The Yankees and Rays have a recent penchant for being involved in relatively low scoring games and that could continue at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg Monday.
There could be a relatively low scoring affair in an American League East battle down in the Sunshine State Monday night when veteran southpaw C.C. Sabathia and the New York Yankees (78-64, 37-32 away) pay a visit to right-hander Erasmo Ramirez and the Tampa Bay Rays (69-73, 33-35 home) at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL at 7:10 ET in a game available on YES.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 8 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -119.
Yankees Focused on Wild Card?
The Yankees avoided getting swept in a four-game series at home by the white-hot Toronto Blue Jays by salvaging the series finale in the Bronx 5-0 on Sunday, but losing three out of four in that series leaves New York 3½ games behind Toronto. That is certainly not an insurmountable deficit, but the fact that then Yankees have had trouble beating the Blue Jays head-to-head may leave them concentrating more on the wild card race.
The Yanks do still own the first wild card spot by three games over the second wild card the Texas Rangers, but New York is also only four games ahead of the Minnesota Twins and thus that close to being out of the playoffs as it begins this nine-game road trip that ends with three games in Toronto.
The Rays have been disappointing MLB picks this season at four games under .500 and in fourth place in the division 12½ games behind the Blue Jays. However, believe it or not the Rays are not totally out of the wild card picture, although their chances are bleak with Tampa Bay sitting six games behind Texas with four other teams between those two clubs.
Can C.C. Break Through with Win?
Sabathia is currently on the longest winless stretch of he long career as he is 0-1 with a 4.43 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break, with his last win coming over the Oakland A’s in his last start before the break back on July 8th. However, to be fair he has had some bad luck while receiving seven no-decisions in those last eight winless outings as he has actually allowed two earned runs or less on five of them while not getting much support.
Looking at the entire season, C.C. is 4-9 with an ugly 5.16 ERA, but he actually has a good ratio of 118 strikeouts vs. 40 walks and his velocity is improved this year after he had trouble hitting 90 MPH while bothered by a troublesome knee that eventually required surgery in his injury-shortened season of a year ago. His biggest bugaboo in 2015 though has been surrendering 26 home runs in 25 starts.
Still, that may not be as much of a concern here as the Rays have hit a mere 43 home runs vs. left-handed pitchers all season, and Sabathia now has the benefit of facing a Tampa Bay lineup batting just .219 and averaging only 3.27 runs vs. southpaws over the last 10 games.
Ramirez Great at the Trop
Ramirez had proven to be quite serviceable for the Rays this year, going a good 10-5 while pitching for a team with a losing record. Granted his ERA is not great at 3.95 overall, but it has been a different story here at Tropicana Field where Ramirez has a stellar 2.71 ERA and 1.02 WHIP with a very nice accompanying ratio of 46 strikeouts vs. just 16 walks.
Erasmo is certainly a contact pitcher, but he makes up for it by owning the best groundball rate among the Rays’ starting pitchers at 47.9 percent. Ramirez has also sparkled in his two starts vs. the Yankees this season, going 2-0 while allowing a grand total of just one run and four hits in 11 innings.
He now gets to face a Yankees’ lineup that is batting just .220 vs. right-handed pitchers in the last 10 contests and he has the support of a Tampa Bay bullpen that has posted a 2.57 ERA over that same 10-game span.
An ‘under’ Series Overall
Finally, this has been a fairly low scoring series with the ‘under’ going 9-3-1 in the last 13 head-to-head meetings overall. Additionally, the ‘under’ is 29-13-3 in the Rays’ last 45 games inside the American League East, as well as 15-6 in the Yankees’ last 21 games inside the division.
We look for more of the same here with the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays continuing those strong ‘under’ trends down in St. Petersburg on Monday.
MLB Pick: Yankees, Rays ‘under’ 8 (-119)