MLB Pick on Tampa Bay Rays as Underdogs in the Bronx

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, April 27, 2015 4:05 PM GMT

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We are not so sure the home team deserves this much favoritism Monday night when Nathan Karns and those Tampa Bay Rays (11-8, 5-2 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Adam Warren and the New York Yankees (11-8, 4-5 home) in the first game of a three-game series from Yankees Stadium in the Bronx, NY at 7:05 ET in a game available on YES.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Tampa Bay as a road underdog for this contest at current odds of +129.


Two Surprising Teams Battling for First Place
These two teams were expected to have down seasons this year, but both are surpassing expectations so far with identical 11-8 records and the winner of this contests will actually be in sole possession of first place in the American League East, a seemingly watered down division this year that certainly seems up for grabs.

The Yankees have to guard against a bit of a letdown after being the winning MLB picks in two of the three games of the Subway Series vs. the New York Mets this past weekend, a series that had added meaning this season with the Mets owning the best record in the Major Leagues. The Rays did the Yankees one better this weekend by sweeping a three-game series from the Toronto Blue Jays down home in St. Petersburg.


Five Straight Wins for Rays
That makes it five straight wins for Tampa Bay after winning the last two games of its previous series vs. the Boston Red Sox also back home. This winning streak began with the last start made by Karns last Wednesday, although he did not pitch well and did not factor in the decision after allowing five runs on seven hits including two home runs plus four walks in six innings.

That marked the second straight start that Karns has issued four walks and allowed two home runs as he did the same thing vs. these Yankees in St. Petersburg in his previous start, but at least he was able to offset the walks in that game with seven strikeouts in five innings. Karns is not short on ability but he needs to cut down his walks to be a viable Major League starter, and he needs to improve to avoid losing his rotation spot to one of the rehabbing Rays’ starters.

The good news for Karns is that improvement is quite possible vs. a Yankee lineup batting just .228 vs. right-handed pitchers here in the Bronx this early season, and New York is batting .204 overall vs. right-handers over the last five games. Karns also has the support of a Tampa Bay bullpen that has improved over that same last five-game span posting a 1.62 ERA and 0.54 WHIP in 16 innings during this period.


Neither Starting Pitcher Impressive
This is actually a matchup of two struggling starters with Warren being only 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.60 WHIP himself with a mere six strikeouts in 15 innings vs. an alarming eight walks. The one thing that Warren has done better than Karns is keep the ball in the yard allowing a reasonable two home runs, but we still do not feel he is good enough to be a decided favorite like this.

Besides, both home runs that Warren allowed over his first three starts came vs. these Rays in his start against them in Tampa Bay on April 17th, when he was touched up for four earned runs on six hits including those two dingers plus two walks while laboring through 80 pitches in only four innings.

And that was when the Rays were not hitting well, which has not been the case during the five-game winning streak over which Tampa Bay is batting .314 as a team while averaging 6.69 runs per game, averaging 7.54 runs per nine innings vs. right-handers in the process!


Both Teams Better on the Road So Far
And curiously, both of these teams have played better on the road with Tampa Bay going 5-2 outside of St. Petersburg and the Yankees being only 4-5 here in the Bronx. Interestingly this is the first outdoor game for the Rays this season as they play there home games in a dome and their two road series so far have also been in domed stadiums, but they have not minded the Bronx air in the recent past going 12-4 in their last 16 games in Yankee Stadium.

Look for that pattern to continue at a nice underdog price for what looks like a relatively even pitching matchup, with Tampa Bay emerging victorious in New York on Monday.

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MLB Pick: Rays +129