The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays will conclude their three-game series at Tropicana Field on Sunday afternoon. With that said, it’s a good time to check out our MLB odds series, which includes a Yankees-Rays prediction and pick, laid out below.
The Yankees have stumbled a bit recently, falling to a 79-54 record, just four games ahead of the Rays in the AL East. An ice cold offense is to blame for their recent hiccups, as the Yankees have produced some of the worst offensive numbers in baseball since August 1st. What was once a comfortable 15.5 game lead has now evaporated, and the pressure on New York will intensity during the season’s stretch run.
Tampa Bay has taken advantage of those hiccups, with a 74-57 record good for second place in the AL East and first place in the AL Wild Card race. Once again, the Rays have been getting it done in unconventional ways and from a host of different players.
Here are the Yankees-Rays MLB odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
MLB Odds: Yankees-Rays Odds
New York Yankees: -1.5 (+138)
Tampa Bay Rays: +1.5 (-166)
Over: 7 (-110)
Under: 7 (-110)
Why The Yankees Could Cover The Spread
New York will send their biggest trade deadline acquisition, Frankie Montas, to the mound in this one. Montas has largely underperformed in his five starts with New York, with a 7.01 ERA in 25.2 innings. In his two good starts, Montas has combined for 10.2 innings with just four earned runs and ten strikeouts. Still, Montas’ splitter is as lethal as ever, holding batters to a .184 batting average and accounting for 56 of his 129 strikeouts. Also encouraging is Montas’ low walk rate of 6.5%, his best rate since 2019.
The good news for the Yankees? Behind Montas sits one of baseball’s best bullpens, despite some recent injuries. New York ranks second with a 3.06 bullpen ERA. Lefty Wandy Peralta has quietly enjoyed a great season, with a 2.72 ERA in 49.2 innings. Peralta has pitched in a multitude of roles due to teammates going in and out of the lineup. Lucas Luetge has also filled multiple roles, with a 2.68 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 47 innings. Rookie Ron Marinaccio possesses one of the filthiest changeups in the league, holding batters to a .109 batting average against. Marinaccio has a 1.82 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 34.2 innings. Closer Clay Holmes is back, and has supposedly remedied the issues that plagued him early in the summer.
New York’s offense has struggled of late, but should be fine moving forward. Aaron Judge has played better than anyone could have expected in a walk year, with 52 home runs, 114 RBIs, 15 stolen bases and a .296 batting average. With Anthony Rizzo currently seeing a back specialist, first base duties have fallen to DJ Lemahieu, who is battling a toe injury. Lemahieu has hit .265 with 12 home runs and 18 doubles, walking 65 times with just 70 strikeouts. Giancarlo Stanton has struggled since his return from the injured list, but still has 24 home runs in his 88 games.
New York leads the league with 206 home runs and 504 walks, and are fourth with 653 runs scored.
Why The Rays Could Cover The Spread
Tampa Bay will go with an opener in the series finale, sending Shawn Armstrong to the mound. Armstrong is a veteran right-handed reliever, averaging about 95 mph on his fastballs. Armstrong struggled with the Miami Marlins early in the year, but has been great with Tampa Bay, registering a 3.73 ERA in 41 innings, striking out 47 batters. In his only other “open,” Armstrong fired three shutout innings.
Ryan Yarbrough is expected to pitch the bulk of the innings in this one. The soft-tossing lefty has appeared in 16 games, making nine starts and pitching to a 4.87 ERA. Despite below-average velocity, Yarbrough limits hard contact, with his average exit velocity ranking in the 96th percentile. Although the Rays are a bit untraditional, they may have found a closer in Jason Adam. Adam has pitched in 59 games, registering a 1.30 ERA in 55.1 innings with 68 strikeouts and eight saves. Not bad for a 31-year old with 78.1 career innings before this year.
Tampa Bay’s offense has had to endure injuries to various players throughout the season, but reinforcements are on the way.
Wander Franco, the shortstop of the future, is expected back within the next two weeks. Randy Arozarena and Isaac Paredes both led the team with 18 home runs, while Arozarena paces the Rays with 70 RBIs and 27 stolen bases. Yandy Diaz has hit a team-leading 31 doubles, walking 70 times compared to just 50 strikeouts. Diaz has slashed .288/.396/.421 on the season, playing both infield corners well, and has been worth 3.3 WAR according to Baseball Reference. Ji-Man Choi has always mashed righties, and specifically righties who pitch for the Yankees. All nine of Choi’s home runs have come off right-handed pitchers this season, and he is in the lineup this afternoon.
Final Yankees-Rays Prediction & Pick
The Yankees have to break out of their funk sometime, right?
Final Yankees-Rays Prediction & Pick: New York -1.5 (+138), over 7 (-110)