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Series Preview: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays (7/23-7/25)

Following their rain-shortened two-game series split against the Mets at home this past weekend, the Yankees head down South for three days to face the Rays in Tampa Bay.  Tropicana Field has, in a way, been a house of horrors for New York, having gone just 4-9 at The Trop since the beginning of 2017 including an ugly three-game sweep just a month ago. The Yankees will begin play today at 63-34, five full games behind the first place Red Sox.  Tampa Bay comes in at 50-49, 19 games out of first and 9.5 games back of Seattle for the second Wild Card position. With trade rumors swirling for both squads and the teams headed in opposite directions, this series provides a key opportunity for the Yankees to get back on track and put pressure on Boston to once again close up the AL East race.

Should the Yankees have protected Tyler Webb?

With the upcoming Rule 5 draft just a few weeks away the Yankees had to make some decisions on which Rule 5 eligible players should be protected. The Yankees eventually decided to protect shortstop Jorge Mateo, third baseman Miguel Andujar, and pitchers Dietrich Enns, Giovanny Gallegos, Ronald Herrera and Yefrey Ramirez. Because of their healthy minor league system, the Yankees were going to have to leave some of their prospects unprotected and exposed to the Rule 5 draft, thus the penalty for having a good farm system.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

Because of the tight roster spots, the Yankees left reliever Tyler Webb was left unprotected. Webb, a left hander with a big frame of 6’6”, 225 lbs, was selected in the tenth round of the 2013 draft out of the College of South Carolina, the same alma mater of pitching prospect Taylor Widener who I wrote about last week. In 2016 Webb posted a 4-3 record with a 3.59 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 72.2 innings across 36 games and five starts. Webb projects to be a reliever at the big league level as he has had better success in that role (2.65 ERA in 31 relief appearances in 2016). Webb has also only relieved up until this year when Scranton Wilkes-Barre needed him to start a couple games due to the lack of starting pitching depth. Take away Webb’s five starts this season and Webb has a career 2.94 ERA in 214.2 minor league innings. Webb has also had some closing experience in the minors has he has successfully converted 18 saves in 24 opportunities.

As a big lefty reliever at the cusp of the major leagues, Webb is most likely to be taken in this off season’s Rule 5 draft and could very well stick with the club that chooses him. Even though the Yankees are deep in the reliever department, I personally think Webb should have been protected. The biggest reason is because I think a big left handed reliever like himself could find success in the major leagues and establish himself as a trusted reliever. While Webb doesn’t throw terribly hard for a guy his size, but his off speed pitches and his deception while pitching could help him up in the Bigs. While I know it’s tough to protect everyone and I’m not sure out of who was protected I would replace him with, I would’ve liked to have seen Webb protected as he could very well be with another team come next season. 

Article by: Julian Bussells
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