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Thursday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Rays vs. Yankees Betting Preview (June 3)

Thursday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Rays vs. Yankees Betting Preview (June 3) article feature image

Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Gerritt Cole #45.

  • The Tampa Bay Rays entered their regular-season series with the New York Yankees as one of the hottest team's in baseball.
  • New York has stymied Tampa Bay's momentum somewhat by winning the last two games in the series as it sends ace Gerritt Cole to the mound on Thursday.
  • MLB betting analyst Mike Ianniello breaks down the matchup, including updated odds, plus his his picks and predictions for Rays vs. Yankees on Thursday, June 3 at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Rays vs. Yankees Odds

Rays Odds +169
Yankees Odds -189
Over/Under 7.5
Time 1:05 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET and via FOX Bet.

The Tampa Bay Rays have vaulted themselves to the top of the MLB standings, holding the best record in baseball at 35-22 after an incredible month. During May, the Rays set a franchise record with 22 wins in a month. They lost just six games all month and finished 16-1 in the last 17 games of May.

The New York Yankees (31-25) started the season 12-14 in April, but the franchise improved in the subsequent month of May, finishing the month 17-11. The Yankees have followed up in June with a pair of wins over the Rays and look to secure the series win on Thursday afternoon.

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Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays will hand the ball to starting pitcher Ryan Yarbrough on Thursday afternoon.

Yarbrough has a 4.26 ERA this and has been used as both a starter and a reliever with very different results. In four appearances out of the bullpen, Yarbrough has a 1.00 ERA and has allowed just two runs over 18 innings.

However as a starter, he is 0-3 with a 5.77 ERA over seven starts. He has allowed 35 runs in 39 innings. Opponents are batting .280 against him as a starter, compared to .194 as a reliever.

Behind Yarbrough is once again one of the best bullpen’s in baseball. Since the end of April, Tampa Bay’s relievers rank first in the American League in wins, ERA, and WHIP.

The Tampa Bay offense was absolutely on fire during the month of May. Tampa Bay’s incredible month was led by an offense that ranked eighth in OPS and scored more runs (160) than any team in MLB.

After a slow start to the season, Austin Meadows has been on fire recently. Over the last 18 games he is batting .329 with six home runs and 22 RBIs. In 12 games against the Yankees this season, Meadows has a 1.095 OPS, four home runs and eight RBIs.

New York Yankees

With every start this season, Gerrit Cole (RHP) seems to further distance himself from the pack as the American League Cy Young Award favorite, currently sitting at -134 on DraftKings. Cole is 6-2 with a 1.78 ERA (fourth in MLB) and has allowed more than two runs in a game just once in 11 starts.

Cole ranks second in MLB with a 1.73 FIP and ranks third with a 36.9 strikeout percentage (K%). Cole’s ERA and FIP would both be the best of his career if the season ended today.

One significant change has contributed to Cole’s success: The increase in his changeup usage — especially against left-handed batters. His changeup usage is up from 5.6% in 2020 to 15.0% this season — a net increase of 9.4%. Against lefties, it has been his second-most frequently used pitch (22.2%). Left-handed batters are hitting just .153 against Cole with 22 hits and 55 strikeouts.

The Yankees’ ace has already faced Tampa Bay twice this season. The first meeting on April 18 gave Cole his first loss — despite a solid outing allowing three runs, two earned, and five hits while striking out 10 batters over 6 1/3 innings. His second matchup with the Rays on May 12 was probably his best start of the season. Cole allowed just four hits and no runs, and struck out 12 batters in eight innings.

The Bronx Bombers have been anything but “bombers” at the plate this season. The Yankees rank 25th in batting average, 20th in OPS, 24th in slugging percentage and 27th in runs per game. Even one of the most trusted bats in the league, DJ LeMahieu, is batting just .255 this season.

The lone bright spot has been Aaron Judg,e who leads the team in hits, doubles, home runs and RBIs. Judge hit .323 with a .949 OPS during the month of May.

Rays-Yankees Pick

Editors Note: The forthcoming betting analysis was written as of late Wednesday night. Since then, Tampa Bay has officially named Ryan Yarbrough as its starting pitcher, but sportsbooks remain hesitant to post lines for Thursday’s game.

Because Kevin Cash refuses to confirm his starter, there are no lines available for this game as of midnight on Wednesday, so we are forced to guess.

The Yankees are hard to back when Cole is on the mound, as they are always huge favorites. I am also not a person who likes to bet against the best hurlers in the league, unless the Yankees are facing a pitcher who can realistically match Cole.

That is not the case in this game, given Yarbrough’s struggles as a starter this year. Cole was brilliant in his last outing against Tampa Bay, and I find no reason to believe that he won’t be able to produce similarly strong results again on Thursday.

Cole has exited play with the Yankees leading in seven of his 11 starts this season. I think the best play in this game will be to back New York to lead after five innings at a price that is -140 or better.

Pick: New York Yankees -0.5 First Five innings (-140 or better)

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