Is this the best baseball weekend…ever? It might be. With the new Postseason format, MLB has created it’s own version of March Madness. High stakes baseball from Noon to Midnight Eastern Time. It simply doesn’t get much better than that. Let’s take a look at our MLB Best Bet for the day one of this Wild Card Weekend.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cleveland Guardians: 12:07 pm EST
Shane McClanahan (LHP, Rays) [12-8, 2.54 ERA]
Shane Bieber (RHP, Guardians) [13-8, 2.88 ERA]
Call me square or crazy, but I struggle to see how the Rays are underdogs in this series, let alone this game. They are the better team, and I don’t give a huge edge to home-field advantage when the game is at noon on a weekday. Half the crowd is gonna be on their first cup of coffee.
Shane McClanahan will toe the slab for the Rays, and he is one of the five bets pitchers in baseball. He finished the season with a2.79 xERA, 2.60 xFIP and 3.00 FIP. He allowed just a .248 wOBA against alongside a .261 xwOBA. There isn’t much else to say, he’s elite.
Where my backing of the Rays really comes from is in relation to Shane Bieber. Bieber had himself a very nice season, posting a 2.88 ERA in exactly 200 innings pitched. But a quick peak under the hood gives me some repose.
His xERA sits at a much worse 3.51, while his Hard Hit % is amongst the highest in baseball. He allowed a .262 wOBA against, but a .293 expected and the Rays just faced him ten days ago. In that game, Tampa scratched across four runs on six hits in six innings pitched.
Bieber isn’t going to blow these Rays hitters away, he was only in the 65th percentile in K%. I like the Tampa hitters to do enough off Bieber to put themselves in a good spot to win. The Rays will have a full, elite bullpen at their disposal: Jason Adam, Shawn Armstrong, Drew Rasmussen, Corey Kluber, Pete Fairbanks, Jeffrey Springs and others are all at the Rays disposal today.
The Rays are the better team in this series, grab them as underdogs while you can.