Already missing star shortstop Wander Franco, second baseman Brandon Lowe, catcher Mike Zunino, closer Andrew Kittredge (out for season), a few other relievers and two starting pitchers due to injury, the Tampa Bay Rays have added two-thirds of their starting outfield to the injured list today in leading hitter Manuel Margot and former Gold Glove winner Kevin Kiermaier. Going up against Yankees Cy Young contender Nestor Cortes tonight, the Rays are +155 home underdogs at Caesars Sportsbook. (See tickets at StubHub)
Margot has never hit better than .269 in a season but is at a team-best .302 this year, although he has had some trouble staying on the field with a total of 51 appearances. In the ninth inning of Monday's loss to New York, Margot crashed into the right-field wall while chasing an RBI triple by the New York Yankees' Aaron Hicks. It immediately looked bad and Margot was taken off the field on a cart.
He's expected to miss significant time. The Rays announced that the results of Margot's MRI are still pending and are continuing to refer to it as a "knee sprain" for the time being, but the fear is a torn ACL. Kiermaier (.229, seven HRs, five steals) has been dealing with Achilles inflammation but had to leave Monday with what is now being called hip inflammation.
To replace those two on the roster, the Rays called up outfielder Luke Raley and infielder Jonathan Aranda from Triple-A Durham. Raley got 66 at-bats last year with the Dodgers, while Aranda has never played in the big leagues. Tampa Bay hasn't released its lineup yet tonight so not clear if either will play immediately.
Presumably, Randy Arozarena, Josh Lowe and Brett Phillips will start in the outfield because the Yankees are starting such a tough pitcher in Cortes, who is a +450 third-favorite to win the AL Cy Young (Tampa's Shane McClanahan, who took a ND on Monday, is the +375 leader).
Cortes (6-2, 1.94 ERA) is 2-0 with 1.35 ERA in two starts spanning 13.1 innings this year vs. Tampa Bay. Both starts have come within the past month. Cortes has allowed more than three earned runs just once this season. Virtually none of Rays batters have good numbers against him and only Yandy Diaz has homered.
Tampa Bay will go with an opener in Jalen Beeks (1-1, 1.29 ERA) in his second consecutive "start" vs. the Yankees. He held them scoreless over two innings last Thursday in the Bronx. Ralph Garza (0-1, 3.27 ERA) likely will be the primary arm behind Beeks. The Rays have held the top offense in the majors to 24 runs in eight games this year but are 2-6 vs. New York.
MLB free pick: Yankees -170
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