Yankees vs. Rays MLB Odds & Picks: Bet Cole & New York in First Five Innings (Wednesday, May 12)

Yankees vs. Rays MLB Odds & Picks: Bet Cole & New York in First Five Innings (Wednesday, May 12) article feature image

Steven Ryan/Getty Images. Pictured: New York Yankees star Aaron Judge.

  • New York gives the ball to their ace Gerrit Cole for Game 2 of it 10-game road trip.
  • Tampa has lost three of its last four games, including losing 3-1 yesterday to the Yankees.
  • Even though the Rays already have a win over Cole this season, Mike Ianniello likes the ace to redeem himself tonight.

Yankees vs. Rays Odds

Yankees Odds-190
Rays Odds+155
Time7:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday morning via BetMGM.

The New York Yankees kicked off a 10-game road trip with 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday to move to 2-5 against the Tampa Bay Rays on the season.

Jordan Montgomery was brilliant for the Yankees, matching a career high with nine strikeouts and allowing just one run and two hits over six innings in arguably the best start of his career.

New York will now hand the ball to its ace in Gerrit Cole to try and keep the struggling Tampa Bay bats at bay in the second meeting.

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New York Yankees

The one blemish on Cole’s campaign came against the Rays on April 18. Now, blemish is a relative turn, as Cole took the loss despite allowing just two runs in 6 1/3 innings while striking out 10 batters.

Otherwise, Cole has been phenomenal with a 4-1 record in seven starts, never surrendering more than two earned runs. His 1.61 ERA ranks fourth in baseball and sits second with a 1.29 FIP. Cole is second in the league with a 40.2 K%, racking up 66 punch-outs in 44 2/3 innings.

His incredible start has almost flown under the radar, which has come to be expected from him, but Cole has been even more dominant than usual. His 1.61 ERA, 1.29 FIP and 13.30 K/9 would all be the best of his career. Teams are batting just .181 against him, also the lowest of his career.

The biggest reason for Cole’s better numbers has been the uptick in usage of his changeup, specifically to left-handed batters. His changeup usage is up to 15.1% (up from 5.6% last season), plus it's his second-most used pitch at 22.1% against left-handed hitters. Lefties are batting just .143 against Cole this year, with just 11 hits and 37 strikeouts.

Offensively, the Yankees' bats continue to be red hot. They sit top 10 in the league in batting average and OPS over the last two weeks, plus they  added seven more hits in Tuesday's affair.

The good news for the Yankees is the two players that had been continuing to slump were Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, who each hit towering home runs in the opener. Judge picked up his first multi-hit game since May 1.

The Yankees also got big boost to the lineup with the return of 2020 home-run leader Luke Voit. After undergoing offseason knee surgery, Voit made his season debut in Tuesday's game.

Despite going hitless, Voit just missed his first home run of the season via a long fly to left that Randy Arozarena caught with his back against the wall.

Tampa Bay Rays

Collin McHugh, Cole’s former teammate in Houston, will start for Tampa Bay. McHugh has made just one other start this season, serving as an opener and pitching a hitless two innings, striking out five. In 7 1/3 innings over five games, McHugh has allowed six earned runs and sits with a 7.36 ERA.

Teams are batting .375 against McHugh this season. In a pair of appearances against the Yankees, he allowed five runs (three earned) and five hits over 1 1/3 innings. He throws his fastball just 90.7 miles per hour, but mainly throws a slider (43.3%) and cutter (32.6%) on the mound. Teams are batting .667 against his cutter this year.

Ryan Yarbrough will likely piggyback McHugh after a few innings, and he picked up the win in that game Cole lost, although he did not start that game. Instead, he entered in the second inning after an opener and pitched five innings, allowing just one run on two hits.

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The 6-foot-5 left hander has made seven appearances (four starts), recording a 4.58 ERA. He has allowed 19 earned runs over 37 1/3 innings, striking out 29 batters. Yarbrough has pretty much been excellent or horrible in his outings this year. He has allowed one run or fewer in four games, but gave up at least five runs in the other three.

Yarbrough throws mostly off-speed stuff, using his 82 miles per hour cutter 46.1% of the time, as well as a changeup, sinker and curveball that averages just 70.8 miles per hour. His K% is in the bottom 15% of the league, but his HardHit% and average exit velocity is in the top 3%.

The Rays bats continue to have problems at the plate this season. They rank 25th in batting average, batting .219 on the season, and are 26th in OPS and wOBA.

They managed just three hits last night and a solo shot from Zunino was the only run across the board. Tampa Bay’s expected top bats have done nothing for them with Randy Arozarena batting .258, Brandon Lowe hitting .193 and Austin Meadows at just .189.

Yankees-Rays Pick

The Rays were able to pin a loss on Cole earlier this season in his only defeat. That said, I'm confident the ace will make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Cole allowed just two runs in that start, but the Yankees' offense was not close to what it has been over the last two weeks. I trust them to give him the run support this time around. Both of the pitchers New York should see early throw a lot of cutters, and the Yankees are fifth in the league over the last two seasons against cut fastballs.

On the other hand, the Rays continue to look lost at the plate, striking out more than any team in baseball. Tampa Bay is batting just .205 at home this year, which is the second-worst home average by any team in the league.

I don’t expect that number to rise against one of the game's  best pitchers. Instead of laying the full-game price, I think the best bet is to take the Yankees to be leading after five innings and bank on Cole outpitching the Rays' staff.

Pick: Yankees — First Five Innings (-115)

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