Free Picks: New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays

Yankees vs Rays Week 18
New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays, MLB, Tropicana Field

The New York Yankees (51-47) face the Tampa Bay Rays (60-40) for the first of three games on Tuesday, which marks the beginning of the final home series the Rays have against the Yankees during the 2021 season. Tampa Bay has won eight of 13 against New York this season, but only three of six on home turf. The Rays have been excellent at home overall, however, with a 30-18 record (third best in the American League).

Red-hot Rays favored in all-lefty matchup with Yankees

Tampa Bay has gotten the best of its AL East foes from New York this season, and they’ll hope for more of the same as -156 money line favorites (10Bet) among Tuesday’s MLB picks. The Yankees are +125 money line underdogs (10Bet) after starting their current road trip with a 1-3 record against the Red Sox.

On the mound in this matchup, Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan (4-3, 3.88 ERA) faces Yankees lefty Jordan Montgomery (3-5, 3.96). Obviously both guys throw with the same arm and their season stats are nearly the same, but there are a couple of notable differences.

For McClanahan, a rookie whose fastball routinely lights up radar guns with high-90s heat, this will be just his second start against New York. He was tagged for four runs on five hits in 3 1/3 innings back on June 2, taking the loss on that day. He’s been steady and strong lately, with a 3.08 ERA over his past five starts; he hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his past seven starts.

Montgomery has allowed three or fewer runs in each of his past six starts, but he has no wins to show for it. He’s actually winless in his past eight starts, with his last win coming against McClanahan and the Rays on June 2. Montgomery has already faced New York four times this season, and he’s coming off two beauties: he’s 2-0 with just two runs allowed (1.46 ERA) in his past two starts against the Yankees.

There are things to like — and not like — about both of these pitchers. McClanahan has really settled in as a rookie, but then again he still lacks experience. Montgomery has been excellent against the Rays lately, but he hasn’t won a game in almost two months.

Where we see the differentiator comes on the other side of the ball: One of these teams hits lefties quite well, and the other really, really does not. The Yankees rank 10th in the majors in batting average (.253) and 11th in slugging percentage (.428). The Rays, meanwhile, are 29th in batting average (.226) and 26th in slugging percentage (.380). That kind of difference stands out, and it makes the Yankees feel a bit less like underdogs than how they appear at sportsbooks.

New York still feels like a team that can get on a roll this season, even though their time is starting to run out. The poor performance last weekend in Boston came on the heels of a four game win streak, which had included two wins over those same Red Sox. So we’ll back the Yankees on the money line in this BetPicks prediction, banking that they can get the offense going once again while facing a lefty.

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  • New York is 5-5 on the money line in its past 10
  • The UNDER has cashed in six of the Yankees’ past nine games
  • Tampa Bay is 6-4 on the money line in its past 10
  • The OVER has cashed in five of the Rays’ past nine games

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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University).