Rays vs. Yankees MLB Odds, Pick & Preview: Tampa Bay Undervalued in Elite Pitching Matchup (Wednesday, June 15)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Shane McClanahan
- The Yankees are slight favorites at home tonight against the Rays.
- It's a battle of top pitchers, as Tampa's Shane McClanahan squares off against New York's Nestor Cortes.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.
Rays vs. Yankees Odds
|Time||7:05 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
The red-hot New York Yankees look to keep the ball rolling on Wednesday night as they take on division rival Tampa Bay Rays in the second of a three-game series.
The Yankees enter winners in 12 of their last 13, including a 2-0 win over the Rays on Tuesday. They send left-hander Nestor Cortes to the mound while Tampa Bay matches with a southpaw of their own in Shane McClanahan.
Rays Have Ace in McClanahan
While McClanahan sounds more like he’d be on the Miracle on Ice roster and less a starting pitcher in MLB, the 25-year-old has been Tampa Bays’ best pitcher this season.
The sophomore year leap McClanahan has made is drastic. His barrel and hard-hit rate metrics were alarming last season, and opponents had an xBA of .263.
This year, his hard-hit rate is down 12 percent, and opponents have just a .207 xBA against the left-hander. He’s striking out more batters, walking fewer and has nearly halved his ERA (1.87) from a season ago (3.43).
It’s not a fluke, either. His xERA is among the top six percent of pitchers — 2.46 — and his xFIP is a sparkling 2.01,
One of the reasons behind McClanahan’s big step forward can be traced back to his pitch selection. As a rookie, he was primarily a two-pitch pitcher, throwing his fastball and slider a combined 75 percent of the time.
That number is all the way down to 53 percent in 2022. He’s throwing more offspeed and has really incorporated his changeup, which was only used 8.0 percent of the time last season.
In fact, his two best pitchers are his curveball (.162 xBA) and changeup (.183).
As for the Rays’ offense, they are better against southpaws. They rank 11th in wRC+ against left-handed pitching and slash .256/.321/.382 as opposed to .225/.289/.376 versus righties.
They will remain without Mike Zunino, Brandon Lowe and Wander Franco, who are on the 10-day injured list.
Yankees Continue to Ride Cortes
Cortes has been a revelation for the Yankees this season, as he’s arguably been the best pitcher in a dominant rotation.
Something has clicked for Cortes over the last two seasons as he continues to improve across the board. His walk rate is down, strikeouts are up and opponents have just a .205 xBA against the southpaw.
Cortes has slowly become a two-pitch pitcher, throwing his cutter nearly double the amount in 2022. He still uses his slider, but the fastball-cutter combo is used on over 75 percent of pitches.
His advanced metrics are a little bit more concerning than his counterpart on Wednesday night. While his xERA is 2.39, less than a half-run jump from his actual ERA of 1.96, his xFIP is all the way up at 3.23.
But he remains among MLB’s elite to begin the season. He ranks inside the top five percent of all pitchers in xERA and xwOBA, and is top 10 percent in xBA.
The Yankees’ offense does slug slightly better against left-handed pitching, though they do see a small drop-off when it comes to getting on-base. They are still top 10 in both wRC+ and wOBA, as opposed to No. 1 against righties.
This is the game of the night across MLB’s slate. Two of the best pitchers in baseball go head-to-head in an intense AL East rivalry.
While the Yankees’ offense is always scary to fade, I think at the current price, the Rays are a bit undervalued here.
McClanahan has the slight edge on the mound over Cortes and has really come into his own at just 25. He has not given up more than two runs since April and should experience similar success on Wednesday night.
I do think the Rays should be priced a bit lower in what is a true toss-up of a matchup. If there’s a pitcher to put an end to the Yankees’ hot start to June, it’s the 25-year-old southpaw who has been nothing short of dominant in 2022.
Back Tampa Bay to take down their division rival on the road and even the series at one apiece.
Pick: Rays (+125, to +115)