The Philadelphia Phillies fell once again in a low-scoring 3-1 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays at Citizens Bank Park last night, wasting a dynamic performance from starter Ranger Suarez. Luckily, for Philadelphia, the Atlanta Braves (as well as every team ahead of Philly in the National League Wild Card) chase each lost yesterday, meaning the Phillies did lose any ground in their postseason pursuit.

Let’s check out tonight’s matchup with our Rays vs. Phillies pick and prediction.

Rays vs. Phillies Prediction (August 25, 2021)

The number of games remaining to catch Atlanta (or the three teams ahead of the Phils for the second Wild Card spot) has now shrunk to 37, however, narrowing the team’s already slim margin for error down the stretch.

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Philadelphia will send ace, Zack Wheeler to the mound to try to earn a series split against lefty Ryan Yarbrough. Interestingly, this is the same pitching matchup from May 29 of this season when the Rays beat the Phillies by a 5-3 score in Tampa — despite 14 strikeouts by Wheeler across seven innings.

Wheeler’s teams have lost both of his career starts against the Rays, but there is still reason to be optimistic for the Phillies tonight.

For starters, that 14-strikeout performance showed a level of dominance against a Rays team that strikes out more than any other team in MLB for the second season in a row. Current Tampa hitters are just 12-for-53 (.226) lifetime against Wheeler, with just one home run and three walks against 22 strikeouts.

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Rays vs. Phillies Odds

Let’s take a quick look at the current Rays vs. Phillies betting odds, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook:

Team Odds Moneyline Total
Rays +1.5 (-165) +120 O 8.5 (-110)
Phillies -1.5 (+145) -140 U 8.5 (-110)

Furthermore, Wheeler is dominant at home. He sports a 2.25 ERA and 0.83 WHIP at Citizens Bank Park this season with opponents hitting just .191 against him. The Phillies are 9-6 in his home starts which is solid, given they score less than four runs per game for him at home.

Despite going just 1-2 in his last three starts, Wheeler has still managed to produce an absurd 0.74 WHIP across those outings. The last time the Phillies right-hander took the mound after his team lost his last two starts, he threw eight shutout innings, allowing four hits, while striking out 12 in a victory over Atlanta.

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From a team perspective, Philadelphia has to feel fortuitous to still be hanging onto relevance despite the team’s poor run of play. Knowing they have their best arm on the hill tonight ahead of 10 straight games against teams all owning sub .440 win percentages should be an easy mental edge.  Heck, the Phillies should know that only two of their remaining 11 series are against above .500 teams, one of which is the team they are chasing for the division crown. Win tonight and who knows what could shake out in the month to come?

Perhaps making the team a bit more optimistic here is Rhys Hoskins is expected to be in the lineup. Hoskins seems to be the team’s offensive talisman, as they managed just 2.73 runs per game in the last fifteen games without him, but piled up seven during his return Sunday in the victory over San Diego.

Yarbrough may face a Phillies team that is just 18-21 against left-handed starters this season, but the 29-year-old will have to overcome his 5.23 ERA in night games this season to beat Wheeler a second time this season.

For a team with the best record in the American League and so many positive trends working in its favor, it is worth pointing out that Tampa is just 1-7 in the team’s last eight road games with a total set between 7-8.5. The Rays  are also just 3-7 in their last 10 games at Citizens Bank Park. And for as poor as Philadelphia has been in interleague play this season (6-10), they are still 5-2 in their last seven interleague home games against above .500 opposition.

Rays vs. Phillies Betting Prediction

After the help the Phillies got last night, tonight feels like a chance to turn things around for this team and perhaps make a run against a soft schedule down the stretch. Expect Wheeler to be at his best and the offense to ride Hoskins to enough runs to get the win and earn the split.

Our Pick: Philadelphia -140



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