5 Runs (-125) at Caesars
If the game ends 4-2 then the over will hit. Both teams averaged more than four runs per game, and without dominant starting pitching each team should be able to plate at least three in Game 2.
Rays vs Guardians Game 2 Props
Rays 1st Team to Score (-135) at Caesars
The Rays scored first off Bieber on Friday, and if they are going to win they will likely need to cross home plate first Saturday as well.
MLB Wild Card Props
PREVIOUS: Rays vs Guardians Game 1 Odds
Cleveland is listed as a moderate favorite (-122) at home in Game 1, which seems like fair pricing in what should be a pitcher’s duel.
Rays vs Guardians Game 1 Prediction
Guardians 2, Rays 1
In a battle between two of the American League’s best starting pitchers, former Cy Young winner Shane Bieber will square off against Shane McClanahan in Game 1.
Bieber carries a 2.88 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over 200 frames this season and boasts a 2.44 ERA over his last seven outings.
However, the 27-year-old recently allowed four runs over six innings to the Rays on Sept. 27, getting a no-decision in a Guardians loss.
On the other side, McClanahan is having an equally strong season. The 25-year-old sports a 2.54 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over 166.1 innings. On the other hand, McClanahan does not enter the series in the same form as Bieber, having 11 runs in his last 14 innings (three starts).
In addition, the Rays left-hander took the loss in his latest showdown with the Guardians, allowing five runs over 4 1/3 innings on July 31.
The bottom line is that this will likely come down to timely hitting between two clubs that finished with the least amount of home runs in the American League during the second half.
I will give the edge to Cleveland with how well Bieber has pitched of late.
Rays vs Guardians Game 1 Best Bet
Guardians Moneyline (-122) at FanDuel Sportsbook
WAGER: 1 Unit
As mentioned above, McClanahan has struggled of late while Bieber appears to be in top form.
This is a close matchup, but all of the arrows seem to be pointing toward a Game 1 Guardians’ victory.
Rays vs Guardians Game 1 Props
Shane Bieber Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-108) at FanDuel Sportsbook
WAGER: 1 Unit
Bieber has racked up six or more strikeouts in six of his last eight outings. The Rays put up a 23.2% strikeout rate this season, which was the 12th-highest in MLB.
While 5.5 is a high bar in playoff baseball, we can trust Bieber to have enough volume for an opportunity to eclipse this number. The Guardians’ ace went 200 innings this season.