With the Yankees hanging on by a thread in the AL Wild Card race, and the Rays scrambling to get back atop the AL East, this is a must-win game for both squads. Of course, only one of them will get the victory they so need, so let’s dig into the odds for this game, where my prediction is a Rays win and for the under to hit at -105 odds for a run total of 7.5.
Rays vs. Yankees Prediction
It’s official; the ship is sinking for this year’s Yankees. The front office decided to essentially stand pat at the trade deadline, and thus far has been rewarded with a pair of completely uncompetitive losses against a Rays team that isn’t particularly hot itself. This series was more or less composed of must-win games, and now the Bronx Bombers will be hard-pressed to stave off a sweep at home.
Aaron Judge is back and looks good, but that’s about the only good news. The rest of the offense is completely stagnant, the bullpen’s early season dominance has faded, and the rotation has not panned out, with guys like Luis Severino and Carlos Rodón disappointing to varying degrees. It’s truly hard to know why they didn’t either move to improve the team at the deadline if they want to contend, or sell off expiring contracts if this is viewed as a lost season.
The Rays broke away a bit from their usual methods of business, and had a relatively active trade deadline as they look to get back ahead of the Baltimore Orioles and secure the AL East title. They brought in starting pitcher Aaron Civale, who has had a great start to the year with Cleveland, and a couple of high-end prospects in reliever Manny Rodriguez and catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson.
There’s good reason for Tampa to be all-in on this season; despite recent struggles, this is one of the better teams they’ve had. Furthermore, the AL is as wide open as it’s been in recent memory, with the Yankees and Astros both down compared to the standards they’ve each set over the past half-decade. This may be the franchise’s best-ever chance to get a ring, and they won’t want to miss out.
With an aces’ battle on tap between Gerrit Cole and Shane McClanahan, the under is a pretty easy call in this one, even with a number like 7.5, which has not been eclipsed yet in this series. The only question is who to pick on the moneyline, which is also relatively simple. I’m not as high on McClanahan as some are, but this Yankees lineup is absolutely putrid, and he could get out of this one without surrendering a single run as long as he dances around Judge a bit.
Rays vs. Yankees Prediction: Rays ML (-108), u7.5 runs (-105)
Rays vs. Yankees Odds
Vegas sees this one as more even than I do, with a moneyline of -108 for the Rays and -112 for the Yankees. For a run total of 7.5, the under is -105 while the over is -115.
Rays vs. Yankees Key Matchups
Gerrit Cole Vs. Contact Bats
Cole, who comes into this start with the best ERA in the American League and the second best in the Majors, has been less of a true-outcomes pitcher this season as his home run and strikeout rates are both down, but his hits allowed per 9 is slightly up. Unsurprisingly, his WHIP is also slightly elevated compared to a 2022 campaign that many view as inferior, so let’s take a look at some contact bats and on-base threats that could hurt Cole this Wednesday.
Tampa’s leader in batting average this year is Yandy Díaz, who has missed a few games but has a sparkling mark of .317, good for second in the American League as of now. Harold Ramirez has also been in and out of the lineup a bit, but is also making good contact as he’s hitting .284. As far as OBP, Díaz leads the team again with a number over .400, but Randy Arozarena, Isaac Paredes, and Luke Raley are right behind with figures between .355 and .365. This is as deep a lineup as you’ll find in baseball, and their ability to make things hard for Cole every inning is a major reason why I have Tampa hitting the -108 moneyline in my Yankees vs. Rays prediction.
Shane McClanahan vs. Righty Power
McClanahan, a lefty, doesn’t have too much of a platoon split, and isn’t really given the chance to face many fellow southpaws. But one thing that is clear is that righties hit him for more power, as every single homer he’s given up this year has been against a right-handed bat. The Yankees lineup doesn’t have a lot, but one thing it does have is righties who can hit the ball far, so let’s take a look at a few.
Naturally, the first name that comes up here is Aaron Judge, the best power righty in today’s game, if not in the modern era. Despite having only played in 53 of the Yankees’ 107 games so far, his 20 homers are pretty comfortably good enough for the team lead. He’s hit one since returning from the IL, and is definitively the biggest threat to McClanahan in this game.
Giancarlo Stanton has also hit 14 long balls in just a couple more games played than Judge, including 7 in his past 18 starts. With an OBP well below .300, he hasn’t been great overall, but he’s always a threat to hit one a long way. Gleyber Torres, the team’s most consistent bat all year, has survived another trade deadline, and is after Judge on the leaderboard with 16 homers. It’s a great Yankees lineup, but these guys definitely have the ability to put the ball out of the park.
Rays vs. Yankees Starting Lineups
Rays Starting Lineup
1B Y. Diaz R
SS W. Franco S
DH H. Ramirez R
LF R. Arozarena R
3B I. Paredes R
2B B. Lowe L
CF J. Siri R
C C. Bethancourt R
RF J. Lowe L
Yankees Starting Lineup
2B G. Torres R
DH A. Judge R
1B A. Rizzo L
RF G. Stanton R
3B D. LeMahieu R
LF I. Kiner-Falefa R
CF H. Bader R
SS A. Volpe R
C K. Higashioka R