The MLB is nearing the end of its historic season, but first, there is the matter of crowning a new World Series champion. Today the AL’s top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays will take on the NL’s top-ranked Los Angeles Dodgers in a best of seven series to determine who will be baseball’s last team standing (Game 1: 8.10pm ET Tuesday; TV: Live on Fox).
Here USAbetting gives our World Series preview, with today’s Game 1 predictions as well as series’ betting picks.
The Case for Tampa Bay Rays
It was a memorable regular season for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Florida-based team entered the year considered to be the second best in the AL East behind the New York Yankees. After 60 games, it was the Rays that stood tall, winning just their third-ever divisional title and first in 10 years. This led Tampa to the playoffs where the Rays picked up series wins against the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees before reaching the ALCS to face the defending AL pennant holders, the Houston Astros. Over the first three games of the series, the Rays made it look easy, getting off to a 3-0 lead. That’s when Tampa had to put in the real work as the Astros battled back to even the series and force a game seven. With the Rays’ top big game starter, Charlie Morton, on the mound, Tampa overcame the Astros bid to make history, winning just their second-ever pennant in the process.
Contributions from all over the lineup has been the story of the Rays postseason with unlikely heroes emerging each time. Guys like Mike Brosseau, Manuel Margot and Gi Man Choi all came up with big hits when called upon. Not to mention, the star of Tampa’s postseason and one of the best players this Fall overall, rookie sensation Randy Arozarena. Hitting .281 in the regular season, Arozarena went on a tear when the playoffs began. He leads the Rays in runs, hits, home runs, extra base hits and batting average, which sits at .382. Arozarena’s 21 postseason hits and seven home runs leads all players this year.
Tampa also found strength in their starting rotation, which features three of their pitchers ranked in the top five of MLB this postseason in terms of wins. Their bullpen also sits two of the top five in saves. It is hard to count the Rays out of any game where Blake Snell, Charlie Morton or World Series game one starter, Tyler Glasnow, are concerned. The Rays’ rotation is balanced and set up in such a way where a three-man unit has found great success. Should this series go another seven games, you’ll no doubt see Morton, Snell and Glasnow on the mound twice with Glasnow possibly even getting three starts depending on how things go.
The Reasons for LA Dodgers
Due to the parity in baseball and the unpredictable nature and often outcomes, of the MLB postseason, it is rare to see a team do what the LA Dodgers did in 2020. From proverbially bell to bell, the Dodgers led MLB, never once looking back or even over their shoulders. The co-World Series favorite according to the major Americans sportsbooks’ preseason odds, LA lived up to all the lofty expectations, easily winning their eighth NL West title in a row. This led LA back to the playoffs where the Dodgers felt they had unfinished business. One of the best regular season teams of the last decade, LA has no hardware to show for it, last winning the World Series in 1988. It is hard to believe given how good the Dodgers have been during the regular season but in the playoffs, there has certainly been a monkey on the team’s back. In 2020, armed with fresh knowledge that they were cheated out of a championship due to the Astros’ scandal, LA entered the playoffs with a chip on their shoulder. Feeling it has been their title to win, the Dodgers opened the playoffs by taking out the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres before facing another team in the midst of a championship drought, the Atlanta Braves. It was the inverse of what happened with Tampa. The Dodgers were the ones who needed to come back from a 3-1 deficit in order to win their third pennant in the last four seasons and 24th pennant all-time.
One of the scariest elements of this Dodgers team is their pure depth. Because against the Braves, LA’s bats were largely silent save for one massive 11-run inning. Known as one of the best hitting teams in baseball, the Dodgers didn’t exactly have their best effort from the plate in the NLCS. However, they found clutch and timely hitting when they needed it, from no shortage of stars including the post season’s hottest hitter, Corey Seager. Behind just Carlos Correa, Seager has 15 RBI this playoffs and had four home runs in the LCS alone. He wasn’t the only Dodger to make an impact. Much like Tampa, LA’s heroes came from all over as at times guys like Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner and of course, offseason acquisition Mookie Betts, all had big hits.
From the mound, the Dodgers hit some road blocks. Walker Buehler continued to look like a fine playoff starter, working in and out of trouble in a dominant way. Buehler, set to take the mound in game three for LA, had perhaps his finest moment when in game six, he escaped a bases loaded no out situation without surrendering a single run. This helped spur LA’s victory, which advanced them to the do-or-die game seven. Taking the mound for the Dodgers in game one is more of a question mark. Over the course of his career, Clayton Kershaw has been the best southpaw in baseball, with Cy Young trophies to back up his performances. The one knock against Kershaw is his inability to come up big in the big games. Kershaw’s 2020 playoffs began strong before an injury forced his LCS start to be pushed back. When Kershaw finally did take the mound, he struggled in classic form. There is no bigger game for Kershaw than the first game of this year’s World Series as LA needs their ace to be exactly that.
Game 1 & Series: Tampa Bay Rays vs LA Dodgers Predictions & World Series’ Picks Verdict
An expansion team looking for their first ring. An NL powerhouse looking to overcome postseason woes. That is what is at stake here as the Rays take on the Dodgers, starting today. As outlined in this preview, both teams certainly have made their cases to getting to this point. Their resumes speak for themselves. The smallest of things separate these two teams and it could very well come down to the little things.
For LA, they are putting their trust in Kershaw. Will this finally be the start where he looks himself? If the Dodgers win game one, it will be a nice confidence booster as coming back from large playoff deficits is rare to happen once, let alone twice. As for Tampa, they likely won’t feel entirely safe even with a game one win, but that’s the outcome they’ll be looking for behind Glasnow.
For the series, we are going to pick the Rays to win in six with a game one victory to start things off. So here are our Game 1 World Series predictions:
- Bet Tampa Bay +1.5 on the runline to win Game 1 @ best odds of -125 with Bovada. It is -130 with BetOnline or Intertops and -132 with Bookmaker. The Rays are biggest at +157 on the moneyline with the last three named sportsbooks.
- Expect the Rays to land the series too, which can be bet @ top odds of +184 with Bookmaker.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.