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The Rays and Reds begin a three-game interleague series in Cincinnati tonight, and MLB expert Mike Spector weighs in with his two best prop plays for the opener.

Tampa Bay Rays vs Cincinnati Reds Best Bet: Will Shane McClanahan Cool Down the Reds' Bats?

An interleague matchup between the 45-win Tampa Bay Rays and 28-win Cincinnati Reds may not be the biggest draw on Friday’s MLB slate. Still, plenty more eyes will be drawn to this matchup than they usually would, given the star-studded pitching duel in this game.

At FanDuel Sportsbook, Tampa Bay lefty Shane McClanahan is currently the favorite at +250 odds to win the American League Cy Young Award. And while his counterpart in today’s matchup likely will not be receiving any Cy Young votes, Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo has been rock solid after a slow start.

What does all this mean for tonight’s game?

Read on for our best play for Friday’s interleague series opener between the Rays and Reds.

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Reds vs. Rays Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

  • Date: July 8, 2022
  • Game Time: 6:40 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: ESPN+

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Reds vs. Rays Line Movement

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cincinnati Reds Prediction

Shane McClanahan’s (9-3, 1.74) ERA, 0.81 WHIP, .179 OBA, and 133 strikeouts are all the best of any American League pitcher. And even though his xERA is slightly worse at 2.21 xERA, it still ranks among the league’s best. In addition, McClanahan strikes out a whopping nearly 36% of hitters, and when batters do put the ball in play against him, they produce a hard-hit average of 31.2%. 

Tampa Bay’s odds in this matchup are relatively muted compared to what they could be with a pitcher of McClanahan’s caliber on the mound, as Cincinnati has raked against left-handed pitching over the last 30 days. The Reds have the highest wRC+ (129) against southpaws of any National League team (rank seventh overall) in that span, and they strike out the 18th-fewest percent of the time, with a K rate of 21.3%. That is a big reason the over is 5-0 in Cincinnati’s last five games against a left-handed starting pitcher. However, throw these trends with a pitcher the caliber of McClanahan out the window, and he has even more of the advantage since no current Reds hitter has ever faced him.

These are all reasons we expect this game to be a pitcher’s duel, as is the fact that Luis Castillo (3-4, 3.09) pitched to a 2.49 ERA and has 48 strikeouts in his last 43.1 innings (spanning seven starts). Castillo has faced four top-scoring offenses in the majors in that span, yet only the Dodgers were able to plate more than one run against him in those outings. His name has already surfaced as one that teams will heavily be after at the trade deadline, so Castillo is motivated to pitch another gem.

We are limiting our wager to just the first five innings total as Cincinnati’s bullpen has an atrocious 5.65 ERA and 4.60 xFIP (both dead-last in the league). In addition, we are tacking on a bet on the under for Cincinnati’s team total, as we do not expect its success against lefties to continue against the Cy Young frontrunner.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cincinnati Reds Picks

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Article Author


Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest


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