With one week to play in the regular season, the Tampa Bay Rays (35-19, 18-10 away) travel to the Big Apple to face the New York Mets (24-29, 11-15 home) on Monday, September 21st. The three-game series will be the first meeting between these two teams this season.
First pitch of the series is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. EST at Citi Field in New York, N.Y. The Mets are a heavy (-230 moneyline) favorite in the series opener, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay was riding a four-game winning streak entering Sunday before the winning streak was snapped in a 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. The good news for the Rays is that they still maintain a 3.5-game led in the American League East division and have already locked up a spot in the playoffs. After the series with the Mets, the Rays will head home for their final series of the regular season against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Peter Fairbanks (5-3, 2.74 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) takes the mound for visiting Rays. Fairbanks normally works out of the bullpen but will serve as an opener in Monday’s contest. This will be Fairbank’s first-ever meeting against the Mets.
Brandon Lowe has been the catalyst for the Rays offense. The infielder has had an impressive season at the plate, hitting .272 with 13 of his 47 hits leaving the park. Lowe’s 33 RBI also leads the team and ranks 22nd in the major leagues. As a team, the Rays aren’t overly flashy on offense but do rank 9th in RBI (248) and 12th in home runs (72).
What to Know – New York Mets
New York continues their final homestand of the season after hosting the Atlanta Braves in a National League East series over the weekend. The Mets dropped two of the three games and, with seven games to play, find themselves with just a 6.8% chance to punch their ticket to the postseason. Following this series, the Mets will head our nation’s capital to take on the Washington Nationals to close out the year.
The host will counter with the 2018 and 2019 NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom (4-1, 2.09 ERA, 0.93 WHIP). deGrom exited his last start with a hamstring injury but felt comfortable throwing a bullpen session over the weekend. It is unknown how long deGrom will pitch in the contest.
The right-hander has put together another solid season, making ten starts and throwing 56 innings. deGrom has allowed just 13 earned runs on 38 hits to go along with an impressive 60 strikeouts over those innings logged.
Outfielder Michael Conforto (.328) and infielder Dominic Smith (.323) put together excellent seasons at the dish. Both of their batting averages rank in the top-15 in the league.
Smith leads the Mets with 41 RBI, and slugger Peter Alonso leads NY in home runs with 12. The Mets’ .278 team average and 492 hits is the best in the majors.
The Pick is In
Tampa enters the final week with a first-place cushion and a playoff birth clinched. The Mets are holding onto to hope that they can still punch their ticket to the postseason.
Having a two-time Cy Young winner on the mound helps, and hopefully, he does not make an early exit due to injury. deGrom should be able to handle the Rays offense, and the Mets should be able to score runs off Tampa Bay’s pitching staff.
The Mets will win this one comfortably, so take them on the money line and if you feel the juice is too high, play them on the run line as well.