The New York Yankees are set to host the Tampa Bay Rays Monday in the first matchup of a three-game set at Yankee Stadium. With that said, it’s a good time to check out our MLB Odds series, which includes our Rays-Yankees prediction and pick we have laid out below.

New York enters the series with the second-best record in the American League at 72-43, but a 2-8 mark over their last 10 games has hurt the Yankees’ chances to secure home-field advantage past the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Regardless, they still hold a 10-game advantage in the AL East title race.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is 11 games back of New York and third in the division at 60-53. The Rays have won six of their last 10 games and currently sit 1 1/2 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the American League’s final playoff spot.

The Yankees lead the season series 7-3, with this being the first meeting of the second half between the two teams.

Here are the Rays-Yankees MLB odds, courtesy of FanDuel. 

MLB Odds: Rays-Yankees Odds

Tampa Bay Rays: +1.5 (+104)

New York Yankees: -1.5 (-125)

Over: 7.5 (-110)

Under: 7.5 (-110)

Why The Rays Could Cover The Spread

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Clearly, the Yankees have been the superior team over the course of the season. However, that hasn’t been the case since the All-Star break. New York is just 11-19 over its last 30 games, the fourth-worst record in the American League and seventh-worst in all of baseball during this stretch. The Rays’ production has fallen off slightly as well, with a .500 record in their last 30 games, but even with 12 losses in their last 20 games, they’ve still found more success than New York as of late.

Another source of optimism for Tampa Bay is the presence of left-hander Jalen Beeks on the mound. The 29-year-old is having the best season of his MLB career, entering Monday’s matchup with a 2.35 ERA on the year. Typically a reliever, Beeks will fulfill an opener role in this game. This means the Rays’ relievers will have to carry the load, but with their 3.42 bullpen ERA ranking among the top 10 in MLB, this scenario doesn’t create as much concern as it might with other teams.

New York starter Gerrit Cole has been solid for most of 2022, posting a 9-4 record and a 3.38 ERA on the season. However, with a 2-2 mark and 4.20 ERA over his last seven outings, Cole hasn’t lived up to his $36 million salary recently. He has been tagged for at least five earned runs in five of his 15 starts since May 23, making a Tampa Bay first five innings bet at least worth a consideration.

Outfielder Randy Arozarena has led the way at the plate for Tampa Bay over the last month, recording a team-high 17 RBI and four home runs to go along with a .291/.356/.506 slash line. Catcher Francisco Mejía has also been reliable when available, reaching base safely in his last 15 starts while going 4-for-8 with an RBI and a double in wins over Baltimore on Saturday and Sunday.

Why The Yankees Could Cover The Spread

Despite his recent struggles, Cole remains one of the most talented pitchers in the game. He showcased this in his last time out, allowing four hits while striking out eight in seven shutout innings against the Seattle Mariners. Giving up the long ball is where he has gotten into trouble, something he has done in six of his last nine starts, but he has been sound for the most part when he’s able to avoid this. He has allowed one run or less in six of his last seven starts in which he doesn’t give up a home run. Considering Tampa Bay’s 102 homers are the seventh-fewest in the MLB, there’s reason to feel confident about Cole’s chances today.

Meanwhile, for as strong as Beeks has been out of the bullpen, he hasn’t had as much luck when fulfilling an opener role. He has allowed four earned runs in 10 2/3 innings as a starter, which is respectable, but also more than a run higher than ERA figures for the season. Even if he’s able to shut down the Yankees in the early going, Rays relievers have still pitched 12 1/3 innings over their last three games.

While New York ranks outside the top 10 in MLB in OPS, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and runs scored since the All-Star break, its 35 home runs are still tied for the most in baseball during this stretch. And even with their recent shortcomings, the Yankees still lead the American League in runs scored, OPS, slugging percentage and on-base percentage for the season, with their 192 home runs being 15 more than any other MLB team and 33 more than the second-ranked AL foe.

Final Rays-Yankees Prediction & Pick

If Tampa Bay’s bullpen wasn’t so worn out, the Rays might have some value on both the moneyline and run line in this game. However, with an opener situation in which it’s unlikely Beeks goes past the second inning, it’s tough to feel confident taking them in a full-game wager. Therefore, taking the Yankees on the run line — and holding out hope Cole doesn’t blow up in the early innings — is the play here.

Final Rays-Yankees Prediction & Pick: Yankees -1.5 (-125)