Yankees at Rays – Free Pick September 4th

New York Yankees +120 at Tampa Bay Rays -127 (Total: 8.5)

Freddy Garcia vs. Alex Cobb

It seems almost beyond belief, but the Yankees, who put the AL East competition in their rear-view mirror most of the season, could end this series not only out of first place but in danger of being out of the playoff picture altogether.   Baltimore sits just one game back of the Yankees, and the Rays with two more wins would pull within a half-game.  Factor in Oakland winning nine of ten and taking a commanding wildcard position, and things just went from “interesting” to “panic time” in the Bronx.

The Yankees send veteran pitcher Freddy Garcia to the mound to try and stem their losing tide.  Garcia has been serviceable most of the season, but far from great, and has really looked pedestrian in his last three outings.  He has allowed an ERA of 5.17 while lasting just 15.1 innings in his last three starts.  However, he has been fairly reliable to give a decent outing.  He has allowed more than three ones only twice in his last nine starts (four, and five, respectively) yet has allowed at least two in all of them.  Consistent.  Steady.  And right now?  That’s exactly what the Yankees need.

Alex Cobb has been a little less predictable. Two starts ago the Rays young righty threw a complete game shutout against the scorching-hot Oakland A’s.  The outing before that he allowed eight earned in 2.2 innings.  Things are a little more feast or famine with young explosively talented pitchers.  The stat I am hanging my hat on tonight is not his two most recent outings, but rather the impressive string of dominant starts he strung together before them.  He strung together four straight quality starts including three straight games of 1ER, 7IP back to back.

The Yankee offense has been scuffling a bit with all the injuries finally taking their toll.  They have scored just 18 runs in their last 7 games, an average of just over 2.5 per game.  They are likely going to need more than that with the predictable Garcia allowing a few and then putting three innings of pressure on the bullpen.

Mostly, I just love the momentum of the Rays.  I like Cobb to give them a great start at home and for that “déjà vu” feeling of “didn’t we see this last year???” starting to creep into both teams, and the cowbell-clanging Rays fans (who show up in surprisingly good numbers for September Yankee games).

Give me the Rays tonight in a huge win that makes things even MORE interesting the final three weeks in the AL East.

Free Pick:  Tampa Bay Rays to WIN -127