Rays vs. Yankees MLB Odds & Picks: New York Batters Will Awaken (Friday, April 16)

Rays vs. Yankees MLB Odds & Picks: New York Batters Will Awaken (Friday, April 16) article feature image
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Jason Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Judge

  • The Yankees’ bats have been struggling of late, but could a matchup against Michael Wacha be what gets them going again?
  • MLB betting analyst Kenny Ducey thinks so.
  • He previews Friday night's game complete with a pick below.

Rays vs. Yankees Odds

Rays Odds +133
Yankees Odds -157
Over/Under 9
Time Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Friday afternoon and via DraftKings

The Yankees and Rays have both been slipping lately, struggling to hit and getting no help from their pitching staffs. Now, a week after the Rays took two of three from the Yankees at The Trop, the Yankees will be out for revenge as they play host to Tampa Bay and begin a three-game set over the weekend.

Can the Yankee bats awaken against Michael Wacha, who they’ve been hitting hard? Let’s see if there’s any reason to expect offense in this one and dig into the numbers.

Tampa Bay Rays

Ever since taking the first two games against the Yankees last weekend, things have been heading downhill for the Rays.

They’ve lost four of five, beginning with a crushing extra-inning loss to the Yankees last Sunday, where the Rays held New York’s bats in check but gave up the lead late and got tagged for four runs in the 10th. Pitching has been a problem for the Rays over their last five games, in which they’ve allowed 27 runs in the four games Tyler Glasnow didn’t pitch.

Though they haven’t hit like the Rangers thus far, the Yankees are a sleeping giant at the plate, and having the arms lined up and ready to go will be vital for Tampa Bay. Michael Wacha will attempt to be the stopper and get things back on track, which isn’t exactly an inspiring sentence.

Wacha was pretty bad in his short stint with the Mets, allowing a .398 wOBA in eight appearances, seven of which were starts. He allowed a concerning nine home runs in 34 innings, one of which came against Clint Frazier of these same Yankees. In that start, he was knocked around to the tune of four earned runs on six hits over just three innings. The only encouraging part of that start was his seven strikeouts, but the hard contact he allowed offset that silver lining.

I should also note that Wacha has already had another crack at the Yankees since that start, which came in last weekend’s extra-inning loss. He allowed three runs on three hits and three walks over four, making it through the first six hitters unscathed before the bottom of the order and the top half — seeing him for the second time — got the best of him.

It’s safe to say the Yankees won’t be too fazed by Wacha.

New York Yankees

Speaking of making it once through the order, the Yankees will be starting reliever Nick Nelson in this one as an opener.

You may remember Nelson for his hits, like “giving up four earned over 1 1/3 against the Rays” or “letting seven Phillies cross the plate in just 1 2/3 innings and somehow avoiding getting tagged with the loss.” He’s had a very rocky road as a reliever, but evidently the Yankees like his chances against some of these strong lefties at the top of the order for Tampa Bay.

It’s worth noting that Nelson has faced the Rays more than any team in his young career, owning a 5.87 ERA in 7 2/3 innings. With that said, four of the five runs he yielded came in his last outing, and during last postseason, he shut down the Rays in a couple of appearances.

For as many boppers as the Yankees have, they sure haven’t hit the ball well at all this year. New York ranks 17th in hard-hit rate, and 19th in barrels per plate appearance. Predictably, the Bombers are also the owners of a painful 73.6% contact rate, which sits 23rd. That’s easy to live with when your three true outcome guys are doing, you know, the one really good true outcome, but the Yankees rank 21st in home runs. They have walked a lot, and limited strikeouts, but their inability to make contact — and quality contact, at that — has killed them, and made them a tough team this year.

Rays-Yankees Pick

It’s hard to say the Rays are good value here when you consider how bad Wacha is, and how poorly he’s fared against the Yankees in the past. It’s also difficult to lay this kind of juice with a team that has struggled to hit all year long, and that will ask Nick Nelson and a depleted bullpen to stop the Rays lineup.

If this were at The Trop, where the Yankees seem to have a knack for winning games, I’d land on the Rays, easily. Because it’s at Yankee Stadium, where they’ve played much better over the last few years, I’m inclined to believe in this lineup against Wacha.

To avoid trusting Nelson in this one, I’m going to target the Yankees’ team total in the hopes that they’re just really happy to see Wacha again.

Pick: Yankees Team Total Over 4.5 (-136)

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