We picked up a nice win yesterday when we backed the Seattle Mariners as small road favorites, -115, against the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa Bay was using its bullpen committee as a starter experiment, and it backfired as expected. Rays “starter” Ryne Stanek lasted just one inning after throwing thirty pitches and then turned the game over to Austin Pruitt who immediately got shelled by this increasingly powerful Mariners offense. The game wasn’t really a close one as the Mariners had built up a 5-1 lead heading into the ninth inning.
The M’s decided to give Mike Leake a shot at the complete game and had to pull him after he gave up a leadoff double to Wilson Ramos. Seattle then called on the newly acquired, from Tampa Bay, reliever Alex Colome. Colome was shaky as he gave up three runs, but the Mariners managed to hold onto the win, and we cashed our ticket. We have been struggling with blown saves badly all week, and it almost got us again last night! For today’s pick, I will take a look at game two of this series between the Mariners and the Rays.
The Seattle Mariners are in Tampa Bay Friday for game two of a four games series with the Rays. The Mariners have been red-hot over the past three weeks and have won sixteen of their last twenty games and have taken over first place in the American League West Division. For Tampa, they had a nice run going in late April and early May to get back to above .500, but they are mired in a seven-game losing streak at the moment, with four of those losses coming to these Seattle Mariners.
Starting tonight for the Mariners is Marco Gonzalez (6-3 3.38 ERA), and for the Rays, it is Wilmer Font (0-2 9.78 ERA). The Mariners are small -120 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
There is something special going on in Seattle this season. These guys have had a bunch of injuries, losing just about every impact player on the roster for at least some stretch of time this year, but they have managed to persevere. Entering play tonight, the Mariners are in sole possession of first place in the American League West and have the third-best record in the American League at 39-23. So where has this recent run of success come from for Seattle? Mostly the starting rotation as they have been pitching very well the last several weeks.
One guy that has been particularly sharp has been Marco Gonzalez. The former top prospect is finally looking healthy after missing most of two seasons with arm issues and has been great over his last four starts. In his last four starts, Gonzalez has pitched twenty-six innings and has allowed just one earned run! Marco isn’t a dominating strikeout kind of guy, but he gets guys out and hasn’t given up a homer over that stretch of action. In his last start, Gonzalez faced this Tampa Bay team, and dominated. He pitched six and two thirds and gave up just one run in a Mariners win.
The Rays will once again turn to their bullpen committee to pitch today. Wilmer Font will get the start, but he is likely to only pitch a couple of innings. Font has been traded twice already this season. He started the year out with the Dodgers, was shipped to Oakland for a minute, and now is with the Rays. Font has been used in mostly long relief situations and has not enjoyed much success on the year. He has an ERA of 9.78 on the season. He has actually pitched decently in three short relief appearances for the Rays since being acquired, but this guy has struggled all season, so you have to wonder how much longer that success will last.
I hate this bullpen by committee act that the Rays are putting on. It just doesn’t work, and all of their bullpen arms are consistently tired and used up. They got a little bit lucky yesterday as they managed to get seven innings out of Austin Pruitt. As lucky as you can get in a loss I suppose. So, the bullpen won’t be overworked too much heading into tonight’s game. But this is just a recipe for disaster. The wheels are seemingly falling off for Tampa Bay, and they are quickly falling out of contention.
Marco Gonzalez was once one of the biggest prospects in all of baseball. The former first rounder is starting to find his way at the big-league level, and if he continues to be a productive starter for the Mariners, this team could be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time. This matchup against Tampa Bay seems like a mismatch to me with Gonzalez on the mound. The kid has been unhittable for a month, and this Tampa Bay team just can’t hit right now.
The Rays are averaging just over two runs per game during this seven-game losing streak. Everything about this game makes me think of a run line bet. Seattle is red-hot and playing with a bunch of swagger. They have their young budding star of a pitcher on the mound that is pitching the best he ever has. And they get to face a bullpen committee on the mound for Tampa. Mariners star closer Eddie Diaz got the night off last night so I would expect him to be available tonight, so I am less worried about the late-inning blowup that we saw last night that would have spoiled a run line bet.
So, I will take a shot at the jumbo payout and back the Mariners on the run line tonight. There is just such a big chance that the committee starter for Tampa Bay gets rocked and this Ray’s team couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat right now. Give me the Seattle Mariners laying a run and a half tonight in game two at +140!