Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays vs New York Yankees (5/17-5/19)

For the second straight weekend the Yankees and Rays are set to face off, this time in the Bronx. Since the last time they saw each other both teams are 2-0 with the Rays taking two from the Marlins and the Yanks winning a doubleheader against the Orioles. This means Tampa Bay will open this series leading the AL East by just half a game, so whoever wins this series will be on top of the division.  

Photo Credit:
Game One, Friday, May 17, 7:05 PM EST
TBD vs. C.C. Sabathia (2-1, 3.26 ERA)
The Rays game one starter is still TBD which very likely means the Yankees will see an opener. Assuming that is the case, this has the same set-up as game two of the last series these teams played. The Yankees were only able to muster two runs on five hits that game against four Tampa Bay relievers beginning with Ryne Stanek.

Sabathia has had a solid season so far, pitching to a 3.26 ERA in his first six starts. When he faced the Rays previously, he allowed two runs over five innings. Both of those runs were off of solo home runs so if Sabathia could keep the ball in the park Friday night he could have another good outing. Sabathia has pitched exactly five innings in five of his starts and 5.1 innings in the sixth. If he can get through five innings Friday look for Aaron Boone to hand the ball over to the bullpen from there.

Game Two, Saturday, May 18, 1:05 PM EST
Blake Snell (3-4, 3.56 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (3-3, 3.44 ERA)
Once again, this is the exact same pitching matchup we saw in game three of the series last weekend, a game the Yankees went on to win 7-1. The Bombers did most of their damage that game against the bullpen as Snell pitched 5.2 innings allowing two runs and striking out 12. Snell is one of the best pitchers in baseball, winning the 2018 AL CY Young Award so the Yanks will need to battle in this one and hopefully get to the bullpen sooner rather than later.

Masahiro Tanaka pitched arguably his best game of the year the last time he faced Tampa Bay, surrendering just one run over seven innings pitched. Tanaka finally felt good throwing his splitter for the first-time last game which was a big difference for him. In his first eight starts, Tanaka threw the splitter 138 times with an opponent’s batting average of .417 and only seven strikeouts. Last weekend in Tampa Bay he threw that pitch 27 times and hitters went 2-11 against it for an average of .182 to go along with three strikeouts. Tanaka’s splitter will definitely be something to watch on Saturday.

Photo Credit: New York Times

Game Three, Sunday, May 19, 1:05 PM EST
Charlie Morton (4-0, 2.32 ERA) vs. TBD
Charlie Morton is having another very good year after pitching well last year for the Astros. He is coming off of an outing against the Marlins where he pitched six scoreless innings lowering his season ERA to 2.32 over 50.1 innings. Some Yankees hitters who have had success against Morton include Brett Gardner (5-10, one home run) and DJ LeMahieu (4-11).

The Yankees have not announced a starter yet for game three. The loss of Jonathan Loaisiga leaves a hole in the rotation for now while New York still waits for James Paxton to return. Possible options for the Yankees include Luis Cessa who has pitched 19 innings this year out of the bullpen with a 3.32 ERA and Chance Adams who was called up to replace Loaisiga on the roster.

Although it is still early in the season, this is a very important series for the Yankees. The Rays have been in first place in the division for almost the whole year so it would be nice to change that. On top of that, the race on top of the AL East has become very close with the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox only separated by four games.

Article by: Mark Ciano


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