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MLB Odds & Picks for Yankees vs. Rays: Back the Bronx Bombers to get to Rich Hill (Friday, April 9)

MLB Odds & Picks for Yankees vs. Rays: Back the Bronx Bombers to get to Rich Hill (Friday, April 9) article feature image

Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees.

Yankees vs. Rays Odds

Yankees Odds -140
Rays Odds +120
Over/Under 8.5 (-110/-110)
Time 3 p.m. ET
Odds as of Friday morning and via PointsBet

The Yankees and Rays begin their three game weekend series Friday with both teams desperate for a win.

The Yankees have gotten off to a slow start going 3-3 after two series with the Blue Jays and Orioles. With the Bronx Bombers coming into the season as heavy favorites to win the AL East a .500 start against two of the weaker division foes is not how Aaron Boone wanted to start the season. A series win versus the Rays could be just what the Yankees need to get back on track.

The defending American League champions have gotten off to a horrible start after getting swept by the Red Sox earlier this week. They’ll send 41-year old Rich Hill to the mound in their home opener in hopes he can right the ship for Tampa Bay.

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Offensive Matchup 

New York Yankees

Once again, the Yankees’ lineup is stacked in 2021 after finishing inside the top 10 in pretty much every statistical category in 2020. They’re lineup is starting to find their groove after scoring 17 runs in three games against the Orioles earlier this week.

The Yankees didn’t make any upgrades to their offense during the offseason, but they kept their entire lineup together. Unfortunately, they will be without Luke Voit — MLB’s home-run leader from last season — for at least the first month.

Now, while the Yankee’s lineup is stacked, they really struggled versus left-handed pitching last season, hitting for only a .226 average and a .313 wOBA. However, the good news for the Yankees is Hill mainly throws a fastball and curveball, which are two pitches they were successful against last season, ranking in the top half of MLB against both.

Tampa Bay Rays

Despite making the World Series last season, the Rays actually didn’t have a very elite lineup. Tampa Bay finished 12th in wOBA and had the second highest strikeout percentage in MLB. They also flat out stunk versus fastballs, finishing 26th in baseball with -9.9 weighted fastball runs, per FanGraphs.

However, the Rays were second best team in baseball against curveballs, which is Corey Kluber’s go to pitch. So, it’ll be interesting to see if the Rays have any success against Kluber’s sinker or if they’ll be able to get to his curveball.

Starting Pitching Matchup

Corey Kluber vs. Rich Hill

2021 ZIPS Projected Stats (via Fangraphs)

Corey Kluber, RHP

2019 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Kluber’s 2019 and 2020 seasons were cut short after fracturing his right forearm in 2019 and a torn shoulder in 2020. He signed with the Yankees in the offseason in hopes to return to his former glory.

However, the two time CY Young Award winner is now 34 coming off back to back arm injuries, so it’s hard to imagine he’ll return to his former self. He’s was only able to make it through four innings in his first start giving up two runs on five hits. He mixed his pitches well, but his velocity on almost all of his pitches is down 2-3 mph, which is a major concern.

Even though Kluber is getting up there in age, his curveball is still elite. In 2018, opponents only had a .143 wOBA against it and struck out 77 times. However, the Rays were the second best team in MLB against curveballs last season, so Kluber is going to have a tough matchup, if he isn’t effective with the rest of his arsenal, especially with his velocity way down.

Rich Hill, LHP

2020 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Hill is somehow still pitching in Major League Baseball at the age of 41. He’s lost any velocity he once had, as he only averaged 87.8 mph on his fastball, which hitters took advantage of, putting up a .339 wOBA.

However, the reason Hill is still pitching is his curveball. Opposing hitters last season hit only .172 against it with just two extra base hits in 263 pitches. He throws it over 43% of the time and you can see why.

Every Rich Hill strikeout via the curveball in 2019. Get excited Twins fans! #MNTwins

— Jeremy Maschino (@JMaschino_56) July 15, 2020

Even though Hill still has an elite curveball, he posted his worst xFIP, xERA, K/9, and BB/9 in five years. So, even though the Yankees struggled versus left handed pitching last year, they should be able to get to the veteran.

Bullpen/Defensive Matchup

The bullpen matchup in the series is essentially even, with both bullpens losing pieces in the offseason, along with injuries, most notably, Zach Britton for the Yankees. The good news is both teams had the day off yesterday, so both pens should be fully rested for Friday.

Yankees-Rays Pick

Even though the Yankees struggled versus left handed pitching last season, I think they have a fantastic matchup against the soft-tossing Hill. The Bronx bombers were sixth against fastballs and 12th against curveballs in 2020, which are pretty much the only two pitches Hill throws.

Since I have 5.17 runs projected for the Yankees, I like their team total over 4.5 runs at -105 odds.

Pick: Yankees Team Total Over 4.5 runs (-105)

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