Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays v.s. New York Yankees

After taking two of three from the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees (58-56) will head back to the Bronx for a weekend series against the last place Tampa Bay Rays (46-67). The last time these two teams faced off, the Yankees were swept, and ultimately made sellers at the trade deadline. The Yankees will look a bit different this time around, with A-Rod leaving after Friday’s game, and youngsters like Gary Sanchez and either Tyler Austin or Aaron Judge occupying roster spots.

Julie Jacobson - AP Photo

Players to watch

  1. Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod has been treated quite unfairly ever since announcing his forced retirement. Manager Joe Girardi has been hesitant to put him in the lineup, saying that the team’s effort to win is more important than his farewell tour. With the Yankees playoff chances incredibly slim, it is only fair to put A-Rod in the lineup everyday leading up to his release from the Yankees. Sure, Sanchez or Brian McCann are better DH options, but Rodriguez is one of the greatest hitters of all time. He deserves one last shot.

  1. Gary Sanchez: The young backstop is 9 for 24 with three doubles, four RBI’s and one home run since his callup. That is serious production for the 23-year-old that had been raking at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this year. While it’s a small sample size, it sure looks like the highly touted prospect is the catcher of the future. He’s gotten regular playing time and some great starts at catcher in his time so far, so look for him to continue his fantastic MLB debut this weekend.
  1. Tyler Austin or Aaron Judge: I know, neither of these two prospects are on the MLB roster right now, but one will be by Saturday. With A-Rod’s final game on Friday, there will be an open roster spot. Austin and Judge are the logical candidates to be called up, but it’s a tossup on which one will get the call. Austin has put up impressive numbers this year with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, with a slash of .327/.418/.643. Judge would be the flashier move, as he has long been a fan favorite, but he also has the numbers to warrant a call up, with a .263 average, 18 HR’s and 63 RBI’s.

Keys to Victory

  1. Find a way to beat Chris Archer: Yes, Chris Archer has 15 losses. No, he is not a bad pitcher. In fact, he’s been fantastic in his past three outings, with a 2.21 ERA and 21 K’s. He’s dominated most of the Yankees’ lineup the past few years, with Jacoby Ellsbury being the lone one who’s had success against him. Don’t let the numbers fool you, Archer is one of the top starters in baseball. He’s stuck on a bad Tampa team that can’t give him much run support. Maybe it will be one of those nights where we see the Yankees beat up on an ace, or it could be a night in which they promptly get dominated.

  1. Start the young guys: And why shouldn’t they? Look at other team’s in the league, most are fueled by a few young stars. Gary Sanchez has earned his place on the roster, and he looks like a future star. Aaron Judge or Tyler Austin could be next, and they will surely bring some pop to a lineup that has, for the most part, lacked any power at all. Luis Severino will probably be back soon, after he refines his changeup. At this point, it isn’t necessarily about winning, despite what Joe Girardi has said. It’s about seeing which young guys will fit into the future core.
  1. A good start from C.C: The big lefty has not been effective on the mound lately. His ERA now sits at 4.18, and he hasn’t made it out of the 6th inning in his two August starts. He has a 6.62 ERA since June 22nd. That is a number he will have to switch if the Yankees want to take this potentially important game.

Game 1 (8/12) 7:05 PM: Chris Archer (6-15, 4.26 ERA) v.s. C.C Sabathia (6-9, 4.18 ERA)
Despite his ugly numbers this year, Archer has struck out 168 batters this year, second in the American League. As stated before in the Keys to Victory, Archer has done well in his last three starts, with a clean ERA of 2.21. He’s dominated the Yankees in the past, but the Yankees have had their way with him before. Jacoby Ellsbury owns a .643 average in 28 at-bats against him. For C.C Sabathia, he’ll be searching for an answer on the mound, as he has struggled mightily recently. He’ll have to limit the damage that 3B Evan Longoria inflicts, as he owns a .432 average against.

Mike Stobe - Getty Images

Game 2 (8/13) 1:05 PM: Matt Andriese (6-3, 2.90 ERA) v.s. Masahiro Tanaka (8-4, 3.32 ERA)
The relatively unknown Matt Andriese has actually had a solid season thus far. The owner of a 2.90 ERA, Andriese will be facing a Yankee lineup that has had success against him in limited at-bats. Masahiro Tanaka had been scuffling, but bounced back when he tossed six innings of one run ball with eight K’s against the Cleveland Indians. He’ll look to carry that momentum into Saturday’s start. Against Tampa’s current lineup, Tanaka has done exceptionally well.

Game 3 (8/14) 1:05 PM: Jake Odorizzi (6-5, 3.69 ERA) v.s. Luis Severino (1-7, 6.42 ERA)
Jake Odorizzi has done very well against the Yankees this year, pitching to a 1.12 ERA and a 1-1 record against them. He’s stifled the Yankees offense so far this year, and will look to continue doing so on Sunday. As of Thursday night, the Yankees haven’t announced who will start this game. With Nathan Eovaldi’s elbow injury sending him to the DL, Luis Severino will have the ball for the Yankees in the series finale. Severino had success in the bullpen with the Yankees but struggled in his return to the rotation in Boston. He will look to get back on track against a lackluster Rays offense.

The Yankees should win two out of three against the lowly Rays. But, they’re the Yankees. They were supposed to sweep them or win two of three to be buyers at the deadline, but instead got embarrassingly swept. All three Rays’ starters are beatable, and the Yankees’ offense must take advantage. It won’t be easy for the Yankees to win the series though, when you consider C.C’s recent struggles and a mystery arm for Sunday.

Article by: Phil Akre
Follow me on twitter @PhilAkre
Follow the BBB @BronxBomberBlog


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