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Series Preview: New York Yankees

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The Rays try to get out of their funk as they head to the Bronx for a big four-game set against the Yankees.

Michael Heiman

The 2013 New York Yankees are starting to look like the 2012 Tampa Bay Rays; a team badly hit by the injury bug but remaining competitive in the tough AL East thanks to good pitching.

Their starting rotation—led by C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte—and a solid bullpen have kept them right in the race. However, three key injuries in just the past month to Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira have took their toll on the team's struggling offense.

Like the Rays, the Yanks have not been playing very good baseball as of late, dropping seven of their last 11 games.

Both clubs will try to turn things around this weekend.

The Position Players

With a wRC+ of 84 (4th lowest in MLB), New York's offense has been one of baseball's worst this season. As expected, they've had a hard time scoring runs with over half of their lineup on the disabled list.

Right now, the Yankees' bats are ice cold, posting an anemic 59 wRC+ in the month of June. Let's hope that the Rays' pitchers can take advantage of this injury-riddled lineup and catch a bit of a break after a tough task in Fenway.

Take a look at the Yankees' current lineup along with each player's UZR:

Brett Gardner CF 303 6 28 11 .280 .344 .443 .342 114 2.5 6.0
Ichiro Suzuki RF 244 3 14 9 .270 .311 .354 .289 78 0.6 3.8
Robinson Cano 2B 308 16 42 3 .278 .251 .505 .362 128 2.1 -1.7
Travis Hafner DH 201 11 32 2 .221 .333 .453 .342 114 0.4
Vernon Wells LF 267 10 27 4 .224 .266 .372 .277 70 0.1 4.8
Lyle Overbay 1B 220 8 32 0 .242 .282 .440 .311 93 0.1 0.2
Jayson Nix 3B 222 1 19 10 .260 .321 .311 .283 73 0.3 -1.9
Reid Brignac SS 42 0 0 0 .098 .119 .122 .110 -46 -0.5 0.3
Chris Stewart C 136 3 10 3 .262 .323 .339 .295 82 0.5
Austin Romine C 58 0 2 1 .127 .143 .163 .137 -27 -0.6
David Adams INF 83 2 7 0 .200 .220 .313 .233 39 0.1 3.4
Zoilo Almonte OF 1 0 0 0 .000 .000
Thomas Neal OF 13 0 0 0 .182 .308 .182

The Bullpen

Led by the great Mariano Rivera, New York's bullpen has been a pretty strong one, posting a 3.47 ERA (ranks 13th) and a 3.53 FIP (ranks 9th). The Yankees' ageless closer is pitching as well as ever in 2013, collecting 25 saves so far in 26 opportunities to go along with an impressive 1.73 ERA.

Setup man David Robertson has also been very effective. He's 15 out of 15 in hold opportunities and owns a 4-1 record with a 2.87 ERA. Boone Logan (1.45 ERA, 13.02 K/9) is another important piece in the back end of that 'pen.

Notable Injuries

C Francisco Cervelli (fractured hand), 60-day DL; 1B Mark Teixeira (wrist), 15-day DL; 3B Alex Rodriguez (hip), 60-day DL; 1B/3B Kevin Youkilis (back), 15-day DL (out at least 10 weeks, maybe for year); SS Derek Jeter (ankle), 60-day DL (could return in second half of season); SS Eduardo Nunez (ribs), 60-day DL; CF Curtis Granderson (fractured knuckle), 15-day DL; RHP Michael Pineda (shoulder surgery), 60-day DL (could return in July).

Who the Rays will face

Andy Pettitte (versus Matt Moore, 7:05 ET Thursday):

Pettitte is 5-4 this year with a 3.95 ERA and a 3.64 FIP through 11 starts. In his only outing against the Rays this season, the 41-year-old left-hander was sharp tossing six innings while allowing just two earned runs and striking out 10.

David Phelps (versus Roberto Hernandez, 7:05 ET Friday):

Sinkerballer David Phelps hasn't disappointed in the back end of New York's rotation. He's 4-4 with a 4.08 ERA, 3.55 FIP and 8.56 K/9 over nine starts.

Phelps, a 42.9% groundball pitcher, throws his sinker (91 MPH) about one-third of the time.

He was strong in his previous start against Tampa earlier this year, going 7.2 innings deep and allowing four runs in his win.

C.C. Sabathia (versus Alex Colome, 1:05 ET Saturday):

C.C. Sabathia has regressed a bit this season, putting up a 3.93 ERA with a 3.76 FIP as he's thrown his fastball with reduced velocity. That velocity appeared to finally return in his last start, however, so it should be interesting to see what he does Saturday.

The Rays' bats hit Sabathia hard in both of his starts against Tampa Bay this season, combining for 12 runs and five homers in 14 innings.

*The Yankees starter for the series finale (also Old-Timers' Day) has yet to be announced. Chris Archer is likely for the Rays.