Houston won game four, extending the series to a fifth game. In classic Rays fashion though they put some pressure on, scoring in the top of the ninth to make it a one run ball game. With the series now extended, both teams are scrambling to come up with a pitching strategy for this one.
Both teams have options, but neither is going to be very excited. What we do know is that Houston manager Dudty Baker has said that he is not bringing back Framber Valdez or Lance McCullers on short rest. Rays manager Kevin Cash has not been as definitive about using game one starter Blake Snell. It would seem a little too aggressive a move given that they are up in the series.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Houston Astros Game 5 Betting Analysis:
Money Line: No Line Currently Posted. (proposed Tampa -135, Houston +125)
Let’s see if we can try and sort out how the pitching is likely to play out for this one to see if we can make a smart play here. For Houston there are a couple of options with some legs. One is rookie Christian Javier. He was solid in the rotation during the regular season, but has only pitched in relief in the playoffs.
He has pitched well including tossing a couple of innings just yesterday. If they go with Javier, another couple of innings is probably all they would be able to count on as he has not pitched in back to back games all season. The other name for Houston is Luis Garcia, another rookie, who has pitched sparingly this season, just 12 innings and only one start. He has not pitched in these playoffs at all. Neither option is all that encouraging, but it is playoff baseball so anything can happen.
Tampa is in much better position, as it looks like they are going to tap Josh Fleming. The rookie righty went 5-0 this season and is a “traditional starter” for Tampa. The only downside is that he has not pitched in over two weeks. He pitched the season finale, but has not thrown an inning in the playoffs. That is a little worrisome, but on the positive side, Tampa has their three best relievers fresh and available. None of Nick Anderson, Pete Fairbanks or Diego Castillo pitched in game four and all could be asked to get more than three outs.
Houston still has some lineup advantages but it is hard to get over Tampa’s better pitching situation.
Take the Rays
Total: No Line Currently Posted (proposed total of 8.5)
There is definitely a handicap of this one where all the pitching falls apart on both sides and we see a 10-8 final score, but I think that is on the low end or probability. I see Fleming as a little bit of wild card, but other than that Tampa is business as usual. They will score just enough to give themselves a comfortable win with no offensive explosions. A theme of these playoffs is unheralded pitchers rising to the occasion and I think we see more of that there, on both sides.
Take the Under.
Score Prediction: Tampa 5 – Houston 2