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June 2, 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)

Take Tampa Bay Rays (-115) on the Money Line against LA Angels risking 3% of the bankroll.
(Archer and Wilson must start for wager to have action)

This is a matchup where we feel perception plays a big part. The Los Angeles Angels come into this matchup on an impressive 5 game winning streak and has scored 33 runs in the process. They have been putting on quite a show recently and tonight will square off against a Tampa Bay Rays team that has been in a bit of a funk recently having lost 7 of their last 9 games with a lack of offense has been a major issue for the Rays as of late. It would be easy to assume that the Angels should have no issues continuing their impressive run over a struggling team, however we don't believe that will be the case. The oddsmakers opened up the home team as -120 favorites and the betting public seemingly agreed with a lot of early action coming in on the hot Halos. Throughout the day however this line has shifted violently in the other direction and we now see the visiting Rays as the favorites. This is telling especially given recent performances. Sharp money has no doubt came in on Tampa and there are severals reasons behind that.

Chris Archer will take the mound for Tampa tonight and he has no doubt established himself as the Ace of this rotation. Despite having just a 5-4 overall record, Archer has been spectacular on the mound. It would be easy to simply look at his overall record and form an assumption based on that, however his record is due mainly to lack of runs support more so than his overall performance. Archer owns an extremely impressive 2.12 ERA and 0.99 WHIP through 11 starts this season. He is what we called a "punch-out" pitcher and is surely becoming one of the best in the game. In just 68 innings of work this season he's accumulated an impressive 82 strikeouts thus far! He has a nearly a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio and is coming off one of his most impressive outings of the season. In his last start, he allowed just 2 hits over 8 shutout innings and tied a career-high with 12 strikeouts! What’s been most impressive about him however is just how well he's has pitched on the road. He has an almost unbelievable 1.55 ERA away from home which dates back to May of last year! If there is one pitcher in the rotation that gives the Rays their very best chance to win, it's Archer and the Angels lineup will certainly have their work cut out for them tonight. 

CJ Wilson will counter for the Angels tonight. Wilson has had somewhat of an up and down season thus far and while he's 3-3 with a respectable 3.18 ERA on the season, he has been struggling somewhat in his recent appearances. In his last 17 innings, Wilson's ERA has ballooned up to 4.76 while his WHIPS increased to an unimpressive 1.7! He's had some issues with his control recently issuing 10 walks in his last 3 starts. Wilson has only issued 21 free passes this season, which means that half have come in his last few outings. It hard to say whether its injury related or not, but this is something that the Rays could use to their advantage at the plate tonight if they can make Wilson pay for his mistakes with his pitches. 

The Rays currently sit at 26-26 on the season and would fall below .500 with a loss. They are also just 1 game back of the Yankees for 1st place in the division so a win tonight would certainly mean a lot for the Rays. Tampa is a team that has thrived on their pitching and defense this season and this is a matchup where we feel it will play towards their advantage. The Rays are 5th in the league in ERA, tied for 3rd in WHIP, tied for 5th in strikeouts per 9 innings with 8.51 and 3rd in the league in fielding percentage with .988. With Archer on the mound, he is the type of pitcher that can give his team 7 quality innings while limiting the damage of the opposing offense. They also have a quality closer in Brad Boxberger, who despite a couple of recent rough outings has been solid on the season. 

The Halos have been on fire over their last few games but we believe Archer will come in and play the role of the spoiler tonight. If the Rays offense can capitalize on a struggling CJ Wilson in the early going and give Archer a lead to work with, then Tampa should be able to stop the Angels win streak and come away with a closely contest victory. This is a ball club that rarely beats itself (only 22 errors on the season) and has solid pitching and fielding. With their best pitcher on the mound, they will look to limit runs, something they've been great at all season having allowed only 186! That is the second lowest mark in the American League and a greatest testament to Rays pitching.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Tampa Bay has won 11 of Archer’s last 13 road starts! 
  • Angels are just 2-14 in Wilson's last 16 starts when listed as an underdog!
  • Angels are only 6-13 at home when the total is set at 7 runs or less over the last 3 seasons.
  • Opponents are batting only .222 against Tampa pitchers which is the lowest against all AL teams!

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