MLB Baseball: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Tampa Bay Rays Preview, Prediction & Odds -- 8/25/21

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 7:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
Where to watch: Bally Sports Sun, NBCSP

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Phillies -130, Rays +110
FanDuel: NL

Season record (entering Tuesday)
Rays: 77-48 (1st place, AL East)
Phillies: 63-61 (2nd place, NL East)

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Rays - Phillies preview and analysis

Recent form (entering Tuesday)
Rays: 7-3 in last 10
Phillies: 4-6 in last 10

The Tampa Bay Rays may have done just enough to show the rest of the baseball world that they are for real.

It goes beyond just having the best record in the American League. It’s the level of talent to transcend your club to the depths of October and get over that last hurdle. After taking two of three against the Chicago White Sox over the weekend, the Rays are the kind of team that can defend their AL Pennant and charge for their first world championship.

The Rays took their act on the road, ironically in a 2008 World Series rematch, against the Philadelphia Phillies in a two-game series that began Tuesday. Game 1 has yet to begin at time of publishing.

Tampa Bay is the true definition of believing in what you have. The Rays didn’t make any transcending trade deadline deals, much like their counterparts in the American League East, and have kept the majority of the core that came within two wins of a world title a year ago.

Now, the Rays sit atop the American League and are closing in on what they should expect to be another strong playoff push. By way of Tampa’s series win over Chicago at Tropicana Field, the Rays enter Tuesday with a four-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East. Let this sink in: The Rays have maintained this division lead, and the Yankees enter Tuesday on a 10-game winning streak. That’s how good they’ve been.

The Rays kicked off a five-game road trip with this quick venture to Philly, and what a turnaround it would be for the Phillies to stop one of the hottest teams in baseball.

Philadelphia enters Tuesday now 4.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East. It just seems like days ago when the Phillies were rolling as the hottest team in the league … and then the trade deadline happened.

But the Phillies aren’t out of this race yet after taking two of three against the San Diego Padres over the weekend in an attempt to take the sour taste of being swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of their mouth.

The Rays have yet to announce a starting pitcher, but the Phillies are expected to bring ace Zack Wheeler to the mound. The Phillies starter is 10-8 with a 2.77 ERA this season.

Offensive analysis

Once upon a time, the Rays were never really known for their power. The contact, driving in runs using the field, that was Tampa’s mantra for a while. This year they’ve flipped the script. The Rays have gotten power surges from Brandon Lowe (29 homers), Mike Zunino (26) and Austin Meadows (21). Meadows is even closing in on 100 RBI despite batting .238.

The Phillies are surprisingly in that middle-of-the-pack territory offensively despite the talent at their disposal. Jean Segura and Bryce Harper are both nearing .300 averages, but it’s a major dropoff after that, especially for the likes of Andrew McCutchen and Rhys Hoskins.

Defensive analysis

This is where the similarities end. The Rays’ pitching staff is one of the best in the league with a 3.69 team ERA. It’s like a rotation of misfit toys in Tampa, however. Josh Fleming leads the Rays with 10 wins after going from reliever to starter, Shane McClanahan has eight wins as well, and his ERA has trickled under 4.00. Tampa could benefit greatly with late starts from rookie Luis Patino and the returning Chris Archer.

The Phillies have struggled to find a starter beyond Wheeler, and that’s a problem they’ll need to address going forward. Aaron Nola is close (7-7, 4.33 ERA) but is that a perfect pitcher to have as a No. 2?


I just don’t see any reason why you bet against the Rays. Rays win 7-2.

Betting trends

The Rays are 57-49 (+22.4) the past three seasons when an underdog of +100 or higher.

While a favorite, the Phillies are 24-24 at a moneyline of -100 to -150.

Players to watch

Rays: Brandon Lowe is having a terrific power season, but he’s having a terrific August batting .286 along with seven homers and 22 RBI. If he carries this in September, look out.

Phillies: Rhys Hoskins returned after a 10-day IL stint with a groin injury, and took it to the Padres going 2-for-3 with two home runs on Sunday.

Projected lineup

Randy Arozarena (R) RF
Nelson Cruz (R) 1B
Wander Franco (S) SS
Yandy Diaz (R) 3B
Brandon Lowe (L) 2B
Manuel Margot (R) CF
Austin Meadows (L) LF
Mike Zunino (R) C

Odubel Herrera (L) LF
Jean Segura (R) 2B
Bryce Harper (L) RF
J.T. Realmuto (R) C
Didi Gregorius (L) SS
Brad Miller (L) 1B
Ronald Torreyes (R) 3B
Travis Jankowski (L) CF
Zack Wheeler (R) P

Statistical leaders

Batting average: Randy Arozarena (.274)
Hits: Randy Arozarena (115)
Home runs: Brandon Lowe (29)
RBI: Austin Meadows (88)
Stolen bases: Two tied (11)
Wins: Josh Fleming (10)
Saves: Diego Castillo (14)

Batting average: Jean Segura (.295)
Hits: Jean Segura (109)
Home runs: Rhys Hoskins (26)
RBI: Rhys Hoskins (70)
Stolen bases: Bryce Harper (12)
Wins: Zack Wheeler (10)
Saves: Hector Neris (12)
ERA: Zack Wheeler (2.77)

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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