Yankees vs. Rays MLB Betting Odds & Picks: Fade Tampa Bay’s Slumping Offense (Thursday, May 13)
Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees.
- The 2021 Tampa Bay Rays have severely underwhelmed compared to their stellar 2020 season that ended in a World Series berth.
- Tampa Bay draws a modest matchup against New York Yankees starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, but MLB betting analyst Michael Arinze does not belive the Rays have the offensive makeup to exploit that matchup.
- Find his full MLB betting breakdown below, including updated odds, in-depth analysis and his pick for Yankees vs. Rays on Thursday evening.
Yankees vs. Rays Odds
|Over/Under||8 (+100 / -122)|
|Time||7:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday morning and via FanDuel.|
The New York Yankees have won four straight games and will attempt to sweep the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. Jameson Taillon will get the start for New York as he seeks to even his record at 2-2.
Taillon will be opposed by Rich Hill, who is also seeking his second win with Tampa Bay.
Both starting pitchers have ERAs above 5.00. However, Tampa Bay’s inability to hit with men on base may actually turn a weakness in Taillon’s game into a strength.
New York Yankees
Jameson Taillon probably hasn’t pitched as bad as his 5.02 ERA might suggest: His lower 4.63 FIP points to some forthcoming positive regression. Moreover, Taillon is striking out 10.67 hitters per nine innings and has a 1.88 BB/9 ratio.
However, he has been susceptible to allowing home runs, as evidenced by his 2.20 HR/9 ratio. But, his biggest challenge is pitching with men on base.
Opposing batters are hitting .355 with runners on compared to .190 when the bases are clear. Their OBP jumps almost 200 points from .220 to .417 in this situational spot, and their SLG improves from .405 to .613. Those 2021 season splits are inconsistent with Taillon’s career slash line of .255 AVG / .311 OBP / .391 SLG with runners on base.
The good news for the Yankees right-hander is that Tampa Bay may be the perfect opponent to mask Taillon’s flaws. The Rays report a .222 AVG (28th in MLB) and .305 wOBA (24th in MLB) with men on base. Tampa Bay also ranks in the bottom half of the league (20th) with 38 home runs.
Another advantage for Taillon is the element of surprise: Only two Rays hitters have ever faced him. Outfielders Brett Phillips and Manuel Margot are a combined 1-9 in 10 plate appearances against Taillon.
Tampa Bay Rays
Something is missing with this Rays team. Tampa Bay is not playing like the team that achieved a .667 regular season winning percentage and went all the way to the World Series last year. Instead, the Rays have been up-and-down despite already notching two five-game winning streaks with just 38 games played.
Tampa Bay sits at fourth in the American League East at 19-19 — three games behind Boston Red Sox. The Rays have only won three of their last 10 games and are at risk of being swept for the second time this season.
After comparing both seasons, I determined that Tampa Bay’s offense is principally responsible for the year-over-year drop-off in production. Here are just some of the things I noticed in my findings:
- Walk rate has fallen from 10.7% to 8.9%.
- Strikeout rate is up from 23.7% to 27.7%.
- ISO is down from .187 to .144.
- WRC+ is below average (93) compared to 110 in 2020.
By contrast, Tampa Bay’s pitching has remained fairly consistent:
This brings me to Rays starting pitcher Rich Hill.
He has accrued a 1-1 record and 5.17 ERA and in seven starts. However, Hill’s 4.37 FIP is lower than his ERA, which signals potential positive regression looming for the 17-year veteran.
Hill’s teams are 2-2 against New York when Hill has earned the start. The current Yankees lineup reports 39 career at-bats against Hill with a modest .282 AVG / .300 OBP / .487 SLG slash-line.
If the Rays lose this game, I suspect that Rich Hill’s performance will not be the primary cause. Instead, it will likely be due to the team’s lackluster offense, which has generated only nine runs over its last five games.
I’ll be upfront by confessing that I support the other team in New York, so I’m clearly not a Yankees fan. In fact, I’m always looking for spots to fade them.
However, in this instance … I can’t find much reason to back the Rays.
My model makes the Yankees a -134 favorite in this game, and that price is available on the market at FanDuel. But let me share some more reasons why I think the Yankees can finish off Tampa Bay with a sweep:
- They’ll get a second look at Hill this season after a 10-5 loss in early April.
- New York has a .260 AVG / .324 OBP / .457 SLG against lefties vs. a .205 AVG / .315 OBP / .348 SLG when facing right-handers.
- New York is 27-14 (+6.16 units) straight up when they’re on a four-game winning streak and facing a left-hander.
By no means am I the biggest Jameson Taillon fan. I simply don’t have faith that the Rays offense can take advantage of his biggest weakness, which is pitching with men on base.
As a result, I’ll begrudgingly look to play the Yankees in this spot and hope that Mr. Met can find it in his heart to forgive me.
Pick: Yankees ML (-134)