Both American League Division Series match ups are between division rivals. The more intriguing series is taking place between two AL East teams who don’t like each other very much.
The Tampa Bay Rays dominated the New York Yankees, taking the season series 8-2. But the Yanks are playing their best baseball of the season heading into the postseason series.
Even with Tampa Bay having the best record in the AL, New York has a better chance to head to the ALCS, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Here are the odds:
- New York Yankees: -148
- Tampa Bay Rays: +120
Why the Yankees can win
The Yankees were built to mash the ball more than anybody else in the league. They have 94 home runs and have scored 315 runs in the regular season. That’s 26 more than the Rays were able to get across this season. New York is getting hot at the right time. In their sweep of the Cleveland Indians, they scored 22 runs over the two game series. Looking up and down their lineup there’s guys who will make pitching staffs squirm, like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Luke Voit.
Stanton and Judge both played less than half the season, and missed seven and six games against Tampa respectively. But they’re both in the lineup now and combined for four walks and two RBI over their two game sweep.
The Yankees pitching staff is headlined by Gerrit Cole. He’s been virtually unhittable down the stretch. In his last four regular season outings he has a 1.00 ERA. With a few off days until the series begins, Cole should be able to start Game 1 and Game 5, if needed. So if New York is really in a jam, they have one of the strongest pitchers in the league to hang their hat on.
Why the Rays can win
The Rays do everything extremely well. It’s the reason they won the AL East and finished the season with the best record in the American League. They feature a staff that has flame thrower Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow. The Rays throw a lot of fastballs and basically challenge opposing players by saying, “I don’t think you can hit this.”
Offensively, the Rays kind of just do enough to win. No one players stats are going to jump off the page at you for doing anything incredibly well. They just have solid bats up and down the lineup and nobody is really an easy out.
They’re also fortunate enough to play this series at Petco Park in San Diego, which is one of the most pitcher-friendly stadiums in baseball. That will no doubt hurt the home run-dependent Yanks more than it will the do-everything-well Rays.
The Yankees will be at full strength for the first time this season while playing the Rays, which is the reason why they’re favored in this series. But the Rays have proven that they’re a team to be reckoned with on a consistent basis this season. They really haven’t slumped at all. The Yankees on the other hand are just hoping the team’s newfound health in the lineup can carry them to the ALCS.
For that reason, I’m taking the Rays.