Tampa Bay Rays vs New York Yankees, AL Divisional Series: Tips, Odds & Predictions

Rays vs Yankees AL Divisional Series
Tampa Bay Rays vs New York Yankees, MLB, AL Divisional Series

The Tampa Bay Rays held the best record in the American League this season, running away with the AL East by seven games over their opponent in the AL Divisional Series, the New York Yankees. New York was a streaky team the entire season with multiple winning and losing streaks of five or more games, and had to fight at the end to maintain their spot in the postseason. These two teams met 10 times as divisional rivals and Tampa Bay won eight of those games this season, the first time it has won the season series in six years.

Tips & Predictions

Tampa Bay is the team no one really talks about because the Rays don’t have a superstar and they don’t play that flashy style of baseball that draws eyeballs. Yet the Rays allowed the fourth-fewest runs per game in the MLB and had the third-best ERA among the 30 teams. They allowed three runs or fewer in almost half of the 60 games they played this season and were 25-2 in those situations. Offensively, Tampa Bay had five batters with at least 20 RBIs this season and there were four players with batting averages of .269 or higher. In the wild-card round, we saw both sides of the Rays in their sweep of the Blue Jays. They were able to stay patient and poke through some runs in the seventh inning to win a pitcher’s duel in Game 1 then they exploded for six runs in the second inning of Game 2 to take control and cruise to the series victory.

The Yankees have always been known for their offense and this season is certainly no exception to that rule. When New York is at its best, the bats are smashing home runs seemingly at will and they are demoralizing teams by sending balls out the ballpark. Luke Voit led the majors with 22 home runs and he was fourth in the MLB with 52 RBIs as well to lead the powerful Yankees lineup. However, if the balls aren’t flying over the walls then it feels like New York’s offense grinds to a halt. They hit just six home runs in an eight-game stretch in early September and lost seven of those games. They immediately followed that by hitting 27 home runs over the next eight games and won all of those contests.

It is quite frankly embarrassing how much the Yankees are favored to win this series because I expected the New Jersey online sports betting sites to show more respect to the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa Bay won eight of the 10 games it played with the Yankees this season held that vaunted offense to three runs or fewer seven times. Cole made 12 starts this season for New York, including three against Tampa Bay, and the Rays had at least six hits off him each time, the only team to do so this season. Tampa Bay did not happen into being the No. 1 seed in the American League by accident, and it is great news for bettors that the MLB playoffs betting market doesn’t realize that. I’m not bold enough to predict a Rays sweep, but I think Tampa Bay wins in four games, which you can bet on at +450 odds.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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