Two important four-game series start tonight in Major League Baseball: NL Central-leading Milwaukee visits second-place St. Louis, and the New York Yankees, the team with the best record in baseball, heads to Florida for four games with the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that has been a thorn in their side over the past few years.
Since the start of the 2020 season, Tampa Bay is 22-12 against the Yankees. That includes an AL Division Series win by the Rays in the 2020 postseason. While the Yankees and Boston garner all the headlines, Tampa Bay has been the most successful team in the division, winning the AL East in two-straight years and is the only team in the division to advance past the Wild Card round in each of the last three seasons.
The Brewers have a three-game lead over the Cardinals in the loss column going into this series, and both teams are coming off difficult matchups in San Diego and against Toronto, respectively. These two are far and away the best teams in the division, and they should both remain in contention for a playoff berth by beating up on the Cubs, Reds, and Pirates throughout the year.
With these matchups in mind, let’s get to tonight’s MLB best bets for the night around the baseball world.
New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays
The Bet: New York, -120 (Bet MGM)
The Yankees (31-13) overcame their first three-game losing streak of the season by coming back to beat Baltimore in extra innings on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday to get back on track going into this big series in St. Petersburg. The Rays come in at 26-17, having won four straight at home after a sweep of a two-game series with in-state rival Miami.
Both teams can hit the ball, but even with Giancarlo Stanton on the injured list, we favor New York tonight due to the pitching matchup. Nestor Cortes is 3-1 with 1.80 ERA and a WHIP of 0.80 on the season. He’s coming off his worst outing of the year where he allowed three runs in five innings against the White Sox, but he was still strong in striking out seven batters and allowing zero walks, we don’t expect the one bad game to turn into a trend.
The Rays counter with Ryan Yarbrough (0-0, 4.20 ERA, 1.67 WHIP), who hasn’t gone past five innings this season, though he’s only allowed two runs in his last 12.2 innings after being shelled by Oakland early in the month.
Tampa Bay comes into this series healthier, as besides Stanton, New York has Joey Gallo, Josh Donaldson, and Aroldis Chapman on the IL, and they very well may take three of four in this series, but we like the Yankees in a lower-scoring affair tonight.
Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Bet: Under 7.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Milwaukee can hit home runs, but they have one of the lower batting averages in the league, and good pitching can shut them down. They face a good pitcher tonight in the form of Adam Wainright, who is 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA on the season. The veteran has allowed just three runs in his last 20 innings of work and was the winning pitcher in those games against Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Kansas City.
The Brewers have great pitching of their own, and they send Eric Lauer to the mound tonight (4-1, 2.16 ERA). Lauer has allowed one run or fewer in four of his last five starts, and he’s struck out 54 batters compared to just eight walks on the season.
Milwaukee has gone under the total in five of its last six games, including all three in San Diego earlier this week. The Cards went over in a 7-3 win over Toronto on Monday, but that game was 3-3 going into extra innings, and they scored just one run against the Blue Jays on Tuesday, so we feel this will be a low-scoring contest between division rivals.
Kansas City Royals vs. Minnesota Twins
The Bet: Minnesota -1.5, +115 (Caesars Sportsbook)
The Twins are pulling away a little in the AL Central, picking up where they left off in 2020 and showing that last year’s disappointing record may have been a fluke. Minnesota is 27-17 and 15-9 at home, and they have a chance to fatten up against last-place Kansas City, who is 6-13 on the road and have dropped six straight, including a three-game sweep by the Twins at Kaufmann Stadium last weekend.
Minnesota’s Devin Smeltzer takes the mound tonight, having made two starts since coming off the injured list to start the season. Smeltzer has gone five innings and given up one run in both starts this year, including in a 6-4 win over the Royals last Friday night.
The Royals are sending Daniel Lynch to oppose Smeltzer, and he struggled against the Twins last Friday, lasting just 3.2 innings and allowing four earned runs on five hits.
The Twins had a five-game winning streak snapped in a 4-2, 10-inning loss to Detroit yesterday. In their three wins over the Royals, they won two by more than one run and the third was a 7-6 win that saw them erase a 6-1 deficit by scoring five in the eighth inning and one in the ninth. We don’t see Minnesota having any trouble in this matchup tonight.