The Washington Nationals head to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, to meet the Tampa Bay Rays for the first time this season, so I’ve prepared the best Nats vs. Rays betting pick for the opening clash of a two-game series set for Tuesday, June 7.
The Nationals are listed as +167 underdogs for Tuesday’s opener, while the Rays are -180 moneyline favorites with a total of 7.0 runs on FanDuel Sportsbook. Tampa has won ten of its last 18 matchups with Washington, but the Nationals won their last season’s four-game series against the Rays, 3-1.
The Nats sit bottom of the NL East
The Washington Nationals have dropped eight of their last 11 games overall. They fell to 24-32 on the season following a heavy 12-6 defeat at Philadelphia this past Sunday, so the Nationals entered the Rays series as the worst team in the National League East.
Washington struggles at the plate, scoring just 3.84 runs per contest (25th in the majors). The Nationals’ batting average of .247 is the sixth-best in the MLB, but they are slugging only .385 (21st). Over the last two weeks, the Nats have recorded a poor .206 batting average along with the second-worst OPS in baseball (.599).
Jon Lester will get the starting nod Tuesday, and the 37-year-old southpaw is 0-2 with a 4.37 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in seven starts this season. Lester is 13-11 with a 4.47 ERA in his 30 career starts against Tampa, but the lefty hasn’t met the Rays since 2017.
The Rays lead the way in the AL East
The Tampa Bay Rays just finished a seven-game road trip with a 7-1 victory over the Texas Rangers this past Sunday. It was their third win in the last four outings and 16th in their previous 20 games overall, as the 38-23 Rays are topping the AL East standings, one game ahead of the Boston Red Sox.
Tampa is tallying 4.95 runs per game (tied-4th in the MLB) while slashing .229/.315/.392. The Rays’ batting average is way below the league average, but Tampa has slugged 73 home runs thus far (11th) along with 109 doubles (3rd). Still, over the last 15 days, the Rays have recorded the fifth-worst OPS in the majors (.644).
Tyler Glasnow will toe the slab Tuesday, and the 27-year-old right-hander is 4-2 with a 2.69 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 12 starts this season. He owns a terrific 106/25 K/BB ratio across 77 frames of work, but Glasnow’s last four starts ended in a no-decision. Tyler is 1-0 with a 7.53 ERA in a couple of career starts and three relief appearances against the Nationals.
- 3-8 in the last 11 games overall
- 2-7 in the last nine road games against Tampa
- 16-4 in the last 20 games overall
- 8-1 in the last nine games at home
The Nationals have been playing poorly for most of the season, and with Jon Lester on the mound, I don’t think they’ll manage to upset the odds at The Trop. While the Nationals’ offense continues to struggle, their bullpen sports the 15th-highest ERA in baseball (4.21).
On the other side, the Rays’ relievers own the fourth-lowest ERA of 3.27, and I think they’ll produce enough run support to help Tyler Glasnow earn his first win since May 8. The Rays haven’t been at their best offensively as of late, but they should get things going against the Nationals’ pitching staff.
Pick: Take Tampa Bay Rays at -180
Jon Lester has allowed just one earned run in each of his previous two starts, but both these games produced more than seven runs in total. I don’t trust the veteran lefty, as he’s had a few awful displays so far this season.
Tyler Glasnow could torture the Nationals’ offense, though the righty has yielded three or more earned runs in four of his last six appearances. The current Nationals are batting .388 and slugging .508 against Glasnow, while the current Rays are batting .461 and slugging .683 against Lester, so I’m going with the over.
Pick: Go over 7.0 runs at -120