Entering MLB action on Sunday, New York Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole, the highest-priced pitcher of all-time, was the betting favorite at Caesars Sportsbook to win his first American League Cy Young Award. However, Cole was blasted by the Cleveland Indians and is now a +240 second-favorite behind Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Robbie Ray (-275). He takes the mound for the first time in that role Monday at the Tampa Bay Rays. Toronto is a short favorite on the MLB odds.
Cole was hammered for a season-high-tying seven earned runs – also tied for the second-most he has allowed in his career – as New York was routed 11-1 at home by the Indians. Cole was booed off the mound as the Yankees lost for the 15th time in 22 games since their 13-game winning streak. The Yanks are now 1.5 games behind the Red Sox for the second AL Wild-Card spot.
Toronto holds the top Wild-Card spot by a game over Boston – the winner of the AL Wild-Card game probably would face the Rays in the AL Division Series as Tampa Bay has a 3.5-game lead over Houston for the AL's best record.
Ray is 12-5 with an MLB-best 233 strikeouts and an AL-best 1.01 WHIP as he looks to become the first Blue Jay to win the Cy Young since the late Roy Halladay in 2003. Ray has struck out at least 10 in five of his past six starts. He dominated the Rays last Wednesday in Toronto, allowing one run and four hits over seven with 13 punchouts. He is 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA and 0.71 WHIP in five starts this year vs. Tampa Bay. Ray picked a very good time for his best season as he's due for free agency this winter. He's "only" making $8 million this year.
Tampa Bay counters with one of the top pitching prospects in the sport in right-hander Shane Baz making his big-league debut. He's ranked as the No. 20 overall prospect by MLB.com. He helped Team USA get a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics and had a 1.57 ERA in five Triple-A starts since returning from there.
In 17 minor-league starts overall this year between Double-A and Triple-A, he was 5-4 with a 2.06 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 78.2 innings. Baz was scratched from his most recent scheduled start for Triple-A Durham due to back spasms, which also kept him from debut in the bigs last Friday.
Baz was part of one of the most lopsided MLB trades in years as he was the "player to be named later" in the Rays' deal with the Pirates on July 31, 2018. Tampa Bay gave up Chris Archer for Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Baz. Archer was a mega-bust in Pittsburgh and is in fact back with Tampa Bay (although on the IL). Glasnow was a top AL Cy Young candidate until getting hurt earlier this year. Meadows has 25 homers and 100 RBIs this year.
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