We’re 2 for 2 in the World Series so far here at The Sports Geek.
In Game 1, I nailed the over 7.5 with ease as the Dodgers put the boots to the Rays in the form of an 8-3 final. The next night, my colleague Ryan Bishop went with the Rays as +125 moneyline underdogs, and he too prevailed as Tampa Bay evened the series at ones with a 6-4 win.
Now, we’re set for Game 3 of the Fall Classic, only this time the Rays will hit last as the home team and will do so for the next three games.
It’s the Dodgers vs. Rays in Game 3 of the World Series from the brand new Globe Life Field in Arlington!
Dodgers vs. Rays Betting Odds
- Dodgers (-145)
- Rays (+134)
- Dodgers -1.5 (+120)
- Rays +1.5 (-140)
- Over 7.5 (-105)
- Under 7.5 (-115)
Dodgers vs. Rays World Series Game 3 Breakdown
The Dodgers will send young right-hander Walker Buehler to the bump looking to take a 2-1 series lead after Buehler put in some serious work in the NLCS against an excellent Braves offense.
Buehler pitched 11 innings across two starts against the Braves and allowed just one run in that time, good for a cool 0.82 ERA. He did allow 10 hits and walked another five, but also racked up 13 strikeouts while the lone run scored against him came via the long ball.
Buehler has been good in posting a 1.89 ERA this postseason and while they remain excellent numbers, his 3.24 FIP and 3.30 xFIP do point to some regression at some point while he’s walked 5.21 batters per nine innings as well. He’s been able to pitch out of trouble – thanks in large part to strikeouts – as he’s stranded 94.8% of the base runners he’s allowed this postseason – an unsustainable number for sure.
Nonetheless, a 13.74 K/9 for the playoffs helps and Buehler’s 3.49 SIERA confirms he’s been very good in these playoffs.
The 26-year-old fought through blister issues down the stretch of the regular season, but nonetheless turned in a 3.44 ERA in his 36.2 innings, allowing just 2.70 walks per nine and racking up strikeouts at a 10.31 K/9 clip.
The blisters limited his workload and ability to get deep into games down the regular-season stretch and into these playoffs, but his six shutout innings against the Braves in Game 6 of the NLCS was his longest outing since he threw six innings of one-run ball on August 21 against the Rockies. It was just the second time in 12 starts – including the playoffs – that he was able to reach the six-inning plateau.
It’s another big right-hander taking the mound in tonight’s Game 3 as Charlie Morton gets the ball for this one.
The last time Morton stood on the mound in the World Series was when he recorded the final out of the Astros’ 2017 championship over these Dodgers.
Like Buehler, Morton is coming off an electric championship series as he did some damage against his former Astros club in the ALCS. Across two starts, Morton hurled 10.2 innings of shutout baseball, allowing just seven hits and two walks in the process to go along with 11 strikeouts. That fine work came on the heels of a five-inning, one-run outing in the ALDS against the Yankees.
In sum, Morton has pitched 15.2 innings of one-run ball in these playoffs, good for a tidy 0.59 ERA and 0.84 WHIP.
It’s not the first time Morton has dominated in the playoffs, After all, the big righty owns a career 2.84 ERA in the postseason to go along with a 3.25 FIP, 3.68 xFIP and a 3.52 SIERA. He’s also kept the ball in the yard at a 0.63 HR/9 clip in the postseason and has yet to allow a homer so far in these playoffs.
Morton also dealt with some injuries that limited him to just 38 regular-season innings in which he pitched to a 4.74 ERA, but also an improved 3.45 FIP and 4.01 xFIP. Command remained as he worked to a 2.37 BB/9, although a velocity dip led to a 9.95 K/9 that, although good, was well under his 11.10 mark from a season ago.
Current Dodgers hitters haven’t had much luck with Morton as they have combined to hit just .197 off of him with a .541 OPS and .256 wOBA to boot.
I was on the over in Game 1 due in large part to the Dodgers and their ability to smack right-handed pitching. Tyler Glasnow had major home run issues in these playoffs after allowing plenty of regular-season long balls, so I expected the Dodgers to get to him in that one.
The Dodgers finished second with a .355 wOBA on the season against right-handed pitching but were also other the most powerful offense versus righties in the form of a .240 ISO.
The Dodgers also limit the strikeout ability of right-handers pitchers as their 20.2% K-rate against righties was the second-best mark in baseball as well.
