These teams are defnitely familiar with one another. In a normal season I think division rivals play 18 or 19 times, but in this abbreviated season they still played 10 times in just 60 games. Tampa definitely got the best of the Yankees during the regular season going 8-2. The most recent of those games was the first week of September though.
Since then the Yankees have gotten healthy with sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton returning to the lineup. Either one of those would have been a great bet to lead the league in homers, but instead it was unheralded Luke Voit that leads the Majors this season with 22. The theme of this series is definitely going to be offense vs. defense and in the playoffs, pitching and defense usually carries the day.
Tampa used that strategy throughout the short regular season and it paid off with the best record in the American League. Now we are getting this series in the bubble in San Diego and it feels like anything can happen.
New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays Betting Analysis:
Gerrit Cole vs. Blake Snell
Money Line: New York -145, Tampa Bay +125
Gerrit Cole has had a lot of success over the last few seasons and the Yankees signed him just for games like this. He was dominant in winning game one against Cleveland and the short series and days off allow him to be ready for this one. The price on this one is in-line with what it was during the regular season when Cole made two starts against the Rays. The team was 1-1 in those games and he did not pitch particularly well, never getting past the fifth inning. His 4.2 innings against Tampa on Aug 8th was his shortest start of the season.
Blake Snell was even more brilliant in his playoff start against Toronto – just one hit allowed in almost six innings. He also had two starts against New York this season and the Rays won both. They were short outings, but that is the norm for Snell. He has not pitched even 6 innings in a game this season. In those two games against the Yankees the Rays were favourites which makes them an intriguing case here as that is not the case.
Though I can see the case for Cole and the Yankees I think that Tampa is the value side. They are getting that plus money when in reality this one should probably be about even. They are not going to be playing in Tampa but that stadium was not really an advantage, no matter what their record says. Tampa might not be explosive on offense, but they get the job done. They will have the last at bat and no matter how big the names are in the bullpen for New York, Tampa has the best pen in the Majors.
The low total I think also corresponds with a Tampa win. The Yankees have gone over in Cole’s last three starts, scoring 13 runs twice and 12 once. An explosion like that would definitely be a rarity against Tampa. During the regular season these teams split on overs and in only three of those games did the wining team score 6 or more runs. Twice that was Tampa and given we are playing them at plus money you could get a win above and miss on the total and still come out ahead. With both teams rested and in fine form and all of their best arms available the under is the best play.
Take the Under.
Score Prediction: Tampa 4 – New York 2