Saturday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Rays vs. Yankees Betting Preview (Oct. 2)

Saturday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Rays vs. Yankees Betting Preview (Oct. 2) article feature image

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: Shane Baz.

  • The Yankees host Tampa on Saturday, lookin to hold onto their AL wild-card position.
  • The Rays have the division secured, but they could have the advantage today with Shane Baz and a fresher bullpen.
  • D.J. James breaks down Yankees-Rays below and gives out his top pick for the critical matchup.

Rays vs. Yankees Odds

Rays Odds+130
Yankees Odds-150
Time1:05 p.m. ET
TVMLB Network
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds odds here.

The New York Yankees sit atop the American League wild-card standings going into the final series of the year with a two-game lead over the tied Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox, as of Friday afternoon.

They take on the division winner, Tampa Bay Rays, and hope to secure a playoff slot sooner, rather than later. The Rays put Shane Baz on the bump to face Jordan Montgomery of the Yankees. Baz is a fire-baller with an average fastball around 97 MPH. Montgomery is a position pitcher who primarily features a sinker to induce grounders. The Rays are dogs, so is that the side to take?

Rays Bullpen Can Bear the Load

The Rays notably acquired Shane Baz alongside Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow for Chris Archer in 2018. He finally has the opportunity to strut his stuff and has flashed his velocity in each of his two starts this season. On fastballs between 96 MPH and 98 MPH since September 1 from righties, the Yankees only have a .243 xwOBA. Since Baz will go to this pitch about 50% of the time, New York might be in for a long day.

The Tampa lineup also likes hitting lefties this month. Montgomery has had a few good outings against Tampa, but that could easily change here. The Rays have the fourth-best wRC+ in September against southpaws. They have a collective .350 OBP, as well. No one is currently injured for the Rays, so the only thing holding back their lineup would be a few subs playing.

Regardless, they have seven hitters this month above the 100 wRC+ mark against righties. Mike Zunino and Yandy Díaz notably have a wRC+ over 200 and an OPS over 1.200. With six guys over .500 slugging too, the Rays should be prime for a breakout game.

The Rays bullpen has not blown anyone away in September, but its solid 3.81 ERA is consistent with where it has performed all season. The Rays have so much depth in their reliever system, they could probably sign someone off the street and develop them to throw a 97-MPH fastball. Ryan Yarbrough has struggled this month. David Robertson has done the same, but otherwise they have enough artillery to back up the youngster.

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Yankees Sluggers Could Struggle With Baz

Jordan Montgomery is the complete opposite pitcher from the entire Rays roster, seemingly. He has a 2.48 ERA post All-Star game, so he has been on a roll. That should end here. The Rays like to hit fastballs from a similar-profile pitcher (92-94 MPH). They also tend to hit changeups and curveballs from lefties this month with a .315 xwOBA. This should negate almost all of Montgomery’s arsenal.

The Yankee lineup has hit righties well, but again, cannot hit a pitcher with the velocity numbers Baz can touch. Their lineup is top-heavy. The usual suspects will lead the way (Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, etc.), but the success of the order falls off quickly after them. With injuries to Joey Gallo, Luke Voit and D.J. LeMahieu on Thursday evening, the Yankees are in trouble. If Baz can pump in the heat and the Rays throw enough high-velocity arms behind him, they should be set against this Yankee lineup.

The Yankee bullpen, like the Rays, has been strong all season. It owns a team 4.07 ERA this month with a 3.94 xFIP, but New York did use Michael King, Aroldis Chapman, Luis Severino and Chad Green in Thursday’s win against the Blue Jays. This hinders its depth and provides the Rays with a significant edge on short rest, since only Yarbrough, Collin McHugh, J.P. Feyereisen and Matt Wisler may be unavailable for Tampa.

Rays-Yankees Pick

The Yankees may be playing for more in this game, but losing some strong bats from their lineup versus a righty will hurt. The Rays are fully healthy, so that gives them an edge, even if some people are resting in this game. Take the Rays at +130 and play to -110.

Pick: Tampa Bay Rays +130, play to -110

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