New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays

New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays | 2021 MLB Expert Analysis

Written by on April 9, 2021

The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays met in last season’s AL Divisional Series, and the Rays knocked off the Bombers in a terrific five-game series. They meet for the first time since on Friday as the Rays have their home opener but are short underdogs on the MLB odds.

How to Bet Yankees at Rays MLB Odds & TV Info

Season Series

First meeting. Friday marks the fifth time the Rays are hosting the Yankees in the home opener, and they are 4-0 in those games with wins in 2004 (8-3 in Tokyo), 2009 (15-5), 2012 (7-6) and 2017 (7-3). The Rays went 8-2 against the Yankees in 2020 (3-1 at home, 5-1 on the road), the best winning pct. against them in franchise history and best in the majors since the 2013 Athletics (5-1) and 2013 Mets (4-0).

Why Bet on NY Yankees? | 2021 NBA Expert Analysis 

New York (3-3) was trying for a home sweep of Baltimore on Wednesday but lost 4-3 in 11 innings. The Yankees went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

In the bottom half of the 10th, the Yankees were down a run and to their last out when pinch-hitter Kyle Higashioka singled to right, allowing Tyler Wade to score just ahead of the tag at home plate. Down 4-3 in the bottom of the 11th, Brett Gardner bunted Gio Urshela over to third base with one out. DH LeMahieu then flew out to right, and Santander came up with a strike of a throw home to nab Urshela at the plate and end the game.

LeMahieu went 2-for-6 on Wednesday to bring his early season average up to .280. The 32-year-old reigning batting champion has yet to record an extra-base hit. Slugger Aaron Judge was out of the lineup due to “general soreness” in his left side. Judge is off to a great start this year, slashing .364/.391/.636 with two home runs and five RBI through five games and 23 plate appearances. Judge should be OK for Friday.

It’s new addition Corey Kluber (0-0, 2.25 ERA) on the mound, the former two-time Cy Young winner with Cleveland. Kluber threw four innings last Saturday against the Blue Jays, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out five. Kluber’s velocity rarely got much above 90 mph, down a few ticks from the average of 92.0 mph he managed in his last healthy season.

He showed a bit of wildness in the third inning, walking two batters and throwing a wild pitch before a throwing error by catcher Gary Sanchez led to an unearned run. He later allowed Marcus Semien to homer to lead off the fifth before being pulled from the game, having thrown 74 pitches.

Kluber is 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA (64.0IP, 19ER) in 10 career starts vs. the Rays. Seven of the 10 starts have been quality starts. He has held Rays batters to a .192 (43-for-224) opponents’ BA and has recorded eight-or-more strikeouts in six of his 10 starts vs. the Rays.

Why Bet on Tampa Bay? | 2021 NBA Expert Analysis

The 2020 AL Champion Rays eliminated the Yankees with a 2-1 win in the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS. Mike Brosseau hit a go-ahead, solo homer off Aroldis Chapman in the 8th inning to end a 10-pitch at-bat. It was his second time facing Chapman after he was nearly hit in the head by a 100.5 mph pitch on Sept. 1 at Yankee Stadium.

The Rays (2-4) enter on a four-game skid as they lost 9-2 in Boston on Wednesday to be swept in the three-game series. Third baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo went 1-for-4 with an RBI in the loss. Tsutsugo has endured a rough start to the season, and while he has recorded hits in back-to-back games, he has gone just 2-for-17 to begin his big-league career. He hit .318 (7-for-22) with two extra-base hits during spring training.

Tampa is without Gold Glove outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who landed on the 10-day injured list with a left quad strain this week. That injury has been an issue for Kiermaier dating back to Spring Training, something that flares up when he breaks into a full-on sprint. The Rays find themselves without Kiermaier, first baseman Ji-Man Choi (knee), high-leverage reliever Nick Anderson (elbow) and relievers Chaz Roe (shoulder) and Ryan Sherriff (restricted list).

If this game is close, it favors the Rays. Since the start of last season, the Rays are 25-11 (.694) in games decided by 2 runs (or fewer) and 15-6 (.714) in 1-run games (10-2 at home, 5-4 on the road), both of which are the best winning pct. in the majors.

It’s lefty and new addition Rich Hill (0-0, 9.00) on the mound. Hill allowed four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four over four innings in a no-decision last Saturday vs. the Marlins. Hill was not sharp, generating just two whiffs across 71 pitches during the contest.

Hill started the game with a leadoff walk to Miguel Rojas, single to Starling Marte, and a sacrifice fly to Jesus Aguilar before allowing two doubles and a single in the second. In the third Hill allowed a two-out home run to Garrett Cooper on a 66-mph curveball and capped things off by allowing another run to score in the fourth on a second sacrifice fly. The 41-year-old’s velocity was up a bit, registering at 88.8 mph as opposed to his average of 87.8 last season. It was the only the second time in his last 21 regular season starts that Hill allowed more than 3 runs, along with Aug 19, 2020.

Hill is 1-2 with a 4.79 ERA (20.2-IP, 11-ER) in 11 career apps (3 starts) against the Yankees. He last faced April 21, 2016 in the Bronx (with Oakland) and got the win.

Game Trends

  • Yankees are 2-5 in their last 7 vs. American League East.
  • Yankees are 2-7 in their last 9 road games vs. a left-handed starter.
  • Rays are 40-11 in their last 51 home games vs. a right-handed starter.
  • Rays are 7-2 in their last 9 Friday games.
  • Yankees are 2-9 in the last 11 meetings in Tampa Bay.
  • Yankees are 3-10 in the last 13 meetings.

Expert Prediction

  • Yankees 5, Rays 3

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