The second game of this three-game American League East series between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays may feature the worst pitching matchup but will still be televised nationally on ESPN at 7 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday. The Rays (19-11) dropped their third game in a row with a 5-3 loss in the series opener on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium and also saw their seven-game series winning streak against New York (16-13) come to an end.
New closer David Robertson finished off the game to earn his first save for the Yankees in place of future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, who suffered a torn ACL on May 3 and is out for the season. The game also featured five home runs, including two by New York designated hitter Raul Ibanez. The Yankees also got a homer from outfielder Curtis Granderson while the Rays saw catcher Jose Molina and DH Luke Scott each hit one out of the park.
Tampa Bay will turn to starting pitcher Jeff Niemann (2-3, 4.05 ERA) to try to get back on the winning track, and he has pitched very well vs. New York during his career, making this an even more tempting bet. Niemann is 3-0 in five career starts against the Yankees, going 3-0 with a solid 3.10 ERA. The only real negative for him in this situation is that he has yet to win a game away from home this season, going 0-3 with a 4.02 ERA even though he has not given up more than three earned runs in any of his three road starts. Niemann has not managed to pitch a full six innings in any of his five starts overall either, which is also a little concerning.
However, New York starter David Phelps (0-1, 3.74) will be making only his second career start and lacks a lot of experience to be considered in this spot as a -125 favorite. Phelps surrendered two runs and six hits in four innings of a 4-3 loss at Kansas City on May 3 in his first career start, and the longest he has pitched was 5.1 innings out of the bullpen in a 7-1 home loss to the Los Angeles Angels on April 13. The rookie has served up five homers in his last five appearances, and he will be facing a Rays team that is tied for fourth in the majors with 39.
Considering the pitching matchup and the fact that the Rays are tied for the second-best record in the AL, there is some good value on them here as the better team and at a nice underdog price.
Free Baseball Pick: Tampa Bay Rays +115