A brief Yankees series preview

Yankees third baseman Solarte - Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I don't have time for all of Ian's shenanigans and fancy charts about how the Rays compare. I have a job and a weekend coming up, and I want to go exercise some.

Here's what you need to know.

The Yankees are coming off two losses to the Mariners, as closed by Fernando Rodney, and host the Rays before leaving on a west coast road trip. This is their last battle against the AL East until the third week of June. The Yanks are sitting atop the division, but all five teams are separated by only three wins.

Masahiro Tanaka has still been killing it. He tallied 46 strikeouts in his first five starts, third all time in major league history for starting a career, walking a mere 1.5 per nine. He owns a 2.27 ERA, 2.95 FIP, and is now the 25-year old ace of the staff in the Bronx.

Ivan Nova, who the Rays might consider the Yankee ace due to his constant dominance of Tampa Bay, needed Tommy John surgery this week. We wont see him for the rest of the year. Michael Pinetar Pineda is also injured with a back strain.

Yangervis Solarte has also been killing it, just like everyone expected. The switch-hitter has slashed .303/.404/.461 with ten extra base hits and a 143 wRC+, playing at third base. He started the triple play incurred against the Rays in the last series against New York.

Yangervis_triple_play_medium

oof.

He's been manning third base for most of the month of April, when injuries moved Kelly Johnson to first base. Now the Mark Teixeira has returned to action (and been very good as well, with a 142 wRC+), Solarte has kept the starting role and Johnson has been benched for the foreseeable future.

Jacoby Ellsbury has been a stud in the field for the Yanks, manning center field with poise and ease, coupled with a .369 OBP, a 121 wRC+, ten extra base hits, and eight stolen bases.

Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy are your current catching platoon. Francisco Cervelli is out until June with a strained hamstring, and backup short stop Brendan Ryan is on a rehab assignment in Double-A.

Matchup

Tonight, David Price faces off against Vidal Nuno, who held the Rays scoreless just two weeks ago in his major league debut. He's allowed only three earned runs on 9.1 innings at the major league level this season. Price will ostensibly have the edge tonight, but you know how the Rays do against inexperienced lefties.

Jake Odorizzi and Masahiro Tanaka face off on Saturday at 1:05, then Erik Bedard and CC Sabathia square off in a soft tossing show down on Sunday at the same time.

Tanaka went 6.1 innings against the Angels in his last appearance, striking out double digit batters for the third time this season. Sabathia gave up four runs in the fifth inning to the Mariners in his last go round, but before that out dueled David Price at the Trip on April 17.

This series will greatly impact the divisional standings, and will have extra importance to the tired Rays, who just crept back into contention yesterday by sweeping a double header in Boston.

Go Rays.

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