Baseball's former top prospect more than lived up to the hype in his first season, including in the ALDS
Tampa Bay Rays infielder Wander Franco slammed a two-run homer in the sixth inning to help the Tampa Bay Rays cut the Boston Red Sox lead to 5-3.
The MLB playoffs continue in full swing on Monday as we have our second four-game slate of the postseason.Let's look at the best way to attack the slate headlined by a couple of elimination contests.Bet: Los Angeles Dodgers F5 -0.5 (-122)This game sets up nicely for the Dodgers on both sides of the ball.Max Scherzer is set to take the hill. He's consistently been one of the game's best pitchers and yet the 37-year-old has kicked things up a notch since the trade to Los Angeles.He's sporting a perfect 7-0 record and has posted downright absurd numbers. Scherzer owns a 1.98 ERA, 1.95 FIP, and is remarkably striking out 11.13 batters for every hitter he walks. He's also keeping the ball in the park, having conceded only five homers in more than 68 innings. Teams have to scratch and claw for every run against him.While that is sort of the MO for the San Francisco Giants, I like Scherzer's chances of slowing the Giants down in his first matchup of the season against them.I also expect the Dodgers to do some damage with the sticks, at least with Alex Wood in the game. The Dodgers have absolutely mashed lefties, particularly of late. They rank second in the majors in ISO at home since the beginning of August.They're hitting for a ton of power. They don't need many chances to do damage, either, as they rank first in homers per fly ball during that time. If Wood gives up hard contact through the air, there's a good chance it leaves the park.While Wood has done a much better job of keeping the ball down this season - par for the course in San Francisco - he's still struggled against the Dodgers.Wood allowed five homers in 17 innings against Los Angeles during the regular season. That's 2.65 per nine innings, a far cry from his season average of 0.91 per nine.The best point of attack for Los Angeles in this game is to hit a long ball or two off Wood and have Scherzer lock things down, allowing them to take a lead into the final innings.I don't have much interest in a full-game play. The Giants have a loaded bullpen and, since the beginning of September, have done a better job stranding runners on base than every team in the majors.Bet: Tampa Bay Rays (+102)The Rays find themselves in a do-or-die situation in Boston against the Red Sox. That's far from ideal for a team planning a bullpen game, especially on the surface. Tampa Bay asked eight different pitchers to get at least three outs only a day ago.If you dig a little deeper, the state of the bullpen doesn't appear as bad. Five of the arms used threw 16 pitches or fewer. Three threw 12 or fewer. It's not as if they're all scratched off the "available for use" list.And, quite frankly, I don't expect the Rays to need perfect innings from their relievers in this one. I think they're going to win on the back of their offense. Tampa Bay absolutely feasts on left-handed pitching. They had some struggles earlier in the year, but the emergence of Wander Franco - and the addition of Nelson Cruz - drastically changed things.The Rays led the majors in wRC+ (139) against lefties from August onward. They hit for power, slotting fifth in ISO - only the Toronto Blue Jays were able to get on base more often.I expect them to cause a lot of problems for projected starter Eduardo Rodriguez. They have all season.E-Rod has conceded 13 runs (11 earned) in just 21 innings against the Rays this season. Given Tampa Bay's prowess against left-handed arms, there's not much reason to expect anything different in this one.Back the Rays to force a Game 5.Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.
The Tampa Bay Rays jumped to an early 2-0 lead over the Boston Red Sox in game one of the ALDS behind an RBI-double by Wander Franco. Yandy Diaz added an RBI-single later in the inning.