The defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays open their home schedule with a series against the New York Yankees beginning on Friday afternoon. Tampa Bay could use some home cooking, as it comes into this game on a four-game losing streak.
The Rays started the season with two straight wins over Miami but lost the series finale against the Marlins, then were swept by the Red Sox in a three-game series. After giving up just four runs in its first two games, Tampa Bay has allowed 38 runs in its four losses.
New York hasn’t started its season much better than Tampa Bay, going 3-3 in two home series. After dropping two of three to Toronto, the Yankees won their first two against Baltimore easily before dropping the series finale on Wednesday.
Looking at the MLB odds for this one, the visiting Yankees have the favorable moneyline at -150, while the Rays are at +135. The over/under has been set at 8½ runs.
New York Yankees Look For More
Corey Kluber makes his second start with New York in this one, having gone just four innings in his Yankees debut. Kluber gave up just one earned run on five hits, including a home run, while striking out five and walking three in a victory over Toronto.
Kluber needed 74 pitches to get through those four innings. After he pitched just one inning for the Rangers last season, the two-time Cy Young Award winner was shut down with a shoulder injury, so the Yankees are being cautious with him in the early going. Kluber turns 35 on Saturday.
Right fielder Aaron Judge has been New York’s most consistent hitter in the first few games, as he’s hitting .364 in 22 at-bats. Judge is tied for the team lead with two home runs and five RBI, though he’s also struck out four times.
Designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton is hitting just .238, but one of his hits was a home run, and he’s tied with Judge for the team RBI lead with five. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu is batting .280 with two RBI and five walks.
Tampa Bay Rays’ Cold Start
The Rays are batting just .208 as a team this season, ranking 13th in the American League in the category. That’s compounded by a team ERA of 5.87, which is 27th in all of baseball.
Rich Hill is hoping for a better start in this one than his first appearance with Tampa Bay. The 41-year-old Hill lasted just four innings against Miami in his first start of the season, allowing four earned runs on five hits, including a home run. He’s struck out four and walked two and comes into this one with a 9.00 ERA.
Hill was 2-2 in eight starts with Minnesota in 2020, notching a 3.03 ERA with 31 strikeouts and 17 walks in 38⅔ innings.
Strikeouts have been a problem for Rays batters this season, with every player with double-digit at-bats this season notching at least two strikeouts. Left fielder Randy Arozarena is batting .300 but has just one extra-base hit (a double) with one RBI and a team-high seven strikeouts.
Designated hitter Austin Meadows is batting just .182, hitting two home runs to lead the Rays but also striking out six times. Outfielder Manuel Margot is tied for the team lead with five RBI and is batting .300, but he also has four strikeouts.
The Rays weren’t expected to be the same team as last season in 2021, but they have fallen way off in a hurry. Tampa Bay pitchers have struggled, and facing the potent Yankees lineup isn’t going to help matters.
Kluber is still considered one of the top pitchers in the American League, and he should be able to rack up a few strikeouts against the slumping Tampa Bay lineup. Look for him to get his first win in pinstripes in this one.
When doing your MLB betting, go with the visiting Yankees to get the victory.
Pick: New York Yankees -150