Rays vs. Yankees Odds, Preview, Prediction: Will New York Clinch a Playoff Berth Friday? (October 1)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Nestor Cortes Jr.
- The Yankees can clinch a playoff berth if things fall their way on Friday night, but first they'll need to take care of business as slight favorites against Shane McClanahan and the Tampa Bay Rays.
- Mike Ianniello sizes up the odds and previews the AL East showdown below.
Editor’s note: Looking for Saturday’s Yankees-Rays game? Click here.
Rays vs. Yankees Odds
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With a win last night and the Red Sox loss, the Yankees magic number to clinch a postseason berth is down to two. New York is two games up for the first wild card spot, and if they can remain in place, would host the Red Sox, Mariners or Blue Jays in the Wild Card Game.
Tampa Bay has run away with the AL East and clinched home-field advantage in the American League playoffs, so the Rays will host the winner of the AL Wild Card Game.
New York is 8-2 in its last 10 games and playing for its playoff berth still, but is that enough to give the Yanks the edge on Friday, or will Tamp Bay be able to play the role of spoiler and keep the chaos alive in the wild card race?
Tampa Bay Rays
Every year the Tampa Rays seem to just pull stud pitchers out of nowhere and Shane McClanahan (LHP) has been no different. The 24-year old rookie has gone 10-6 with a 3.44 ERA and 3.26 xFIP in 24 starts this season.
McClanahan has a fastball that averages in the high 90s and a great slider and curveball that helps him generate a 10.3 K/9 rate. The only concern is that his 4.62 xERA is more than full run above his 3.44 ERA and his 45.4% HardHit% ranks in the bottom seven percent of the league.
The Rays are always known for their pitching staff but the offense has been very good as well this season. The Tampa Bay bats rank 10th in wOBA and fourth in wRC+ this season and rookie sensation Wander Franco is back in the lineup and has been on fire over the second half of the year.
New York Yankees
Originally expected to work out of the bullpen, Nestor Cortes (LHP) has needed to fill in as part of the rotation and has been a surprising bright spot for the Yankees this year. Nasty Nestor has a 2.85 ERA this season, and in 13 starts is 2-2 with a 3.01 ERA.
Cortes has allowed a .210 xBA and .279 xwOBA against him this year, both rank in the top 20% of the league. His cutter and slider have just been average but his fastball has been terrific, allowing just a .191 batting average and generating a 34.4% strikeout rate.
The Yankees understand what is at stake and their big guns have stepped up. Over the last 30 days, New York ranks 11th in wOBA and 10th in wRC+. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge have been crushing the ball, plus Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela are really hitting the ball well too.
Tampa Bay always seems to give the Yankees fits, going 9-7 against them this year. However, the Yankees are 6-4 in the last 10 meetings and have much more to play for than the Rays.
New York will have the ability to clinch a postseason berth on Friday. But aside the extra motivation, have situational advantage with a pair of left-handed pitchers on the mound.
When facing left-handed pitchers this year, the Yankees rank seventh in wOBA compared to the Rays who rank just 19th in wOBA against south paws.
The Yankees offense has been hitting the ball really well, ranking third in wOBA and fourth in wRC+ over the last two weeks. They have hit McClanahan around this year, tagging him for an 0-2 record and a 6.75 ERA in two starts.
Sometimes it is hard to handicap motivation, but the Yankees need to win, the Rays do not. So I will back New York at -127 and would play them to -135.
Pick: New York Yankees -135 or better