Thanks to seven innings of one-hit ball from Tyler Glasnow, the Tampa Bay Rays (79-52) evened up their weekend series against the New York Yankees (62-67) on Saturday. These AL East rivals will face off one more time in the rubber match on Sunday afternoon, with first pitch from Tropicana Field set for 1:40 p.m. ET. New York will give the ball to lefty Carlos Rodon (1-4, 6.27 ERA), while the Rays counter with Zack Littell (0-0, 9.00).
Tampa enters as -135 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Yankees at +114. The run total is set at 8.
Rays-Yankees picks: Sunday, August 27
Out: 1B Anthony Rizzo (concussion symptoms), OF Billy McKinney (back), SP Nestor Cortes (rotator cuff), 3B Josh Donaldson (calf)
Out: INF Taylor Walls (oblique), OF Manuel Margot (elbow), RP Kevin Kelly (ankle)
Carlos Rodon vs. Zack Littell
Rodon finally took a step in the right direction last time out, going six innings with one run allowed on six hits against the Nationals (although he struck out just one batter, as he’s still looking for the explosive four-seamer he’s exhibited the past couple of years — the pitch didn’t earn a single swing and miss). When the lefty is at his best, he’s routinely placing that fastball up and above the strike zone, but with so much time missed due to injury this year, his command hasn’t been nearly what it was.
Littell isn’t the flashiest pitcher, but he’s been solid since injuries forced him into the Rays rotation, with a 3.52 ERA over four starts this month. The righty allowed four runs over 5.1 innings against the Rockies last time out, but that’s a bit misleading: His line would have looked a lot better were it not for some shaky defense and two inherited runners being allowed to score in the sixth inning. When Littell’s keeping his fastball up and his splitter down, he’s a perfectly serviceable arm.
This is a low number, but the first two totals in this series have been eight and three — and I’m backing the under again on Sunday. The Yankees have been quite literally the worst offense in baseball against right-handed pitching over the last two weeks, with a measly .175/.262/.308 slash line and a 30% K rate that’s the highest in the Majors. (Just ask Tyler Glasnow, who allowed just one hit over seven innings in Saturday’s win.) Rodon could give up a crooked number to spoil things, but if he keeps it together, Littell should be more than good enough to keep us below this number.
Pick: Under 8
Unless Gerrit Cole is on the mound, it’s just way too hard to trust the Yankees against a team with any sort of a pulse. Rodon has gotten hit very hard when he’s been healthy this year, and Tampa ranks in the top five in team OPS against lefties over the last two weeks — unless Littell melts down (not very likely given New York’s lineup right now) the Rays should wrap this homestand with a series win.
Pick: Rays -135