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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:57 PM

Monday's Best Bet

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Monday MLB Betting Preview
Tampa Bay vs San Diego

On a light nine-game slate in MLB today, it's a very light one for NL teams as there are only two straight up contests between NL foes, while two other National League teams are starting three-game interleague sets out on the west coast.

It's San Diego hosting Tampa Bay that I'm looking at today, as the Padres look to continue to build a winning culture for the future, while Tampa Bay aims to hold onto their position as one of the two AL Wildcard teams. The Rays hold a 1.5-game lead over Oakland for that final playoff spot, and right now it's looking like it will be a three-team race between themselves, Oakland, and Cleveland/Minnesota -whomever doesn't end up winning the AL Central.

Tampa's definitely in decent enough shape there, and with each of their next four series coming against losing teams, and in some cases very bad teams (San Diego, Detroit, Seattle, Baltimore), now's the time for the Rays to pad/build upon that Wildcard lead as the end of the month sees them square off with Houston and Cleveland. Can they get the job done tonight?

MLB Odds: Tampa Bay (+119) vs Seattle (-129); Total set at 8

The Rays took advantage of a much weaker opponent over the weekend as they swept away the Mariners in Seattle, winning the final two games by a single run. Winning tight games like that is how you advance in October, but against these lesser quality foes, the Rays would definitely prefer more cushion. But wins are still wins no matter how they come, and having won eight of their past 10 and 12 of their past 15, winning is something the Rays have been doing a lot of lately.

Which is why seeing them as basically a +120 underdog tonight is a bit surprising, as the Padres are a bit better than most losing teams in the league this year. But in mid-August it's hard to debate the notion that “you are what your record says you are” and in San Diego's case that means they are a team that's seven games below the .500 mark overall, and one that's three games below the .500 mark at home. Matched up against a Rays team that's done the bulk of their damage this year away from the nearly deserted Tropicana Field – Tampa is 38-22 SU on the road – I had this line closer to the pick'em range initially.

The betting market has already seen some action come the Rays way as the line actually opened up closer to the +130 number, and it's tough to argue against that move. Yes, San Diego is going with Joey Lucchesi, and the guy who mimics Clayton Kershaw out there is definitely highly thought of within the organization, but he's still a guy searching for that type of stuff that helps win games. The Padres have dropped each of his last five starts, and seven of his past eight overall, and while Lucchesi is definitely not to blame for some of them – two of the last three defeats have come by 2-1 and 3-2 scores – the team behind him can never seemingly overcome that one extra mistake he makes.

If it's a single mistake for Luchhesi the Padres can't hit a lick, and if it's multiple ones – like say 11-10 or 6-5 losses to Pittsburgh and the Cubs in this streak – the Padres bats tend to come up one hit short as well. Eventually that probably starts to even out and work out for San Diego in the near future, but at a -130ish price tag against a playoff-bound team that's got the best road record in baseball, I believe you can only really look at fading the Padres once again in this role.

Tampa's won seven in a row away from home, are 4-1 SU in their last five against a southpaw, and aren't that phased by losing the DH as they are on a 5-1 SU run in National League parks. With the Padres 0-4 SU in Luchhesi's last four starts against a winning team, 1-5 SU as a team in their last six against a winning team, and 3-8 SU in their last 11 series openers, even if Tampa Bay turns into a bit of a 'public underdog' this evening, as long as the price is north of +110, it's one you've got to back.

Best Bet: Tampa Bay ML

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