7:10 p.m – ET Yankees (-200 ML) at Rays O/U:7
The 19-16 Yankees look to clinch the series against the 19-18 Rays at Tropicana Field on Wednesday night. The two American League East preseason favorites have begun hitting their strides in the month of May, combining to win 14 of their last 20 games. Only one could win last night, and it was New York who came out with a 3-1 victory behind a strong six-inning start from Jordan Montgomery, who allowed only one run while recording nine strikeouts.
About the Yankees
New York has won eight of its last 10 games to vault into second place in the AL East. The biggest surprise for the Yankees has not been their surprisingly slow start to this season, but what is mostly winning games for them now. The Yankees were constructed to win with their bats, but instead they currently are winning in spite of their hitting.
New York averages only four runs per game, seventh-fewest among all MLB teams. Thankfully for the Bronx Bombers, left fielder Giancarlo Stanton has finally caught fire, batting .370 with three home runs and nine RBI over his last seven games. Catcher Sanchez hit a crucial home run last night, but is batting just .178 this year and has lost a bit of playing time to Kyle Higashioka over the month of May. Right fielder and perennial AL Most Valuable Player candidate Aaron Judge was the team’s best hitter in April, but is batting just .160 with four hits in his last seven games.
Yet this team remains on fire because it boasts one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. The Yankees have the fourth-lowest team ERA in the major leagues at 3.16. From the starting rotation to the elite back end of the bullpen, runs are hard to come by for opposing teams when playing against New York.
About the Rays
The reigning American League champion Rays have been middle of the road in almost every statistical category halfway through the second month of the season. The offense averages the 15th most runs per game in MLB at 4.2. A large reason for this is that the hitters with high averages such as Joey Wendle and Randy Arozerena, have not hit any power this season.
Next, all the power hitters such as Austin Meadows and Mike Zunino, find themselves hovering around the Mendoza line. Tampa Bay has scored over three runs just twice over its past five games and that spells trouble for a team that is about to face Gerrit Cole. The Rays allow the same amount as they score 4.2 runs per game, which ranks 13th in the big leagues.
Manager Kevin Cash typically boasts a more elite pitching staff, but there is plenty of potential for that to show itself over the course of the long season.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|New York Yankees||-1½ (-115)||-200||O 7 (-120)|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+1½ (-105)||+170||U 7 (+100)|
The Pitching Matchup
The Yankees are giving the ball to the $300-Million Dollar Man, former Cy Young award winner Gerit Cole, to ensure the series win before the series finale is even played. Cole has been his dominant self this year, with a 1.61 ERA and a 4-1 record in seven starts this year. Cole collected 10 strikeouts in his last start against Tampa Bay in 6.1 innings pitched, allowing only two runs despite being tagged with his first loss of the season.
Right-hander Collin McHugh is toeing the rubber for the Rays with slightly different stats than his counterpart. McHugh has made five appearances this season, only one of which was a start. He has an ERA of 7.36 across 7.1 innings pitched. He is expected to act as the “opener” that Kevin Cash uses so often, as he only threw two shutout innings before being removed from his two-shutout-inning “start” last time out in Anaheim.
Tampa Bay has a bullpen advantage and New York has blown its fair share of leads this season, so the best bet is to capitalize solely on the starting pitching matchup and leave the bullpens out of it altogether.