The Game 1 explosion was expected, but the Dodgers’ bats were quieted in Game 2 as they managed just four runs, with all coming via the home run ball as Chris Taylor, Will Smith and Corey Seager all homered in that one.
The Dodgers have scored four runs or fewer in exactly half of their 14 postseason games so far after averaging 5.8 runs per game in the regular season which goes to show how runs can indeed come at a premium this time of the year.
The Rays got to Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May – a pair of right-handers – in their Game 2 win, but the truth is they were far better versus left-handed piching throughout the regular season.
Against lefties, the Rays ranked sixth with a .343 wOBA and fourth with a .217 ISO. Against righties, however, they finished 16th with a .318 wOBA and 14th with a .176 ISO.
The script has been flipped in this series so far as they struggled with Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 and succeeded against the righties in Game 2, but the regular-season sample size should certainly get the benefit of the doubt regardless of the shortened campaign.
Brandon Lowe was the Game 2 hero after he hit a pair of home runs following some serious struggles throughout the ALDS and ALCS. He homered once off Gonsolin and another time off May after he enjoyed a quality season against both left and right-handers.
The Rays don’t have much experience against Buehler with Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and Mike Zunino all facing him with different teams. That trio has combined to hit just .182 , albeit with a Margot homer across a tiny 11 plate-appearance sample.
The matchup with Buehler poses big question marks for this one, especially in the strikeout department after the Rays finished 28th with a 26.3% K-rate versus righties this season while Buehler is in fine form in the strikeout department at the moment.
The Dodgers’ bullpen was used early and often in Game 2 after Gonsolin gave them just four outs as the starter in that one, but with the off day yesterday both bullpens are in fine shape heading into this Game 3.
As I noted in my Game 1 pick, both of these bullpens ranked among the game’s best this season. For their part, the Dodgers ranked second with a 2.74 ERA this season and also checked in at second with a 3.45 FIP and a 3.5 fWAR as well.
It’s not a bullpen that racks up a ton of strikeouts as a group with their 8.85 K/9 on the season ranking 23rd, but it’s a bullpen that doesn’t issue many free passes either in the form of a 2.57 BB/9 that was by far the best mark in baseball ahead of…. the Rays and their 2.90 mark.
It’s just such a deep group. The Dodgers had nine relievers post an ERA of 3.86 or better this season and all nine are on this World Series roster. Even closer Kenley Jansen – who actually had the second-worst ERA in that group at 3.33 – had found his game again after some early postseason struggles here in 2020.
The Rays finished right behind the Dodgers with a 3.37 ERA in the regular season and also with their 3.65 FIP that ranked them fourth.
It’s a bullpen that once against saw plenty of work this season as their 269.2 innings pitched was the third-most in baseball and combined with their excellent work the Rays tied the Minnesota Twins for first with a 3.6 bullpen fWAR.
The Rays have leaned heavily on the right-handed trio of Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks in these playoffs, but Anderson’s struggles might have thrown a wrench into that mix. He allowed a home run to Will Smith in Game 2 while he also allowed that walk-off home run to Carlos Correa in the ALCS while he allowed four runs in just 4.1 innings against the Astros in that series.
Add it up and Anderson’s 4.85 ERA and a minuscule 5.54 K/9 in 13 postseason innings this season are certainly cause for concern. I don’t expect Kevin Cash to abandon him all together, but it’s something he may have to maneuver around for now.
Left-handers Jake McGee and Aaron Loup have been reliable for Cash, so a deep Rays bullpen should be able to continue its nice work moving forward.
Dodgers vs. Rays World Series Game 3 Pick
Like with many games in the playoffs, there’s a case to be made for a variety of wagers. I mean, both starters tonight are capable of pitching their respective teams to victory with the help of the dominant bullpens in this series as well.
In fact, the pitching factor to me tonight is big. The Dodgers rake right-handed pitching, but Morton is just dominating right now. Glasnow didn’t have a great postseason entering his Game 1 start and was getting bit by the long ball in a big way, so I expected the Dodgers to get to him.
Thats not the case with Morton. It was a bumpier than expected regular season, but it’s safe to say he’s in a groove right now and will make life difficult on a very potent Dodgers in this one.
We also have Buehler dealing on the other side. He could give the Rays fits in the strikeout department and we’ll keep in mind that the Rays were a middle-of-the-pack offense versus righties this season.
Add in the two excellent bullpens and I think Game 3 is of the low-scoring variety. Sign me up for the under 7.5 in tonight’s Game 3.