MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Yankees vs. Rays: Can Offense Overcome Strong Pitching in Tampa? (July 26)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Yankees vs. Rays: Can Offense Overcome Strong Pitching in Tampa? (July 26) article feature image
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Jim McIsaac/Getty Images. Pictured: Rougned Odor (left) and Ryan LaMarre celebrate.

  • The Yankees and Rays open a crucial AL East series on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg.
  • Jordan Montgomery will take the mound for New York against Tampa rookie Shane McClanahan.
  • Jeff Hicks previews the matchup and makes his betting pick below.

Yankees vs. Rays Odds

Yankees Odds +130
Rays Odds -150
Over/Under 7.5 (-115 / -105)
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Monday night and via DraftKings.

The New York Yankees are clinging to their postseason lives as they head to Tampa for the first of three games against the Rays.

The Rays are 8-5 against the Yankees this season, and these two teams haven’t met since early June when the Yankees took two of three. In 2021, the Rays are 30-18 at home while the Yankees are 24-24 on the road.

Let’s dive deeper into this matchup of two southpaw starters.

Yankees Can Hit Lefties

The New York Yankees have not had the season that they and fans would have expected, but the offense has had success against left-handed pitching. New York has a .766 OPS against lefties and a 116 wRC+ on the road. The wRC+ is good for third-best in baseball. The offense will be needed because New York’s starter has had mixed results against the Rays this season.

Jordan Montgomery has two starts allowing four earned runs, as well as two allowing one earned run against the Rays. Montgomery was bailed out in one start by an fielding errors, so instead of five earned runs allowed he was charged with one.

Tampa is not going to wow you against lefties, but the Rays do enough to be a headache. Montgomery has to cut down on his walks; he has five more in road starts in only 1 1/3 more innings pitched than at home. The Rays walk 11% of plate appearances, fourth-best at home against lefties. Montgomery has a 4.75 road ERA, 1.61 runs higher than at home.

Rookie McClanahan Has Been Solid for Tampa

Tampa’s offense is average at making contact against lefties. The Rays are no higher than 15th and lower than 16th in Hard Hit, Medium Hit, and Soft Hit percentage. The Rays also hit the ball in the air more than any team at home but only have an 11.6% HR/FB ratio. When Tampa’s offense beats you, they do so slowly and without power. Tampa averages 4.48 runs per home game.

Shane McClanahan has been great in his rookie campaign. His home and road ERA are 0.04 off from each other, but he does allow more hard contact at home. McClanahan also has reverse splits at home against left-handed hitters in a small sample size. He has allowed nine hits, one home run, and three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings pitched against them.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone would benefit from putting a few lefties in the lineup. McClanahan will have to hope the Yankees offense has a rough game. New York has 26th best strikeout rate and have the third-best walk rate against southpaws in road games.

Yankees-Rays Pick

Both teams have or will add prior to the trade deadline and will do whatever it takes to win this game andseries. Both pitchers have had their moments this season but each offense has enough to make this game higher scoring and close.

I like over 7.5 runs in part because the two teams average 8.5 runs combined in road/home games respectively. I like the Yankees going to Tampa and scoring runs, something that they have had more than their share of issues accumulating.

I also do not see value on the Rays moneyline at -150 as I expect them to win a closely-contested series opener.

Pick: Over 7.5 (-105, bet to -125)

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