Last night in game one of the 2020 Major League Baseball World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers reminded everybody just how good they can be when they are playing well. After barely surviving a brutal National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves that saw the Dodgers bats struggle, LA broke out the bats in a big way last night in game one, pounding out eight runs on ten hits.
Cody Bellinger’s sore shoulder seemed just fine, as he picked up a home run for the second consecutive game after being the hero of game seven of the NLCS. And Mookie Betts continues to look like the NL MVP, as he also put a ball in the stands in the blowout Dodgers victory. There were a lot of question marks surrounding Clayton Kershaw, as he always seems to struggle in the postseason. But last night we saw vintage Kershaw, as he worked six innings and allowed just one run on only two hits.
— MLB (@MLB) October 21, 2020
After falling behind 8-1, the Rays tried to mount a comeback in the seventh inning and plated two runs in the frame, before seeing Mike Zunino hit a laser right back to the pitcher, with two runners on base, that looked like it was going to score a run and continue the rally, only to see pitcher Victor Gonzalez manage to snag the ball almost on accident, and then toss it over to second for a double play to end the Rays surge.
After the scare in the seventh, the Dodgers bullpen got perfect innings from Pedro Baez and Joe Kelly in the eighth and the ninth and picked up a huge win to take the series lead. It is pretty early to start calling games must-win, but if the Rays fall behind two games in this series, it is going to be very hard for Tampa Bay to dig out of that deep hole. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will breakdown all of the action in game two of the World Series!
Tampa Bay Rays (0-1) at Los Angeles Dodgers (1-0)
The Los Angeles Dodgers made a major statement last night in game one of the World Series, when they hammered Rays starter Tyler Glasnow for six earned runs in the first five innings, eventually coasting to a blowout, 8-3 victory. In my preview of this series, I mentioned that game one would set the tone for the rest of the series, and after seeing the offensive explosion, and tough to hit pitching from LA in the opener, Rays fans have to be worried.
The Rays know they need to find a way to win tonight in game two if they want a realistic chance at taking home their first World Series title in Franchise history. You can look for Tampa Bay to pull out all of the stops tonight in game two, with their ace starter on the mound in a crucial spot.
— MLB (@MLB) October 21, 2020
Starting tonight for the Rays is former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell (2-2 3.20 ERA), and for the Dodgers, it is Tony Gonsolin (0-1 9.95 ERA). The game total over/under is set at eight runs. The Dodgers are -135 betting favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 5:08 PM PST from Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays navigated their way through the American League playoffs by doing a great job of limiting the opposing team’s ability to score runs. They had held teams to two runs or fewer in seven of their previous fourteen playoff games before game one last night. Using a combination of strong starting pitching and an elite bullpen, the Rays were able to win games despite the fact that they weren’t scoring many runs. But last night in game one, Tampa Bay gave up eight runs, the second-highest total they have allowed in the postseason this year.
When you look at their record, Tampa Bay always wins when they hold opposing teams to three runs or fewer. The Rays are 7-0 when holding teams to three runs or less. In games where they have allowed five runs or more, they are just 1-4. That makes the Rays recipe for success very simple in this series. They must stop the Dodgers from teeing off on them like they did last night, or they aren’t going to be able to stay competitive in this series.
Blake Snell (2-2 3.20 ERA)
We know what it is going to take for Tampa Bay to win this game, and with their ace starting pitcher on the mound in Blake Snell, they have a good shot of making that happen. Snell has made four starts in the playoffs for Tampa Bay and has posted a stellar 3.20 ERA. While that ERA isn’t necessarily going to blow anybody’s hair back on the surface, when you look at who he has had to face, it is very impressive.
Snell has one start each against the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees, and two starts against the Houston Astros. All of those teams can hit and are known for their power, and Snell has done a great job of shutting them down. In three out of those four starts, Snell has allowed two runs or less, and that is exactly what the Rays need out of him tonight. Snell is on normal rest today and should be ready to go against this hard-hitting Dodgers lineup.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers lineup has been explosive, but inconsistent, in this postseason. Against the Braves in the NLCS, they scored four runs or fewer in four of the seven games. But in the three games that they did hit the ball, they scored a whopping 29 runs. We have seen that this team can drop a crooked number up on the scoreboard at a moment’s notice, as they tend to score runs in bunches, and if they can get to Blake Snell early tonight, this series could be over before it even starts.
The bullpen was a major concern coming into this series as they were way overworked in the NLCS. But with Kershaw going six innings in game one and Dave Roberts not using anybody else for more than one inning last night, the Dodgers ‘pen got a chance to breathe and rest up a bit. These teams get the day off after tonight’s game two, and that should go a long way into getting this Dodgers pitching staff rested and ready for the late games of this series.
Tony Gonsolin (0-1 9.95 ERA)
We just talked about how the Dodgers bullpen was able to get a little bit of a break yesterday, but with Tony Gonsolin on the mound in game two, they better not get used to having the night off, as this guy has been awful in the postseason. Gonsolin was called on to start game two of the NLCS after Clayton Kershaw was a late scratch with back spasms. In an admittedly tough spot, Gonsolin started against Atlanta and got hammered for five earned runs in four and a third innings of work.
With few options to use in game seven, the Dodgers again called on Gonsolin to pitch, this time out of the bullpen, and again, he was not able to be effective. In game seven, Gonsolin gave up two earned runs in just two innings, and the Dodgers were very lucky that they were able to dig out of the hole he put them in early in the game. In total, Gonsolin has pitched 6.1 innings in the postseason and has allowed seven earned runs on five hits and six walks. Yikes.
Who Do I Like?
This line opened up with the Dodgers -145, and the sharps hammered it. I think we can all agree at this point that the Dodgers are the far superior overall team, but to see them as prohibitive favorites in this game didn’t make a lot of sense. Tony Gonsolin is an untested young pitcher that has shown zero ability to be serviceable in high-pressure environments. His recent struggles in the playoffs actually extend back into September as well, as the Dodgers are just 2-4 in his last six starts.
That bad record comes on a team that has been wining north of 70% of their games. If you go 2-4 pitching for, say, the Seattle Mariners, it might not be all that bad, but going 2-4 for a Dodgers team that had the highest regular-season winning percentage in modern baseball history this year, is absolutely concerning. Gonsolin started his season out by allowed just two earned runs in his first five starts. That was good for an ERA of just 0.51. But since then, Gonsolin has had an ERA of 5.22 in his last six appearances.
And when you look at Ray’s starter Blake Snell, this guy is a proven winner that has shown he can carry his team when needed. Snell hasn’t been as sharp this year as he has been at other times in his career, but the guy has a career 2.88 ERA in seven postseason appearances for Tampa Bay, all coming in the last two seasons. The Rays know how big of a game this is for them, and I expect Snell to step up for them tonight.
We talked about that opening number moving, and it has dropped ten full points already and is seemingly still on the move. I would think that once all of the public action starts pouring in on the Dodgers, as it almost always does, that this line move will slow down, but right now, all of the early morning betting sharps are on Tampa Bay. As a general rule, I don’t like to follow line moves once they have moved this far, as you can end up in a right side, wrong number, situation, where your value gets greatly reduced.
But I just see the Rays finding a way to win this game. Gonsolin scares me a lot, and I don’t think he is going to be in this game for very long. Tampa Bay has to find a way to score early runs against him, or they are going to be in trouble. Against the Astros, the Rays scored runs in the first three innings four times in seven games. They need to do that again tonight, and if they do, they will be in great shape to steal this game and tie the series up. Give me the Tampa Bay Rays as road underdogs tonight in game two of the World Series at +125!