Yankees vs. Rays Odds & Pick: Bet the Bronx Bombers Early (Wednesday, July 28)

Yankees vs. Rays Odds & Pick: Bet the Bronx Bombers Early (Wednesday, July 28) article feature image

G Fiume/Getty Images. Pictured: Nestor Cortes.

  • Tampa hosts New York for the second of their three-game series on Wednesday night.
  • The Yankees took a crucial 4-3 victory over the Rays on Tuesday to edge closer in the Wild Card race.
  • Mike Vitanza breaks down below how he's backing the Yanks against a struggling Michael Wacha.

Yankees vs. Rays Odds

Yankees Odds+110
Rays Odds-130
Over/Under8.5 (-120 / +100)
Time7:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday afternoon via DraftKings.

The New York Yankees took the first game of this American League East matchup on Tuesday night by the score of 4-3 on the road at Tropicana Field.

The Yankees were led offensively by strong performances from DJ LeMahieu, Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres, all of whom had multi-hit games in the victory. Ryan LaMarre also added a big home run in the eighth inning that sealed the game for the road team.

The Rays, meanwhile, managed eight hits on the day, but just couldn’t get it done in the late innings. Randy Arozarena had three hits in the loss, while Brandon Lowe added two, including a home run.

Can the Yankees make it two-in-a-row on the road and narrow the gap in the Wild Card standings with spot starter Nestor Cortes on the hill tonight?

Yankees Will Likely Use Heavy Bullpen Innings

Cortes get the starting nod on Wednesday in what will amount to his third start of the season for the Yankees. Cortes has appeared in 10 games so far and been quite effective, compiling a 2.25 FIP and striking batters out at an impressive 11.1 K/9 clip. He’s also been very successful at limiting hard contact, allowing just 0.33 HR/9 and a miniscule 4.6% barrel rate to opposing hitters.

That said, he’s yet to pitch more than 4 2/3 innings so far this season, so it’s unlikely that we see Yankees manager Aaron Boone push him much further than that. From there, he will be forced to turn the ball over to a struggling bullpen that has been more of a liability than not over the last few weeks. Despite their struggles, they still rank as one of the best units in baseball this season, collectively pitching to a 3.76 FIP, the fourth best in all of baseball.

Cortes will also have the advantage in this one against a Rays team that has struggled against left-handed pitching so far this season with just a .298 wOBA in such situations. That ranks as the fifth-worst mark amongst all teams.

Wacha Has Struggled For Rays

Michael Wacha will take the hill for the home team in what has been a season to forget so far for the veteran starter. Over 66 2/3 innings, Wacha has pitched to a 5.08 FIP, allowed 1.90 HR/9 and has seen his strikeout rate fall to 7.7 K/9, which is down from an average of 9.8 K/9 just a season ago.

The underlying numbers are not much better. Wacha has allowed a sky-high 43.1% Hard Hit rate (per Stat Cast) and 10.3% Barrel rate to opposing hits so far this season. No matter how you look at it, Wacha has not been effective at all in 2021.

Tonight, he takes on a Yankees team that has been just league-average so far against right-handed pitching, compiling a .310 wOBA so far (15th in MLB). They have been hitting the ball a bit better of-late, however, averaging nearly 4.5 runs per game over their last ten outings.

The Rays bullpen is a strong spot, however, so if the Yankees are going to score in this one, it will likely have to be early and often. Over 423 2/3 innings so far this year, they’ve pitched to a 3.40 FIP, the best mark in all of baseball.

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Yankees-Rays Pick

While the Yankees have struggled to gain momentum within the division in recent weeks, I think there’s value on them here tonight as the underdog.

Even with what ends up being a makeshift lineup most nights, the Yankees still have enough firepower offensively to take advantage of a struggling Wacha here. Cortes has proven this season that’s he’s more than capable of putting together strong performances, particularly against a team like the Rays that struggles with left-handed pitching.

The dominance of the Rays bullpen, coupled with the recent shakiness of the Yankees relievers, makes this a bit dicey for the full-game line, though. As a result, I’m going to be looking to take the Yankees F5 line and take advantage of the mismatches that will be widespread in the first half of this game. I like this play as long as the Yankees are receiving plus money, but I’d shy away if the line ends up shifting in the opposite direction.

Pick: Yankees F5 Moneyline

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