The Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays are set to do battle in the best-of-three American League Wild Card Series, which gets started on Tuesday afternoon. Because the Rays are higher seed, they'll host all the games of this series. Despite their wild-card status, the Rays come in as one of the very best teams in baseball. They banked 99 wins while playing in baseball's toughest division, and their run differential of plus-195 is tops in the AL. As for the Rangers, they're part of the postseason for the first time since 2016. Being a wild-card team, however, has to be a disappointment.
They spent 160 days in first place in the AL West, but they ceded the division title to the rival Astros on the final day of the regular season thanks to tiebreaker rules. So while the Astros get a first-round bye, the Rangers -- with the same regular-season record as Houston -- must cross swords with the mighty Rays in the Wild Card Series.
, and . Now, let's get to the important stuff for Game 1.
Rays vs. Rangers schedule
- Game 1: Rays vs. Rangers, 3:08 p.m. ET
- Game 2: Rays vs. Rangers, 3:08 p.m. ET
- Game 3*: Rays vs. Rangers, 3:08 p.m. ET or 7:08 p.m. ET or 8:08 p.m. ET
How to watch Game 1
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 3 | Time: 3:08 p.m. ET
Location: Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
TV channel: ABC | Live stream: fubo (try for free)
Odds: TEX +130 | TB -155 | O/U: 7.5
Starting pitchers: LHP Jordan Montgomery (4-2, 2.79 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Glasnow (10-7, 3.53 ERA)
Rays vs. Rangers odds
- Series odds: TB -180 | TEX +152
- Game 1 odds: TEX +130 | TB -155 | O/U: 7.5
Consider this to be one of the most compelling pitching matchups of the opening round. Montgomery has excelled since the Rangers acquired him from the Cardinals leading up to the trade deadline, and if you throw in his work with St. Louis this season then he has a 138 across 188 2/3 innings this season. Those are ace-like results. Across the way, Glasnow since returning from injury has ridden his top-shelf stuff to a strikeout percentage of 33.4 and an FIP of 2.91 in 21 starts -- numbers that make him a dominator at a fundamental level.
All that said, these are two of the best offenses around. The Rangers this season ranked third in MLB when it comes to OPS versus right-handed pitchers, of which Glasnow is one. Montgomery is a lefty, and the Rays in 2023 ranked sixth in MLB in OPS against lefties. This all makes for a compelling clash of strengths.
The Rays have a big edge in the bullpen, and we'll say that makes the difference in the late innings of Game 1.
Pick: Rays 5, Rangers 3