New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Pick 9/25/19
New York Yankees (102-56) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (94-64)
When: 7 p.m., Wednesday, September 25
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Moneyline: NYY Off/TB Off
Runline: Yankees Off/Rays Off
From Out Of NowhereWell, now the Yankees have officially come full circle as far as their pitching goes. They’ve gone from playing against the opener strategy to using the approach themselves to using it against the team that came up with it in the first place. Loaisiga has actually had some success as the opener as of late, giving up just a single run in his past three appearances. That’s a marked change from where he was just a month ago when he got tattooed in consecutive appearances against the Mariners and the Indians. Since returning from a trip to Oakland, however, he has played his role well, as the Yankees have won in six of his past seven appearances.
The Battle Is JoinedThe Rays are in a remarkably tight battle with both the Indians and the Athletics, where only two of the three can make the postseason. Tampa Bay has the toughest single game of any of the three, and after this one, it gets much easier. If the Rays can get past New York one more time, they’d go into their final series with Toronto knowing that a sweep of the hapless Jays would be enough to get them into the postseason with no worse than the tiebreaking game. How Tampa Bay responds to the pressure is another matter. While the Indians have won the AL Central three years in a row and Oakland was in the AL Wild Card game last year, Tampa Bay hasn’t qualified for the playoffs in five years. The Rays could find themselves out of the running with a single loss, a difficult situation for a team that’s never faced it before.
Veteran PresenceBut if there’s one thing that helps mitigate that, it’s having a pitcher who has seen all of this before. Charlie Morton hasn’t just been in a pressure situation before; he’s faced the ultimate pressure of pitching in the World Series and come out with a big victory. The former Astro seems to be saving his best stuff for when his team needs it the most, having pitched his team to a win in his last four starts and giving up no more than five hits in any of those starts. With Morton on the mound, the Rays have only had to concentrate on getting him at least two runs of support. In August and September, Tampa Bay is 6-3 with Morton starting, and in each of his three losses, the Rays scored a run or less. When he’s had two runs of support or more, the Rays haven’t lost in 11 appearances, dating back to June 26 at Minnesota.
The HistoricalsIf the Rays do miss the playoffs, one of the reasons will be their struggles against the Yankees. New York is 12-6 this season against Tampa Bay and pounded the Rays all year in the Bronx, taking eight of their ten matchups in Yankee Stadium. If you’ve done the math, you know that means their games in St. Petersburg have been a coin flip, with each team claiming four victories to their name.
- The Yankees have won 13 of their past 16 Wednesday games.
- The Yankees have dropped Loaisiga’s past four starts.
- The Rays have won Morton’s past four starts.
- The Rays are 8-1 in their past nine home games against a team that’s above .500 on the road.
- The under is 9-1 in the Yankees’ past ten against a team above .500.
- The under is 5-1-1 in the teams’ past seven meetings.
Tampa Bay has to have this game to keep pace with Cleveland and Oakland, but the Yankees are still playing for something here, for the time being. Given that Houston is 1.5 games ahead of New York, the Yankees have every motivation to keep playing their best and chase down the Astros for the top seed in the AL playoffs.
However, I have to go with the pitcher that I trust the most. The reality is that I don’t really trust the Yankees to go deep into their bullpen after a 12-inning game the day before. The Yankees had to do it, but it’s probably going to backfire on them in this game if any of their pitchers get into trouble. Conversely, the Rays throw Morton. Morton has been here before and knows what it takes to get that critical result.
I’m going to say that he does get that result here and gets the Rays into the final series needing only a sweep to guarantee a playoff spot. Give me the Rays here.
STOP LOSING TODAY! START WINNING WITH DOC'S TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS! GET A FREE NO STRINGS ATTACHED $60 FOR THIS WEEKEND'S GAMES!