host AL East division rival the Rays. The Yankees opened as +115 underdogs on the DraftKings moneyline, but the odds are now dead even with New York at -108 and Tampa at -112. The over/under is set at 8 runs with -120 odds on the over and +100 on the under. The prediction here is that the Yankees win and the over hits.
Rays vs. Yankees Prediction
Starting pitchers: RHP Zach Eflin (11-6, 3.64 ERA) vs. LHP Carlos Rodón (1-3, 5.75 ERA)
Perhaps the most important addition to any roster in the days leading up to the MLB trade deadline was not a traded player at all. It was reigning AL MVP and home run champ Aaron Judge returning to the Yankees after being on the IL since June 4.
The Yankees missed Judge in the worst way. With him out of the lineup, their offense dropped to 27th in wRC+ since June 4. In his first game back in the lineup, all he did was go 3-for-5 and hit a 2-run homer.
Taking the mound for the Yankees in this pivotal divisional series is another elite caliber player that recently returned from a long stint on the IL. Carlos Rodón is making just his 5th start of the season after missing the first 3 months of the season with a left elbow strain and back tightness
Rodón has been shaky in his short tenure with the Yankees, but he is coming off his best start yet when he allowed just 1 run on 4 hits over 5-2/3 innings against the Mets. If that was a sign of things to come, the Yankees should have the edge on the mound in tonight’s game, even though Rays starter Zach Eflin is having a career year.
Eflin is tied for the league lead with 11 wins and is 5th in FIP and 7th in xFIP so far this season (minimum 50 innings). The big concern with Eflin throughout his career has been injury, and at one point he appeared questionable for tonight’s start after he left his last outing early due to left knee discomfort.
Eflin has allowed a season-high five earned runs twice in his last three starts and only pitched 7 innings combined in those outings (granted one of those starts was cut short as noted above). Given the injury concern and recent performance, it’s hard to know what to expect from him.
The Yankees’ hitting splits work in Eflin’s favor. They have a 105 wRC+ against lefties (14th) this season but just a 92 mark against righties (21st). That figure has been an especially paltry 80 (28th) since Judge went on the IL.
The Rays’ splits also work in Rodón’s favor. While they have crushed both lefties and righties for most of the season, they have suffered a prolonged slump over the last month or so, especially against lefties. Over the last 30 days they have dropped to 26th in wRC+ with 87 and they are dead last in wRC+ against lefties with a measly 58.
With Judge back in the lineup and the more talented – and seemingly healthier – pitcher on the mound, the Yankees are the better value to bet in this game.
It is tempting to take the +100 odds on the under given the two starting pitchers and both lineups’ recent struggles. However, both pitchers are also hard to trust right now, and both lineups also have plenty of pop that can explode at any time. It may be prudent to avoid betting the total in this game, but the recommendation here is to take the over on a low line of 8.
Rays vs. Yankees Prediction: Yankees moneyline (-108), over 8 runs (-120)
Note: all metrics above taken before Monday’s games
Rays vs. Yankees Odds
The Yankees opened as +115 home underdogs on the moneyline at DraftKings, but as of this writing the odds have shifted to be virtually dead even. New York is at -108 while Tampa is at -112.
The Rays are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at +145 odds, while the Yankees are getting +1.5 at -175.
The over/under is set at 8 runs with -120 odds on the over and +100 on the under.
Rays vs. Yankees Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Rays vs. Yankees.
Zach Eflin vs. Yankees’ righty-heavy lineup
Eflin has been excellent for most of this season, but he has started showing some cracks over his last three starts. Those recent struggles combined with the knee injury he suffered 5 days ago are a big reason I sided with the Yankees in my Rays vs. Yankees prediction.
Contrary to conventional baseball wisdom, Eflin actually has been better against lefties than he has against righties this season. Righties are slashing .273/.306/.427 against him while lefties are hitting just .194/.221/.318. Despite the Yankees’ hitting splits noted above, that could be good news for the Bronx Bombers’ lineup, which is likely to include only 2 left-handed hitters.
Eflin’s aggravated left knee is also a pretty big concern. If that knee flares up and he has to leave this start early, that is going to put some serious pressure on the Rays’ bullpen…
Another reason for the over pick in the Rays vs. Yankees prediction above is the Yankees’ recent struggles in the bullpen. While they lead the league in bullpen ERA at 3.14 and they are 7th in bullpen FIP at 3.94, those numbers belie their performance over the last 30 days.
In the last month they are 16th in bullpen ERA at 4.24 and 24th in bullpen FIP at 4.93.
The Yankees should still have an advantage over the Rays’ bullpen, whose season-long ERA is 3.88 (12th) and FIP is 4.37 (23rd). Over the last month their ERA has dropped to 4.48 (16th) while their FIP has improved to 4.15 (13th).
Rays vs. Yankees Starting Lineups (Projected)
Rays Starting Lineup
1B Yandy Diaz (R)
SS Wander Franco (S)
RF Luke Raley (L)
LF Randy Arozarena (R)
3B Isaac Paredes (R)
2B Brandon Lowe (L)
DH Harold Ramirez (R)
CF Jose Siri (R)
C Christian Bethancourt (R)
Yankees Starting Lineup
2B Gleyber Torres (R)
RF Aaron Judge (R)
1B Anthony Rizzo (L)
DH Giancarlo Stanton (R)
3B DJ LeMahieu (R)
CF Harrison Bader (R)
LF Billy McKinney (L)
SS Anthony Volpe (R)
C Kyle Higashioka (R)