Tampa Bay Rays vs Houston Astros Preview and Picks - 09/28/2021

by James Q

Tampa Bay Rays vs Houston Astros Preview and Picks - 09/28/2021

Game Time: 8:10 pm ET, Tuesday,  September 28th,  2021 
Venue: Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
Where to Watch: Bally Sports Sun, ATT SportsNet-SW

Opening MLB Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Moneyline:  Rays +130 Astros -150;  O/U :  9.5 runs
Caesars: Moneyline:  Rays +120 Astros -130;  O/U :  9.5 runs

Season Record

Rays: 97-59  (1st place, AL East)
Astros: 91-65 (1st place AL West)

Both these teams are in first place in their division with not enough games left to play for their opponents to catch up.  They are golden.  Yet, they are different.  The Rays have been mowing down wins in what could be the toughest division in the MLB… The Astros  have been winning at an OK clip in a tired, worn out, possibly soft division.  Yes, both teams have gotten plenty of wins outside of the division and conference or they wouldn’t be here… but the Rays have played tougher baseball, no question, to better results.

The Rays find themselves in a weird spot going into this game… they are the moneyline underdog?  But aren’t they better? Don’t they have more wins?  The answer is as simple as the Rays success… with 6 games left to play the Rays won’t be pushing their pitchers in fear of burning them out before the playoffs. The Astros are very capable hitters.  If they can hear the banging of a trashcan they are even more capable.  Capable hitting against reigned in pitching seems to be the Astros advantage.


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Rays vs Astros Preview and Analysis

Recent Form

The Rays are 7-10 over their last ten games.  They are currently on a four-game winning streak.  Over the ten, they logged 3 Overs and 7 Unders.  They went 2-2 in a four-game series with the Detroit Tigers, 2-1 against the Toronto Raptors, 3-0 in a sweep over the Miami Marlins.  They are the tops of the American league for a reason.

The Astros are 5-5 over their last ten games.  They notched 6 Overs and 4 Unders.  They went 2-1 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-1 against the swooning Los Angeles Angels, and got Swept 3-0 by the Oakland Athletics.  The Athletics are 6 games back of the Astros in the American League West keeping them at least mathematically alive for now.


Offensive Analysis

The Rays are 2nd in runs scored 5.31 per game, 16th in team batting average .242, 11th in OBP .320., and 8th in home runs 211.  They hit well enough and pitch well enough for 1st place.  They aren’t overly dominant offensively, but do enough and often enough to keep getting American League wins.

The Astros are 1st in runs scored 5.34 per game, 1st in batting average .268, 1st in OBP .340, and 9th in home runs 209.  They are a dominant offensive force.  They have to be watched closely to see if they have a new way of stealing signs or some crazy new way of cheating in general, but they do hit the ball.  



Defensive Analysis

The Rays pitching staff is 5th in team ERA 3.72, 8th in strikeouts 1429, 4th in WHIP 1.18.  They aren’t the best numbers in franchise history from the mound but they are real good. They are even 3rd best in not giving up walks.  They have the makings of a world series team… they just have to keep winning.

The Astros are 6th in team ERA 3.74, 11th in strikeouts 1405, 7th in WHIP 1.23.  The Atsros are a top ten pitching team, but not in the Rays class by just a bit.  It’s the polar opposite of the offensive stats.  This is a great matchup of near identical opponents.

Rays vs Astros Prediction

Our prediction for Tuesday, September 28th is…. Rays 6 - Astros 3


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MLB Betting Trends

Tampa Bay is 45-30 in road games, +15 Units on the moneyline.
Tampa Bay is 97-59 in all games, +25 Units on the moneyline.
Tampa Bay is 28-22 as the underdog, +12.6 Units on the moneyline.
Houston is 79-53 as the favorite, -9.7 Units on the moneyline.
Houston is 47-28 at home, -5.1 Units on the moneyline.
Houston is 42-32-1 O/U on the season

Key Injuries

Rays: Nick Anderson RP 10 Day IL *  Andrew Kittredge RP (neck) 10 Day IL
Astros: Zach Greinke SP 10 Day IL *  Michael Brantley LF 10 Day IL

The injured list is filling up with pitchers that postseason teams don’t intend on using in the last 6 games.


Players To Watch

The Rays will use Michael Wacha as the starter. The 30 year old Michael doesn’t have a winning record, he’s 3-5 5.49 ERA, 113 SO in 114 IP, with a 1.39 WHIP.  He is why the Rays are not favored in Tuesday's game. He’s also an odd choice since the Rays have Monday off which in theory is a day of rest.  No player on the Rays are worried everyone is confidence in “Whachamole”.  

The Astros will start right-hander Jose Urquidy 8-3, 3.56 ERA, 81 strikeouts in 96 innings pitched, a great 0.99 WHIP.  The 26 year old Mexican from the great, historical, vacation destination of Mazatlan throws with heat and control.  He IS why the Astros are favored.

Notable Quotes

“They play extremely hard,....They're aggressive. They do a lot of things. They have some speed, they've got some power. They can go right, left on you. A lot of different looks out of the bullpen. Kind of Rays' baseball.” - Marlins Manager Don Mattingly about the Rays.

“You hate to lose, especially by a large margin,” - Houston Manager Dusty Baker

Starting Lineups

M. Margot, RF
W. Franco, SS
N. Cruz, DH
R. Arozarena, LF
Y. Diaz, 3B
J. Luplow, 1B
J. Wendle, 2B
F. Mejia, C
B. Phillips, LF

J. Altuve, 2B
A. Bregman, 3B
Y. Alvarez, DH
Y. Gurriel, 1B
K. Tucker, RF
A. Diaz, SS
J. Castro, C
C. McCormick, LF
J. Siri, CF


Statistical Leaders

Batting Average:  Randy Arozena .273
Home Runs: Brandon Lowe 34
RBI:  Austin Meadows  103
OBP:  Yandi Diaz .354
Wins:  Shane McClanahan  10
Saves:  Diego Castillo

Batting Average:  Yuli Gurriel .317
Home Runs:  Yordan Alvarez  32
Wins:  Lance McCullers Jr  12
Saves:  Ryan Pressly  25 


Rays:  Kevin Cash

Astros: Dusty Baker

Weather Forecast 

Thunderstorms.  Rain.  High of 84*.   Wind at 11 mph.  


James Q

About the Author:

James Q. has been involved with sports and gambling his entire life. A former division 1 scholarship basketball player, James understands sports (and especially basketball) inside-and-out. Following his basketball playing days, James parlayed his gambling skills into a semi-pro poker career. James resides in Los Angeles, and especially loves the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Rams, and Los Angeles Dodgers. And when he isn't betting on sports (and writing about it), James can be found performing stand-up comedy on the Sunset Strip.

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

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