MLB Regular Season

Matchup: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees

Date/Time: July 3, 7:05 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Chris Archer (9-5, 2.31) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (4-3, 3.88)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: New York -120

Total: 7

After getting completely shut down by the Cleveland Indians starting rotation, things don’t get any easier for the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night. The Rays will draw New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka in the first game of a three-game weekend set between these two AL East rivals. Four teams are separated by just a couple of games in the AL East race and the recent struggles by the Rays offense have dropped them to fourth in the division. This is a big holiday weekend series at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees lead the season series 6-4 over the Rays, with a +12 run differential. The Yankees swept Tampa Bay to open the season series at Tropicana Field April 17-19 and won the lone series at Yankee Stadium this season. The Yankees enjoyed Thursday by taking the day off after a seven-game swing to Houston and Anaheim. The Yankees went 3-4 on that trip.

The Tampa Bay Rays did next to nothing offensively against the Cleveland Indians earlier this week. Cody Anderson, Danny Salazar, and Carlos Carrasco took perfect games into the sixth inning. The Rays scored four runs off of reigning Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, but still lost the series finale in extra innings. The Rays have now scored just 99 runs over their last 30 games. James Loney and John Jaso could return over the weekend and inject some life into a struggling offense.

The saving grace for the Rays on Friday will be the starting pitcher. Chris Archer has been outstanding and could very well be the current favorite to win the Cy Young Award. Archer has struck out over 31 percent of the batters that he has faced and has held the opposition to a .198 batting average against. Archer’s 5.32 K/BB ratio ranks 12th among qualified pitchers and his 2.46 FIP ranks third behind Max Scherzer and Chris Sale. Rookie manager Kevin Cash has not allowed his starters to go through a lineup three or four times very often this season, but Archer is one that has earned that right.

The Yankees have quietly had success with the same offensive approach that worked for them in their heyday. They rank sixth in BB%, walking 8.3 percent of the time, and have hit 104 home runs. Only the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays have hit more this season. The Yankees rank fifth in slugging percentage, due in large part to a healthy season from Mark Teixeira and a visit to the fountain of youth from Alex Rodriguez. Brett Gardner has 33 extra-base hits and a .304 batting average as the catalyst of the offense.

Masahiro Tanaka is still trying to work through the UCL damage that cost him the second half of his rookie season and has limited him to nine starts this season. Command has been an issue for the Japanese import. His swing-and-miss stuff is still there, but he has allowed 10 home runs in 53.1 innings. In 2014, Tanaka allowed just 15 home runs in 136.1 innings. Six of those home runs have come in Tanaka’s last two starts, as he has allowed 13 runs on 17 hits over 10 innings against the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros. The Yankees bullpen has been very solid this season, but Andrew Miller remains out with an injury, which was part of the reason why reliever turned starter Adam Warren was sent back to the bullpen.

Free MLB Prediction: New York Yankees

The Rays are in the middle of the pack in hitting home runs this season, but they also swing and miss quite a bit. That was evident this past week against the Indians and now the Rays have to go up against another tough customer. The Yankees showed a lot of resolve with an important win to end their road trip and can start the homestand off on a positive note by beating one of the game’s best in Chris Archer.