The Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays had somewhat similar seasons. The Rays came out of the gates hot, setting a Modern Era record with a 13-0 start. The hot stretch continued for most of the first half of the season. They were the first team to 50 wins, but the team didn't continue its MLB domination over the second half of the year, and they are stuck playing in the Wild Card Series. The Rangers also had a great start, but like the Rays, they weren't able to capture their division title. Now, the two teams will face each other in the MLB Playoffs. Below is everything that you need to know about watching the AL Wild Card Series.
When and where is the AL Wild Card Series?
The Rangers and Rays play a best-of-three matchup entirely at Tampa Bay's home stadium, Tropicana Field. The first game of the back-to-back-to-back games is on Oct. 3. All of the games in the series will start at 3:08 p.m. ET.
How to watch Rangers vs. Rays
The entire Rangers vs. Rays series will be airing on ABC. The games can also be lived-streamed using fuboTV or MLB.TV. The series will start out the nightly action as the first game each day of the Wild Card Series.
Dates: Game 1: Oct. 3, 3:08 p.m. ET – Game 2: Oct. 4. 3:08 p.m. ET – Game 3: Oct. 5, 3:08 p.m. ET
Location: Tropicana Field — St. Petersburg, Fla.
TV channel: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (click for a free trial)
Odds: Rays -170 to win the series
There are a lot of similarities between the Rangers and Rays' 2023 seasons. While they both started great, a big reason for their fall-offs was because they lost key contributors. For the Rangers, this came in the form of most of their elite pitchers. Their first big loss happened when Jacob deGrom went down with a torn UCL. The injury required Tommy John surgery and shut down his season.
While deGrom was the team's ace, Jon Gray was meant to be a top-end starter for the team. He just landed on the 15-day injured list and will miss at least the first two rounds of MLB Postseason action. Max Scherzer was even traded for in order to replace deGrom, but Scherzer got hurt as well. Scherzer was shut down for the end of the regular season, but the team remains hopeful that he can return at some point in the playoffs.
The injuries have eaten the Rangers' depth away, and they will now rely on Jordan Montgomery — another trade deadline acquisition — to be their top pitching option in the playoffs.
The Rangers do have an impressive offensive lineup. Corey Seager and Marcus Semien form one of the best middle infields in baseball. The team is also sure to see a motivated Nathaniel Lowe. The first baseman has struggled recently, batting .165 over his final 30 games. Lowe will be motivated to end his slump, and he might get the spark to do so by playing his brother, Josh Lowe, an outfielder for Tampa Bay. Texas will most likely need the offense to carry the team to victory if they are able to come away victorious.
The Rays' major loss of the season wasn't due to injury. They lost their top player, Wander Franco, because of disturbing off-field allegations that MLB is currently investigating. A combination of Osleivis Basabe, Junior Caminero, and Taylor Walls have been Franco's replacements at shortstop, the former two of whom were promoted to the MLB roster after Franco's controversies broke the news.
The team has had enough offensive firepower to somewhat replace Franco's production. Yandy Diaz is fourth in MLB in batting average (.330), one of nine players above the .300 mark. The squad also has Randy Arozarena, one of the biggest stars in MLB and a player who proved in the World Baseball Classic that he can turn his game up to another level when the lights are brightest. They are two of six Rays players with over 20 home runs this season. Isaac Peredes led the way with 31 long bombs.
Like the Rangers, the Rays lost their ace to a season-ending Tommy John surgery. Shane McClanahan was in the midst of his second All-Star season before receiving the devastating news. Tyler Glasnow is a great replacement, but the loss of arguably the two best players on the team limits the Rays' ceiling this year.
Both teams will fight through this Wild Card Series with bumps and bruises. They are beat up and not playing their best baseball of the year, but luckily for the both of them, they are playing each other. Someone will come away victorious, and both teams have had winning stretches of baseball in 2023, meaning it is possible one of these teams rediscovers that magic and makes a run deep into the postseason. With depleted pitching staffs, expect a high-scoring series.