Things are starting to get a little testy in the Bronx. Big picture, the Yankees are still in great shape with a 72-43 record and a 10-game lead in the AL East with 47 games to go in the season, but a closer look reveals a juggernaut that has started to show some cracks in its armor.
Despite their significant drop in form — the Yankees are 8-15 since the All-Star Break and 2-7 in their last nine games — the Bombers are still the joint-second-favorite to win the World Series with the Houston Astros at +400 and are slightly favored over Houston to win the American League pennant.
If things don’t start to turn around, however, the Yankees will find themselves sitting behind the Astros for the first time since the early part of the spring.
On Monday night, the Yankees begin a nine-game homestand as -250 favorites over the Tampa Bay Rays
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Yankees vs. Rays odds
Odds provided by Caesars
Spread: NYY -1.5 (-115) vs. TB +1.5 (-115)
Moneyline: NYY (-250) vs. TB (+205)
Total: Over 7.5 (+100) | Under 7.5 (-120)
Yankees vs. Rays prediction
Since the All-Star Break, the Yankees have been underwhelming in every area of the game, but the pitching staff is coming under some severe scrutiny thanks to a 4.76 ERA in that span. That number puts them 23rd in the MLB since the Midsummer Classic, though their 3.85 xFIP does suggest that the Yankees have performed better than their ERA implies.
It’s a similar story for Gerrit Cole, who will get the nod against Rays’ opener Jalen Beeks on Monday night. Over his last four outings, Cole has posted a 5.04 ERA and has allowed a .276 batting average against. But if you look beyond Cole’s back-of-the-baseball-card numbers, everything actually checks out just fine.
Not only does Cole’s 2.54 xFIP over his last 25 innings of work suggest he’s due for some positive regression, but he’s also still doing the things that make him an elite front-line starting pitcher. Cole is striking out plenty of batters (11.16 per 9 innings), he’s walking fewer than usual, and his average exit velocity during his current rough patch is actually lower than his season-long average. Baseball is a random sport, and right now, it just seems Cole isn’t getting the bounces as he’s allowed a .365 BABIP (league average is about .289).
This is nothing new for Cole, whose season-long ERA (3.38) is more than a half-run above his xFIP (2.67).
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The Rays will counter Cole with a bullpen game led by Jalen Beeks. While Beeks has been effective this season with a 2.35 ERA in 46 innings, the Tampa Bay bullpen is middle of the pack with a 3.42 ERA and 4.01 xFIP.
Going up against an average offense — Tampa has a .301 wOBA and 101 wRC+ on the season — and taking on a bullpen that has not been overly impressive, back Cole to set the Yankees up for a blow-out win in the Bronx.
Yankees vs. Rays MLB pick today
The Bet: Yankees -2.5 (+150) — Caesars Sportsbook