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August 23, 2015 (Posted at 11:00 AM ET)

Take Tampa Bay Rays on the Money Line (-125) against Oakland Athletics risking 3.75% of the bankroll to win 3%.
(Odorizzi and Graveman must start for wager to have action)

The Tampa Bay Rays are still very much alive in the American League playoff race as they are currently just 1.5 games back from the second Wild Card spot! They will need to continue to pile up the wins as the competition in the AL is extremely tight with 6 teams currently vying for just two (2) Wild Card spots. For Tampa, that means that each and every win (and loss) is crucial from this point on. Against an opponent like the Oakland A's who have very little left to play for, this is exactly the type of matchup that the Rays can't afford to lose, especially when facing a struggling pitcher.

The Oakland A’s have certainly had a season to forget this year as they have struggled to win those closely contested games. Last night was another nail in the coffin as the Rays managed to rally in the 9th inning to essentially “steal” a victory from Oakland. That has been the story of this A’s team all season long and has happened to them on multiple occasions. These are the types of losses that we believe has basically forced this A’s team to throw in the towel. You can tell by watching their body language that they are simply going through the motions at the moment and another devastating loss last night likely wiped away any lingering morale that the team had left. Oakland has been kicked when they have been down all season long and we don’t believe they have anything left in the tank to bounce back in this contest.

It wasn't too long ago that Kendall Graveman had a winning record and was considered to be one of Oakland's better starting pitchers in the rotation. However, once the All-Star Break hit, things went south in a hurry for the young right hander. The A’s haven’t won a game with Graveman on the mound in his six starts and he has seen his ERA balloon up to a 7.00 ERA in those six starts. Graveman is still a young pitcher and there is no doubt that his struggles on the mound have been compiling and he is letting his frustrations get to him. When he has made a mistake he allows it to snowball and he becomes unraveled on the mound. If that's the case again this afternoon, he could be in trouble against a Tampa lineup that is looking to breakout with some offense. It doesn't help that Bob Melvin's defense has continuously given up UNearned runs this season due to fielding errors, a category in which they lead the Majors! 

If there has been one criticism about the Tampa Bay Rays this season, it would be in regards to their inconsistent offense and the fact that they have not given their pitchers the much needed run support that they deserve. Jake Odorizzi is one such example. He was fantastic in his last start, but he didn’t get enough help to get his first win of the month. Odorizzi lasted six innings against a very good Houston Astros team while giving up just one run and also striking out 9 batters! Unfortunately for him, his offense once again sputtered which cost him the win. We don't believe that will be the case in this contest.

Odorizzi has shown that he can take care of business on the mound and should have success against this Oakland lineup, which very much seems dejected and is simply going through the motions of playing the game, their heart is certainly not in it and that will cost them against a pitcher such as himself. Meanwhile the Tampa Bay bats, when they have been confident have shown that they can be explosive and should be able to find success against Graveman this afternoon. Unlike the A’s, Tampa will have the day off tomorrow which means that they can use every weapon in their arsenal in order to pick up the victory today, they will not be limited by having to worry about giving their bullpen any rest. This is an important aspect that should give the Rays enough of an advantage to pick up the win.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Rays have a better road than home record!
  • Athletics are 20-27 in day games.
  • Rays 5-2 in Odorizzi’s last 7 starts vs. a team with a losing record.
  • A's have lost Graveman’s last 7 starts as an underdog!
  • A's are just 11-17 against teams with winning records in the second half of the season.

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