It’s the Tampa Bay Rays at the Cleveland Indians tonight, with the winner advancing to the ALDS. While I’ve predicted the past two games correctly, I feel like this one will be tougher. But, ultimately, I still like the Rays here.
- Pitching, pitching, pitching. Alex Cobb is a better and (slightly) more experienced starter than Danny Salazar, and the Rays bullpen, while tired and sometimes erratic, at least has a defined closer and role players, unlike the by-committee approach that now rules the Indians’ pen.
- Hitting. Team WAR on Fangraphs for the Rays this season was 30.3, behind only the Red Sox. Team WAR for Indians was 21.8, 15th in MLB. Also, Evan Longoria is on fire. That alone can turn the tide of the game.
- Fielding: The Rays have an advantage in most advanced fielding statistics and metrics.
- Momentum: The Rays were playing only two days ago, on Monday. The Indians have been sitting around since Sunday.
- Playoff experience: The Rays have been here before, most (but certainly not all) of the Indians haven’t.
So, I’m predicting a 5-3 Rays victory tonight.