Yankees vs. Rays MLB Preview and Free Pick

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Jeffrey Springs #59 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays. Julio Aguilar/Getty Images/AFP

The Tampa Bay Rays have enough hidden value for your MLB picks this Friday when they host the first-place New York Yankees.

New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Friday, May 27, 2022 – 07:10 PM EDT at Tropicana Field

Yankees vs. Rays: Analysis

The Tampa Bay Rays are at it again. Despite spending just $86 million on payroll this season (No. 25 overall), and despite drawing just 12,717 fans per game (No. 27) to the worst ballpark in the majors, the Rays are well on their way to making the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

They might have to settle for a Wild Card, though. The New York Yankees are bossing the American League East this year, powered by their $248-million payroll (No. 3) and the support of 36,500 fans per game (No. 4).

George Steinbrenner would be proud. As fate would have it, these two teams are in the middle of a four-game set at the Trop – their first encounter of the 2022 campaign.

And go figure, the MLB odds at press time are about as even as they can get, with the Rays checking in as +100 home dogs at BetOnline.

That’s a very tight line according to FiveThirtyEight’s projections. They’ve got Tampa winning this game 49 percent of the time; that 7.5-run total at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review) appears bang-on as well.

But maybe the computers and the marketplace have overlooked the Rays in this situation.

Is Fading The Public a Scam?

Of course not. Sportsbooks may be more likely these days to base their odds on the projections, and then shade them a bit so they’re on the sharp side right from the get-go.

But the books still have an incentive to move those MLB lines and squeeze the most value they can out of the betting public.

Yankees Conquering the Second Place

Baseball teams don’t get much more public than the Yankees. According to the interwebs, New York finds itself second only to the Los Angeles Dodgers on the public money charts.

Fans in the Bronx have made a healthy profit thus far; at some point, the books will dump enough chalk on the Yankees to earn all that money back – and more.

Rays Upper Middle Class Public

As for the small-market Rays, they’ve drawn a fair bit of action thus far. People might not care to see them live in St. Petersburg, but that hardly seems to matter in this day and age (cough cough streaming cough).

Still, Tampa finds itself in the upper middle class when it comes to public money, well behind the decadent Yankees. Maybe they have some built-in value at +100.

FiveThirtyEight Legitimacy

As legit as you’ll get for free. Nate Silver and his crew are serious about advanced sports statistics – baseball in particular.

But FiveThirtyEight isn’t the only one out there; ESPN’s Baseball Power Index pegs Tampa’s chances of victory at 58.2 percent for Friday’s matchup.

That’s a bit more promising for the underdogs. Of course, you might have your own MLB power rankings if you’re a serious handicapper, or you might be willing to pay for someone else’s proprietary information.

MLB Stats and Projections

The betting pick in this space is free, though, so we prefer to use freely available stats here at the home office; this also allows you to check our references, and see how the sausage is made.

Whatever the case [rimshot], it’s nice to have multiple sources to work with, whether it’s projections or stats – or online sportsbooks for that matter.

If all our sources were as optimistic about Tampa’s chances as ESPN, we’d definitely suggest pounding them at +100; that 58.2 percent works out to –139 when you run it through the unwavering BMR Odds Converter.

As it is, we can only recommend a small wager for what appears to be a small profit margin on the Rays. Don’t forget the mantra: Big edge, big bet. Small edge, small bet. That’s just science.

Who’s Got the Pitching Advantage?

Once again, it’s a toss-up on paper, but maybe with a slight lean towards Tampa. Jeffrey Springs (2.38 FIP) is en Fuego for the Rays, although his .215 BABIP allowed and 87.4 percent strand rate are both likely to regress.

Compare and contrast Jameson Taillon (3.23 FIP). He’s also pitching some of his best balls ever, and his .301 BABIP allowed isn’t nearly as concerning from a regression standpoint; Taillon’s career average is .300.

Put those numbers through the blender, and FiveThirtyEight has Springs ranked a mere three Elo points higher than Taillon heading into this contest.

This isn’t much when you consider that 25 Elo points are worth approximately one run on the scoreboard.

Yankees vs. Rays: Who to Bet On?

Naturally, just as I was ready to send this betting pick your way, the Rays moved from +100 to -112 at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review).

You can still get Tampa -107 at Heritage Sports, but now it’s even more important to keep your bet size small. Le sigh.

MLB Pick: Rays (-107) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Rays (-107)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.