New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays Odds, Preview, Picks, Prediction — July 28

Yankees vs. Rays Odds

Yankees Odds +100
Rays Odds -120
Over/Under 8.5
Pitchers N. Cortes vs. M. Wacha
Time 7 p.m. ET
Odds accurate as of Wednesday, July 28 at BetMGM

MLB betting analyst Nick Galaida previews tonight’s Yankees vs. Rays primetime matchup, breaking down the odds along with his picks and best bets for AL East showdown. If you haven’t yet signed up at BetMGM Sportsbook, take advantage of our special MLB offer below!

Yankees vs. Rays Preview

Entering play on Wednesday evening, the Tampa Bay Rays hold a commanding four-and-a-half game lead on the first Wild Card spot in the American League playoff picture. Despite having preseason World Series odds that rivaled the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Yankees find themselves two-and-a-half games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild Card position as the MLB calendar prepares to flip to the penultimate month of its regular season.

Tonight, the Yankees and the Rays will face-off in the second game of a three-game, mid-week set at Tropicana Field. Yesterday, the Yankees welcomed Aaron Judge back into the starting lineup and took the opening game of the series by a final score of 4-3 behind a strong start from Jordan Montgomery. This evening, New York will open the contest with Nestor Cortes, who will be opposed by Michael Wacha.

Cortes has the same notable advantage that Montgomery possessed yesterday—he is left-handed. Thus far in 2021, the Rays rank 26th in OPS and 24th in ISO against southpaws. While Tampa Bay does walk at the seventh-best rate in the league against lefties, they also strike-out at an alarming 26.9 percent clip, which is the third-worst percentage in baseball. Part of the reason that the Rays struggle against left-handed pitching can be attributed to the type of contact they make, considering that they are 24th in line-drive percentage and 18th in hard-hit rate. Nelson Cruz has a .352 BA, .988 OPS, .231 ISO, and a 166 wRC+ against left-handers this year, so he is likely to help Tampa Bay improve upon these numbers somewhat. Still, he went hitless last night and baseball is a game unlikely to be won or lost on the shoulders of a single offensive player.

Cortes owns a 1.95 ERA, 2.59 xERA, and a 2.25 FIP across 27.2 innings of work this season. In two starts, he has allowed only a single earned run on four hits in 8.0 innings. He is unlikely to go deep into this game, considering that he has not faced more than 18 batters in any of his 10 appearances, but he should be effective for however long he remains in the contest.

His counterpart, Wacha, is less likely to be effective during his time on the mound this evening. To say that Wacha is a below league-average pitcher simply does not accurately convey just how bad he has been in 2021. On the year, Wacha ranks in the 26th percentile or worse in average exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, xwOBA, xERA, xBA, xSLG, barrel-rate, strikeout-percentage, whiff-percentage, fastball velocity, and spin rate on both his fastball and curveball.

Yankees-Rays Picks

The Yankees have been far from an offensive juggernaut through their first 99 games, but they rank a respectable 12th in OPS and 13th in ISO over the last two weeks. Bettors have to imagine that their offensive production will only increase now that Judge is back in the lineup.

The main concern backing New York in this matchup concerns their bullpen. Although the Yankees have not been awful in the late innings over the last month, their 4.22 bullpen FIP is significantly below that of the Rays, who own a 3.14 FIP since June 29. Zack Britton, Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Aroldis Chapman all threw 16 or more pitches in yesterday’s win. Fatigue could be a problem this evening if the game is close in the latter frames. Tampa Bay has all of their best arms rested and ready to go if they have an opportunity to protect a late lead.

Still, New York has a tremendous advantage in the starting pitching matchup in this one. The Yankees also have a much better offensive attack. The wrong team is favored in this contest. Back the Yankees at plus-money here.

Pick: Yankees ML (+110)

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Over/Under 8.5 Runs

Thus far in 2021, Tropicana Field has been the second-most pitcher-friendly park in Major League Baseball. However, it is unwise to bet on a low-scoring affair in this one with how bad Wacha has been on the mound lately. There is also some risk regarding the Yankees bullpen, meaning that the Rays could have run-scoring opportunities in the late innings tonight. Nine runs is not an automatic—even with bad pitching and good offense, but a small wager on the over makes sense tonight.

Pick: Over 8.5 (-110)

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Image Credit: Imagn

About the Author

  • Nick Galaida (nickgalaida)

  • A failed high school pitcher, Nick discovered that he has a higher aptitude for analyzing and writing about sports than he does playing them. To his friends, he is better known as “The Commish.” When he’s not organizing a fantasy league, placing a bet, or writing an article, he’s probably nose-deep in a book—further illustrating the point that his niche in this world is as a nerd rather than an athlete.


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