The Rays and Athletics get together in the 2019 AL wild card free pick and oddsmakers are expecting another low scoring game. Tuesday saw the high stakes atmosphere of the do-or-die game on full display as the Nationals edged the Brewers 4-3. Wednesday night is another white knuckle affair that Oakland has a huge advantage in being at home, where they are 52-29 on the season.
Rays Try to Find Their Offense In This One
Both squads have a line of 3.5 for total runs scored. That actually bodes kind of well for Tampa Bay considering they are on the road against Oakland’s hottest pitcher. The Rays are up against a lefty in the 2019 AL wild card free pick, but their splits are very similar. TB hits .255 as a team vs. a southpaw compared to .253 vs. right-handers. Their OPS vs. a lefty is just slightly lower than vs. a right-hander at .748 to .761.
The Rays played 4 games in Oakland this season in a series at the end of June, splitting 2-2 but scoring 4+ runs in three of the games. The A’s starter for the wild card, Sean Manaea, did not pitch in any of those games however as he’s only been back for a month after having surgery on a torn labrum. The Rays did face the A’s starter once in 2018, scoring 4 ER in 5.0 IP. Only 4 current Tampa Bay batters have ever faced Manaea however.
Manaea has had a strong September since returning from the IL. He’s not the only reason Wednesday’s total is so low however. Tampa Bay sends Charlie Morton to the mound as he hopes to continue strong outings put up vs. the A’s. The Rays starter hasn’t faced Oakland since early June, but he’s held them to just 1 ER on 6 hits in two games, throwing 13.1 innings. Morton comes into the postseason hot as well, having allowed just 2 runs total in two starts to end the regular season vs. Boston and the Yankees. The right-hander’s nerves should also be calm in this one after making 6 postseason appearances with Houston the last two years.
Is Manaea Ready For Prime Time for Oakland?
In the postseason, or at least a wild card game when all hands are on deck, it all comes down to pitching. On paper Oakland looks like they are solid on that end heading into the 2019 AL wild card free pick with Sean Manaea on the mound. He’s gone 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA but in just 5 starts since returning from the IL on September 1st. The wins also came against Texas (2), Detroit, and Seattle – not exactly playoff teams.
Oakland’s pitcher may give up some runs as he’s only made 5 starts this year and has never thrown in the postseason. How will the A’s offense contribute to that total though? Oakland captured home field in the wild card by just a game over Tampa Bay but was only 6-4 down the stretch. That includes their offense being held to 3 runs or less in 7 straight games. Factor in how well Morton has pitched against Oakland and this total may rely completely on Tampa Bay’s bats.
2019 AL Wild Card Free Pick
The ‘over’ 7 in this one will cost more at -125 but it may be the way to go. Manaea has built up confidence in his only month pitching this year, but it has come against bad teams. Tampa Bay is not one of those. Morton has been great vs. Oakland, but this is largely the same team that faced the Yankees in last year’s wild card game so they are used to the bright lights. There’s a good chance Tampa Bay gets 4-5 runs on their own in this one, so the ‘over’ is the play.
Pick: Rays/ Athletics *Over* 7