New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Pick 7/5/19
New York Yankees (56-29) at Tampa Bay Rays (50-38)
When: 7 p.m., Friday, July 5
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Moneyline: NYY -115/TB +105 (5Dimes)
Runline: Yanks -1.5/Rays +1.5
Starting Pitchers: Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 3.74 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) vs. Brendan McKay (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP)
New Face on the Mound
Tampa Bay’s first-round draft pick from 2017 is now in the majors, and if his first start is any indication, the numbers he put up at the lower levels were no fluke. Brendan McKay has divided his time between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham before reaching the Rays, and he’s yet to take a loss this season, going 3-0 at both levels and posting a combined 1.22 ERA. In his first start in the big leagues, against Texas, McKay was dominant, holding the Rangers to just one hit in six innings and picking up the victory.
The Yankees present a stiffer challenge for the 23-year-old, but McKay’s got an edge in that many of the Yankees haven’t seen what he offers. The one problem for the young pitcher is that two of the Yankees’ best hitters, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, went down to the Yankees’ Triple-A squad on a rehab assignment and have seen McKay once before on June 15. That encounter went to McKay, as Judge and Stanton went a combined 0-for-8 in that contest.
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While the Rays send a new man to the mound, the Yankees bring back a familiar face and one that Tampa Bay probably wasn’t anxious to see again for a while. Masahiro Tanaka was outstanding the last time he faced the Rays, striking out 10 and holding Tampa to two hits in a complete game shutout. In fact, Tanaka has already met the Rays three times this season, and each time, he has been lights out on the mound, keeping Tampa Bay to 10 hits and one run in the three games combined. The only time the Rays have scored off Tanaka this year, the Yankee offense more than came through, handing the Rays a 7-1 defeat.
But Tanaka has not been himself in the Yankees’ past two games. One of the two was the Britain disaster when Tanaka lasted just two-thirds of an inning in what became a 17-13 Yankee win over Boston. The other wasn’t a poor performance in terms of the score, but watching Tanaka scatter eight hits is a little more than Yankee fans are used to seeing from him. Is he the same pitcher who has baffled the Rays all year, or are things starting to turn?
The Yankees have been great either at home or on the road, which is why they own the American League’s best record. At 25-15 away from Yankee Stadium, the Yankees are 10 games above .500 on the road, better than anyone except Minnesota’s 28-18. The Yankees play in the tougher division, however, making their mark on the road slightly more impressive of the two.
This series has resembled the days when the Rays were the Devil Rays this season. Tampa Bay is just 2-8 against the Yankees and has dropped five straight against New York. The Rays simply have to get things turned around if they’re going to keep pace with the Yankees in the race for the AL East…and hold off the likes of Boston, Oakland, and Texas for the wild card.
- The Yankees are 6-1 in their past seven road games.
- The Yankees have won Tanaka’s past four starts.
- The Rays have won their past four games against a right-handed starter.
- The Rays are 1-9 in their last 10 against a team above .600 on the season.
- The over is 4-0 in the Yankees’ past four against the AL East.
- The over is 8-1-2 in the Rays’ past 11 home games against a team above .600 on the road.
Temperatures will be high, but under the dome of Tropicana Field, the temperature won’t be a factor.
The Yankees are simply playing great baseball at the moment, and the Rays look like a good team that’s going to be good enough to beat the bad teams and not good enough to best the elite squads. McKay could be a star in the making, but one game isn’t enough to trust him when Tanaka has handcuffed the Rays all season long. Eventually, Tampa Bay will learn to hit Tanaka, but I don’t think this is that day. Give me the Yankees to keep things rolling against the Rays.
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