Showdown for AL East Rivals
Not long ago it wasn’t so much a question of whether the New York Yankees were going to win the American League East as much as a case of how many games the second-place team would finish behind them.
The Tampa Bay Rays head into this weekend’s series just 4½ games behind the Yankees even though New York has won four straight games before Thursday’s 4-3 loss in the series finale against the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees lead the American League with 48 home victories while Tampa Bay is just 30-34 on the road.
This sort of game is why the Yankees made the move to acquire former Oakland Athletics pitching ace Frankie Montas. His most recent start came against the Rays, when he allowed one hit with seven strikeouts in five innings. He was 0-2 with a 7.01 ERA in his first five starts with New York.
According to the MLB playoff odds, the Yankees (+500) are second to the Houston Astros among American League teams in the odds to win the World Series. The Rays come in at +3300.
What a Run for Rays’ Rasmussen
Since the start of August, Drew Rasmussen has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. He has allowed one run or less in five of his last six starts.
Rasmussen had a 4-1 record and 1.57 ERA in six starts in August. He has 33 strikeouts and four walks in 34⅓ innings during that stretch. However, that is just part of the good news. Rasmussen and his wife celebrated the birth of his son, Rhett. He was recently placed on the paternity list but appears on pace to make his scheduled start in Friday’s season opener.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) September 8, 2022
If he is good to go, it would be Rasmussen’s first appearance against the Yankees this season. His lone outing in three seasons against New York came in 2021 when he allowed two hits, no runs and struck out three in 2⅓ innings in an extra-inning loss on July 28.
The Las Vegas odds total has gone under in four of Tampa Bay’s last five games.
Judge Keeps Dialing Long Distance for Yankees
Thanks to the legendary Babe Ruth and then with the duo of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle during the unforgettable 1961 season, the New York Yankees have been known as the franchise where home run hitters come to perform.
Aaron Judge is the modern day slugger who is stealing the show in the Big Apple. He has 55 home runs in 134 games. At that pace, he would finish with 65 home runs.
He is the sixth American League player with at least 55 home runs and is six shy of matching the AL record of 61 set by Maris in 1961. Six of his home runs have come against Tampa Bay, so this upcoming series could have Judge getting closer to the 60-homer mark.
He has hit 42 home runs against right-handed pitchers and he will be facing a righty in the series opener.
Perhaps the most impressive number for Judge is that the next closest player in the majors in the home run category is Kyle Schwarber of the Philadelphia Phillies with 36. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, who according to the MLB betting lines is his only significant competition in the AL MVP race, is the closest American League player with 33 home runs.
The MLB betting lines total has gone under in 13 of the last 19 games for the Yankees.
Rays vs Yankees Head-to-Head
The Yankees have won nine of the 16 meetings with the Rays in 2022. Seven of those games have been decided by one run with the Yankees taking five of those. The tide has turned recently with four of the last six games won by Tampa Bay.
The Yankees have won four of the six games played at Yankee Stadium.
Catcher Francisco Mejia leads Tampa Bay with a .324 average while Yandy Diaz is setting the pace with 15 hits and 10 RBIs.
The Yankees have hit 17 home runs against the Rays in 2022 with six of them coming off the bat of Judge.
Rays vs Yankees Game Information
- Game: Rays 77-58 (second, AL East) vs Yankees 83-55 (first, AL East)
- Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
- Day/Time: Friday, Sept. 9, 7:05 p.m. ET
- Rays vs Yankees Live stream: MLB.tv
Take a Look at Other Analysis, Picks & Predictions for Yankees vs Red Sox
- Yankees vs Red Sox Prediction, Game Preview, Live Stream, Odds & Picks Sept. 14
- Yankees vs Red Sox Prediction, Game Preview, Live Stream, Odds & Picks, Sept. 13
Rays vs Yankees Betting Lines
|Tampa Bay Rays
D. Rasmussen -R
|+1½ -240||-105||7 -120o||3½ -105o
|New York Yankees
F. Montas -R
|-1½ +200||-105||7 Evu||3½ -105o
Rays vs Yankees Prediction
A month ago, this figured just to be another routine September series. However, the hard-charging Tampa Bay Rays have changed all of that. Since the MLB All-Star Game, the Rays have cut 8½ games off the Yankees’ lead in the AL East. If Tampa Bay can win this series, things will get even more interesting.
Tampa Bay could get a lift as infielder Wander Franco is expected to return to action for the first time since July 9. The Yankees will be without Anthony Rizzo, who is second on the team with 30 home runs.
Something to consider for those who bet online: The total has gone under in five of the last seven games between the division rivals.
Both pitchers have the ability to dominate. However, the total of seven is a little on the low side even if the Rays and Yankees are 17th and 20th in the majors in runs scored since the All-Star break. This series is much more important to Tampa Bay than New York, and with the way Rasmussen has been pitching, it is hard to pick against the visiting Rays.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.