The New York Yankees will host the Tampa Bay Rays in the finale of their three-game series on Sunday. The Rays took the opening game of the series 8-2 as a +151 money line underdog on Friday and won the second game 6-3 as a +103 dog. The Rays have now taken five out of the last six head-to-head games against the Yankees in this rivalry. Joey Wendle and Manuel Margot both hit their second home runs of the season, and Francisco Mejia hit his first homer of 2021 to lead the Rays in victory on Saturday.
Rays going for sweep over YankeesAfter Saturday's win, the Rays are 7-8 on the season, second in the AL East, 3.5 games behind first-place Boston. The Rays are averaging 4.3 runs per game and are 21st in MLB with a .222 batting average. Joey Wendle leads the Rays with a .319 batting average, and Austin Meadows has a team-best three home runs.
Ryan Yarbrough is expected to either start or pitch most of the game following an opener for the Rays on Sunday. He is 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA in three starts this season. In 2020, Yarbrough was 1-4 with a 3.56 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 11 games and nine starts. Yarbrough was hammered for 10 hits, and six earned runs on Tuesday, over six innings of work in the Rays 8-3 loss to the Texas Rangers. Yarbrough did not face New York last season but has faced them six times in his career and has a 3-2 record, 3.15 ERA, and 1.20 WHIP.
Series win ✅ pic.twitter.com/l4UmYtT1Ft— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 17, 2021
The Rays relief pitchers had a stellar 2020 season, posting a 25-11 record, 3.37 ERA (third in MLB), and .233 opponents batting average against them. This season, the bullpen hasn't been as stable, posting a 3-4 record, 5.72 ERA (28th in MLB), and a league worse .294 batting average against. Tampa Bay's defense ranks 25th in baseball with -3 defensive runs saved on the season.
Cole looks to end Yankees four game skid754After suffering their fourth straight loss on Saturday, the New York Yankees are 5-9 record, currently the worst record in the American League. According to Odds Shark, despite the losing record, the Yankees still have the second-best odds in baseball to win the World Series at +650 behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Yankees are 24th in MLB, scoring 3.8 runs per game and 25th batting .217. DJ LeMahieuleads, the team with a .288 average, and Aaron Judge, is batting .277 with a team-best four home runs, adding eight RBI. Giancarlo Stanton has two homeruns and 11 RBI.
Rougie's 1st in pinstripes. pic.twitter.com/8Ve1oNdtQi— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 17, 2021
Gerrit Cole, who is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA and 0.82, is scheduled to make his fourth start of the season Sunday. He has a 29 to 3 strikeout to walk ratio on the season. In Cole's last outing, he held the Toronto Blue Jays to one earned run in six innings of the Yankees 3-1 win last Monday. In 2020, Cole made three starts against the Rays and went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA. The defense behind Cole has -6 runs saved this season, only the Seattle Mariners have been worst.
- Tampa Bay is 7-2 against the run line in their last 9 games against the Yankees
- Yankees are 1-7 in their last 8 during game 3 of a series.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Yankees have a significant advantage with Gerrit Cole on the mound, but the oddsmakers have compensated for that, making the Yankees a hefty -240 money line favorite. In 2020, Cole was excellent and only posted an ERA worse than 1.90 against one team that he pitched at least six innings or more against, and that team was Tampa Bay at 4.96 during the regular season. Including the postseason, the Yankees were just 2-3 against the Rays in Cole's starts, but 7-2 in all of the starts that Cole made against other teams.
Based on the value and Tampa's recent success against Cole and the Bronx Bombers, I am taking the Rays for plus money to keep the outcome of this game at least within a run.
Full-Game Total Pick
The Yankees bats have struggled recently, failing to score more than four runs in any of their last five games. Fortunately for New York, they have Cole pitching, who has not allowed more than two earned runs in a start this season. The first two games of this series went over the total, but I think things are set up for a lower-scoring contest on Saturday. Take the under.