All lines subject to change.
The New York Yankees return to AL East play on Friday as they travel to Tropicana Field to take on the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees enter the three-game series against the Rays with a record of 9-3 which is four games better than the Rays’ 5-7 record on the year. Despite the four-game difference, the oddsmakers are billing this contest as a fairly even matchup, with the Yankees opening at -112 and the Rays at -106, as of Friday morning on DraftKings. Veteran Masahiro Tanaka will start for New York while Blake Snell will take the mound for the Rays.
Now for every day Yankees bettors, this line seems like a steal and one that should be hammered. However, oddsmakers don’t give away anything for free, and if the line is this close, there must be a good reason. At first glance, Tanaka’s veteran presence is overshadowed by the fact that he’s only pitched 2.2 innings this season and recorded a 3.38 ERA in the lone start. This lack of recent exposure could be what’s setting the line as close as it is, however, Snell hasn’t produced great numbers so far this season either.
The lefty for the Rays comes into Friday’s contest with a 0-0 record after two starts. He’s pitched five innings between the two starts, but in those games posted a 5.40 ERA with nine strikeouts. Snell has faced the Yankees 16 times throughout his career and has compiled a 3-6 record in those games with a 4.41 ERA, which isn’t a terrible ERA but certainly isn’t anything to rest your hat on.
As far as the bats are concerned, Tampa Bay is near the bottom of the rankings so far in 2020. The Rays currently rank 24th in the MLB as far as batting average is concerned with a .211 average, while the Yankees are 4th in baseball with a team batting average of .257. In their last two games against the Phillies, the Yankees failed to score more than four runs despite scoring at least five in the seven games prior. As a result, the over under for this game is low at just 8 total runs between the two teams.
Tanaka is still working through a minor concussion injury he suffered in practice on July 4 and will most likely only pitch 3-5 innings. Still, Tanaka’s injury when considered alongside Snell’s poor record vs the Yankees does not seem like enough to warrant any kind worry given the strength New York has in their bullpen.
Simply put, this game seems like one where oddsmakers are doubtful about the pitchers’ talents and perhaps just as doubtful about both teams’ ability to produce runs. I expect a low scoring game, but think the Yankees should easily get the win against a struggling Snell.
That being said, my best value play of the day would be for the Yankees to lead early on. The Yankees moneyline through the first three innings sits at +105 and through five innings is at +104 on DraftKings. Given the pitching matchup I can definitely see one of these sides taking an early lead but am inclined to believe that Tanaka will hold his own. However, certainly if the full game moneyline adjusts throughout the day and sees the Yankees on the plus side, then its time to break out the toolbox and hammer the Bronx Bombers. It’s not often that we see plus money for one of the best teams in baseball, and if today is that day, you won’t want to miss out on a rare opportunity.
Best Bet Play of the Day – Yankees Moneyline First 5 Innings +104
Photo: Bill Kostroun/Associated Press