Rays’ AL East Division Odds Still +170 Despite Sitting First in the Standings

Closeup of Austin Meadows on the bases

Austin Meadows at the Tampa Bay Rays sit first in the AL East after completing a sweep of the Yankees on Thursday, Aug. 20. Photo by Keith Allison (flickr).

  • The Tampa Bay Rays swept the New York Yankees in their mid-week series
  • The Rays are now 6-1 against the Yankees this season
  • The Yankees are a combined 15-3 against every team not named the Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays are making their move in the American League East. They’ve won five straight while the New York Yankees have dropped three in a row, which has landed the Rays in first place.

Despite the change at the top of the standings, New York remains a heavy favorite to win the AL East.

Is now a good time to bet on Tampa Bay to win the division? Let’s take a closer look at this race.

2020 American League East Odds

Team Odds at FanDuel
New York Yankees -210
Tampa Bay Rays +170
Baltimore Orioles +4500
Toronto Blue Jays +4500
Boston Red Sox +9000

Odds as of Aug. 20, 2020.

Rays Rolling, Dominating Yankees

The Rays have been playing well all season long, but they’ve particularly enjoyed facing their chief rival in the American League East. On the year, the Rays are a healthy 17-9, a record that is buoyed by a 6-1 mark against the Yankees. That means they’re just 11-8 against everyone else.

Of course, the top priority for keeping the Yankees in check is making sure that their hitters aren’t connecting. The Rays’ pitching staff has done a great job of that, holding the Yankees to just 3.42 runs per game (despite giving up eight in the Aug. 8th meeting). The Rays have held the Yankees to three runs or fewer in five of their seven contests.

What are we to make of this? On the plus side, for the Yankees, they only have three more meetings with the Rays this year. They 15-3 against non-Tampa Bay teams and are 1-6 against Tampa Bay. Maybe the fact that they won’t be seeing much of them for the rest of the year is a good thing.

2020 World Series Odds Tracker

Rays Have a Soft Schedule Coming Up

The Rays, who were 6-8 at one point this season, have now won 11 of their last 12 games. They have a great opportunity to keep their momentum going given what’s coming up on their schedule. Their next nine games are against Toronto, Baltimore, and Miami. As much as those teams have overachieved this season, none should be feared.

After that, the Rays play three more against the Yankees and then three more against the Marlins. As a matter of fact, if you look at the Rays schedule the rest of the way, they only have three games versus a team that currently has a winning record – the Yankees – every other foe they are slated to face is at .500 or worse.

Rays Offense Is Overachieving

While many assumed that the Rays would be a pitching-oriented side, it’s been their offense that has led the way. Taking a look at the August numbers, they are third in on-base percentage and OPS. Their pitching has actually been a disappointment, as opponents are batting .269 against them this month (24th in MLB).

With the Rays still winning games while their pitching struggles, they could have room for improvement. Starters like Tyler Glasnow (6.00 ERA) and Charlie Morton (5.40 ERA) are way off of their 2019 numbers, and Blake Snell is still being used sparingly; he hasn’t lasted more than 5.0 innings in a game. If that improves, this team could be even better.

What’s the Best Bet?

It’s still early in the year but this is a short season. At this point, it looks like the Rays are going to – at worst – be a big thorn in the Yankees’ side and – at best – be a team that wins the division. With the Yankees dealing with injuries to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and the Rays playing really well, Tampa Bay is worth a bet at +175.

The MLB divisional odds show the Rays being a reasonably-sized dog here but they’re in first-place right now. With an easy schedule the rest of the way, they have a good shot to win this division.

Author Image

David Golokhov

Entertainment NFL NBA MLB NHL Golf Tennis MMA Sports Writer

Entertainment NFL NBA MLB NHL Golf Tennis MMA