Cleveland (A Plutko) (@2.62) vs Tampa Bay (C Morton) (@1.47)
01-09-2019

Our Prediction:

Tampa Bay (C Morton) will win
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Cleveland (A Plutko) – Tampa Bay (C Morton) Match Prediction | 01-09-2019 13:10

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So what does that mean for the Browns? After two-and-a-half games of general ineptitude, this week provides a prime opportunity to get the offense back in gear. Nick Chubb should be a good test to find out if Tampa Bays run defense is for real, and even with the limitations at wide receiver, there should be plays to be made for Baker Mayfield in the passing game.

OF Tommy Pham: After spending the majority of his career with the Cardinals, Tommy Pham found himself with Tampa Bay last season, and 2019 marks his first full season with the Rays. He needs one more home run to hit the 20-dinger mark, which would give him three consecutive seasons with at least 20 home runs. All in all, a great season for Pham so far. Despite the team (and league) change, Pham continues to be a fantastic bat in the lineup that hes in. Across 547 plate appearances in 121 games, Pham is slashing .272/.373/.457 (wRC+ 123). Hes also walking at a fantastic clip (13.2%) and has brought his strikeout rate down to 19.0%, down from 24.6% a year ago.

mlb Matchup Report

Indians OF Bradley Zimmer (right shoulder), RHP Danny Salazar (right shoulder), RHP Mike Clevinger (terres major muscle), RHP Corey Kluber (right ulna bone) and RF Tyler Naquin are on the injured list. Injured list: Rays LHP Anthony Bando (left elbow), C Anthony Bemboom (left knee); RHP Jose DeLeon (right elbow), 3B Matt Duffy (left hamstring), RHP Tyler Glasgow (right forearm), C Michael Perez (right oblique), 2B Joey Wendle (right wrist) and C Mike Zunino (left quad) are on the disabled list. C Roberto Perez (concussion) is day to day.

This weekend, the Indians face off against the Rays, a team that is 1.5 games out of a Wild Card spot coming into this series. Unfortunately, the Twins have also been dominant, so the Tribe hasnt really gained any ground in the AL Central race. You couldnt ask for a better performance against the Detroit Tigers by the Cleveland Indians. A dominant sweep has put them in the drivers seat for the AL Wild Card.

We're a bit puzzled why the line on this game got steamed so far toward Tampa Bay. Yea, Plutko isn't great, but both teams are a bit iffy with the sticks at the moment, and both bullpens are pretty good. We see betting value here with the home dog, so we're going with Cleveland for our free MLB pick for Thursday.

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Austin Pruitt has worked exclusively in relief this season, often being used as the primary pitcher following an opener. This will be the first time in 2019 that Pruitt will start the game on the mound for the Rays. The Rays are hoping he can replicate his work from a few weeks ago against the Padres when he only gave up one run in 4 innings. But so far in 2019, things arent going well for Pruitt; across 32.1 innings in 10 appearances, Pruitt has allowed 20 earned runs while walking 9 and striking out 27 (ERA+ 81). Hes got a good groundball fastball (92 mph) that he pairs with a groundball slider (87 mph) and a groundball change (86 mph). His most recent appearance came on August 24 against the Orioles; in that game, Pruitt went 5.2 innings in relief and allowed 6 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 6. Hell also use a looping 12-6 curve (82 mph).