The New York Yankees finished up their worst month in over 30 years, and now they begin September in St. Petersburg, Florida for a three-game series against their closest rival and team that has given them the most trouble over the past few years.

Yankee fans were hopeful that the team would turn its fortunes around after a two-game sweep of the New York Mets last week, but New York was a disappointing 3-4 in a West Coast road trip against losing teams Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels.

The Tampa Bay Rays, six games out in the American League East, host the Yankees for three games this weekend and then play three at New York next weekend.

What Do the Yankees Need to Do This Weekend?

New York’s lead over Tampa Bay was 15.5 games on Aug. 1. Since then, the Rays have made up nine games in the loss column to sit just five back in that department. The Rays had the American League’s best mark in August at 18-9, whereas the Yankees’ 10-18 record in the month was only better than the last-place Detroit Tigers (9-18).

The Rays, however, were struck a blow when pitching ace Shane McClanahan went to the injured list last week with a shoulder injury. Even though he may miss just the minimum 15 days, the injury will take him out of pitching against the Yankees in the two upcoming series.

While Boston gets the publicity, Tampa Bay has been New York’s chief rival in the past few seasons. The Rays have made the playoffs in three-straight seasons, including winning the AL East in both 2020 and ’21. In the 2020 AL Division Series, Tampa Bay beat the Yankees in five games after Aroldis Chapman gave up a late home run that was the difference-maker.

The Yankees are 8-5 against Tampa Bay this year but were nearly swept in a three-game series when the teams met last month in the Bronx. Only a Josh Donaldson extra-innings grand slam kept New York from going 0-3 in that series.

While not ideal for Yankees fans, even just one win this weekend will knock a few games off the schedule without too much damage being done. Winning two out of three would be an acceptable situation for the team, as they could escape the weekend by gaining a game over their rivals.

Yankees Slight Underdogs on Friday Night

Here are the odds for this contest, courtesy of DraftKings:

TeamMoneylineOver/Under TotalRun Line
New York Yankees+1197+1.5 (-200)
Tampa Bay Rays-1277-1.5 (+165)

After a disastrous start to his season by allowing five runs in three innings at Houston in July, German has allowed two or fewer runs in all but one of his seven starts since. The other start, however, was allowing three runs in just 4.2 innings of work against the Rays on Aug. 17.

Springs got lit up in Boston last week (five runs in six innings pitched), but he has been good in two outings against New York this year–a combined three runs allowed in 11 innings pitched with 10 strikeouts against just one walk.

The Yankees will be without Anthony Rizzo, who has remained in California for tests due to injury, and the Rays are without several pieces of their offense, including Wander Franco and Brandon Lowe.

For that reason, we lean toward the under and like the Yankees to show some resolve and win this game outright as slight underdogs.

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