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Picks, predictions for Pirates vs. Rays on Thursday, May 4

Erik Buchinger shares his top picks on DraftKings Sportsbook for Pirates-Rays on Thursday, May 4th.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays (25-6) will go for a sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates (20-11) on Thursday, April 4 at 1:10 p.m. ET from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Tampa Bay has taken the first two games of this matchup between MLB’s two best records with relative ease, and now Pittsburgh will turn to the red-hot Vince Velasquez (4-2, 3.06 ERA) to salvage a win on getaway day. Zach Eflin (3-0, 3.00) starts for the Rays.

The Rays are -195 moneyline favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook, making the Pirates +165 underdogs with the over/under set at eight. My last eight moneyline and over/under picks went 7-1, so let’s make some bets.

Pirates-Rays picks: Thursday, May 4

Injury report


Out: SP Wil Crowe (shoulder), RP Rob Zastryzny (elbow), 1B Ji-Man Choi (Achilles), RP Chase De Jong (back), SS Oneil Cruz (ankle), SP JT Brubaker (elbow), RP Jarlin Garcia (biceps), RP Max Kranick (elbow)


Day to day: SP Josh Fleming (foot)
Out: RP Pete Fairbanks (forearm), RP Jeffrey Springs (elbow), SP Tyler Glasnow (oblique), RP Shawn Armstrong (neck), SP Shane Baz (elbow), RP Andrew Kittredge (elbow)

Starting pitchers

Vince Velasquez vs. Zach Eflin

Velasquez is off to a strong start in his first season with the Pirates and didn’t allow a single run in three of his last four starts — including two in a row. Over his last couple appearances, Velasquez threw 13 scoreless innings with 15 Ks in wins over the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals.

Eflin will make his fifth start in a Rays uniform and is coming off an outing where he gave up two runs on six hits and two walks over five innings of work in a victory over the Chicago White Sox. He allowed seven runs over 21 innings this season.

Over/Under pick

Both offenses are inside the top six in slugging percentage — with the Rays at the top in just about every major offensive statistic — but both pitchers are throwing the ball very well right now. There’s enough of a 2023 sample size for Eflin and Velasquez to be confident in the total falling short on Wednesday afternoon.

Pick: Under 8

Moneyline pick

The Rays have the pitching advantage in this matchup, and you won’t find any team hitting the ball better than Tampa bay this season. The Rays rank at the top of MLB in runs per game (6.7), slugging percentage (.524), on-base percentage (.351) and OPS (.875).

Pick: Rays