Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees (4/2, 4/4)

Baseball is back at the Bronx, after five months, 15 days, and seven hours of anticipation (but who’s counting?), the Yankees will don their pinstripes in The Cathedral of Baseball on East 161st Street. This will be the first chance for most Yankee fans to see their team up close in person, and with all the hype surrounding this team this offseason, between the trade for Giancarlo Stanton and the anointing of the best bullpen in baseball, the Bronx Faithful are chomping at the bit to finally see their Bombers take on the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Yankees are coming off their Opening Day Series split in Toronto against the Blue Jays, where the Bombers showed off their power with a bunch of home runs, but the injury bug has hit the Bombers early as the likes of Aaron Hicks, Billy McKinney, Adam Warren, and Jacoby Ellsbury have hit the injury list in the past week or so. It is all hands on deck as the Yankees look to put together a couple of wins before reinforcements come back to save the day.

The Rays are coming off their opening series against the Red Sox in Tampa, with mixed results.  Tampa had an eventful offseason of their own, just in the opposite direction of the Yankees, trading off just about all their home run hitters from 2017, shipping off Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, and Steven Souza out of Florida to greener pastures. It is clear that the team is rebuilding, so the Yankees should be primed to have a successful two-game home opener.

GAME ONE (Tuesday, April 3 | First Pitch: 4:00 PM ET)
Jordan Montgomery vs. Chris Archer

The Yankees will trot out the young lefty to start their home opener, weather permitting, who showed plenty of promise in his 2017 campaign. Montgomery showed all the makings of a solid starting pitcher in 2017, leading the AL in starts, strikeouts, and innings pitched, possessing a trio of elusive off-speed pitches paired with a serviceable fastball to work his way through the tough lineups in the American League. The 25-year-old also known as Gumby had his 2017 season cut short due to team dictated innings limit, but with a longer leash in 2018 he looks primed to improve on his 4.72 career ERA against the Rays.

Chris Archer had a mediocre game by his standard, recording a no-decision on Opening Day against the Red Sox. Archer allowed four runs in six innings of work. The righty had a rough go around against the Yankees last year, sporting a 4.24 ERA and a 1-2 record in four starts against the Bombers. Although the lineup stars were cold at times, the Yanks are providing plenty of punch top to bottom, and if Archer isn’t at his absolute best in the Bronx, the game will get ugly in a hurry.

GAME TWO (Wednesday, April 4 | First Pitch: 1:05 PM ET)
Luis Severino vs Blake Snell

New York Daily News
Severino makes his second start of his 2018 campaign against the deconstructed Rays lineup on Wednesday. Severino is coming off a dominant 5.2 shutout innings against the Blue Jays on Opening Day. Severino featured a new look slider instead of his usual changeup and the Toronto lineup didn’t know what hit them, if the young ace can perfect a trio of slider, changeup, fastball as his out pitches, look out MLB.

The lefty had a great first start of the season against the Red Sox, throwing 5 2/3 innings with three hits in a no-decision. The third-year pro had a rough time with the Yankees lineup, as most pitchers did, in 2017, finishing 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA and averaging only four innings per outing. Snell finished strong in the second half of 2017, dropping his from 4.85 to 3.49 after the All-Star break, and the Rays hope the trend continues throughout 2018.

Yankees players to watch

Giancarlo Stanton OF
Is there really another option? The “big fish,” of the offseason for the Yankees introduced himself in a Stantionian manner, hitting home run in his first and last at-bat of Opening Day, including the hardest recorded exit velocity on an opposite field home run in Statcast history. This short series is the first chance for Stanton to don the pinstripes in the Bronx, and if his recent trend of opposite field rockets continues, there could be more than couple fans going home with souvenirs when its all said and done.

Aaron Judge OF
Of course, the two gargantuan Bomber outfielders are the story going into the home opener, but Judge is on this list for a different reason. The AL MVP runner-up isn’t having the greatest start to the season at the plate, going 1-11 with four strikeouts and numerous double plays after his Opening Day game. Judge was visibly and audibly frustrated with himself after looking at a clear strike three in a 3-2 count on Saturday, and while there is no reason to push the panic button for the AL Rookie of the year, keep on an eye on how the righty slugger rebounds in the familiar confines of Yankee Stadium.

Rays Players to watch

Chris Archer
This isn’t your usual Rays lineup as many of the familiar Tampa sluggers are elsewhere, but there’s still plenty of stars down in Florida. Archer is always a threat on the mound, as the seven-year veteran has finished three straight seasons with over 230 strikeouts, and looks to continue that this year. As mentioned before, he didn’t fare too well last year in the Bronx last year, and his record in recent seasons hasn’t reflected the talent of the righty.

Alex Colome
In a lineup devoid of potent hitters, pitching becomes even more important, and with the depth of the hitters and the bullpen in New York, relief pitchers and closers need to be on their game. Colome comes in this year as the Rays closer, and in one outing this year the righty threw one shutout inning with no runs to secure the save on opening day in a wacky comeback against the Red Sox. If the starting pitching can somehow neutralize this Yankee lineup this week, there will be a lot of close games where Colome may need to strike out the likes of Judge, Stanton, and Sanchez in a row to secure a win. Let’s see if he's up for the challenge.



 After a snowstorm postponed Monday's game to Tuesday, it’s finally time for the home opener back in the Bronx. Although the Yankees are a bit banged up, their roster is too deep and too talented to not beat up on a team like the Rays. Tanking is the hot new thing in baseball as the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs has laid down a blueprint on how to rebuild a roster by tearing down the foundation for a few years, and the Rays are obviously following suit. Opening week for a home team should be filled with optimism and fun for Yankee fans, as their team is one of the hottest teams in the world of sports, so all good and bad showing this early in the season should be met with temperate reactions….ideally. The Yanks should put on a show this week as all the eyes in the baseball world look to the vaunted monument that is Yankee Stadium.

Article by: Maxx Hotton


Popular posts from this blog

Introducing Bronx Bomber Bets: BBBets 9/23

An Unofficial Guide to Food Options at Yankee Stadium

Frankie Crosetti: “King of Rings”