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Rays vs. Yankees series preview: Projecting the matchups

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays come home to The Trop today after a successful road trip. They will host the Yankees in a three-game series. Here is a preview based on statistics. Go here for information from someone who's actually knowledgeable about the Yankees.

Follow this link to an interactive graph showing the matchup projections for every game.

The projections are made using a tool Jason Hanselman of Dock of the Rays and I created together. It combines regressed platoon splits based off The Book and Bojan Kaprovica's work, with Steamer projections, and uses a log5 method to calculate the matchups. Overall projections and projections vs. average lefties and righties are park-neutral (meaning everyone is on the same footing). Projected matchups are placed in Toronto's park (so both teams are also on the same footing, but it's scaled slightly different than the overall projections).

Some notes on these projections:

  • Take the one's for players with limited major league time with an extra grain of salt. The splits section of those projections are more or less fine, but the overall projection is suspect.
  • In that regard, I think Tim Beckham is a bit better than he's represented here, as Steamer sees him as a rookie who barely played in the minors last year (and those guys rarely succeed).
  • The same might be true for Alex Rodriguez. He's basically the same as a rookie -- not much for a statistical projection system to work with.
  • I think I've got the right Chris Young showing here, but sorry if I don't. Chris Youngs break spreadsheets.
  • This Yankees lineup is totally full of lefties and switch hitters. It would be nice if Smyly were to pitch the third game, but I'm guessing it's still Matt Andriese.
  • After two series where this was not the case, it's refreshing to finally face an opponent with no hitters better than Evan Longoria. The Yankees do have a balanced lineup, though, even if they're missing the top end, as their three through seventh best hitters are all better than the Rays three through seven.
  • The line in the charts at .310 is an average wOBA.

Nathan Karns vs. Adam Warren


Well, that doesn't look good, does it? It might not be that bad. While Warren has been pretty good, much of that quality came out of the bullpen, and these projections don't really know that.

Warren has a sizeable split so far in his young career. Right now I've got him as being 4% better than the average righty against righties, and 3% worse than the average righty against lefties. That means that Evan Longoria and Steven Souza look a less scary than usual in game one, and that in an ideal world with a healthy Jaso, Desmond Jennings should probably get the day off while David DeJesus plays left field. This is not an ideal world.

Jake Odorizzi vs. Masahiro Tanaka


My projections think that Tanaka is an ace. So far this season, he hasn't looked like one, and with his recent elbow injury there's reason to be concerned.

Michael Pineda vs. TBD (Matt Andriese)


I've represented TBD as an average righty. I think that most likely Andriese will get the start, and that he's actually below average. That's bad new for the Rays, because Michael Pineda is an excellent pitcher. In fact, these projections think that he's even better than Tanaka. They have him as a full 12% better than the average righty against righties, and six percent better than the average righty against lefties. That's simply insane.

This would really be a good series to have John Jaso. It would also be a good series to have Drew Smyly. And Jake McGee. But the Rays have none of them, so it's time to scrape out another gutsy performance with the youngsters. There's a reason why they play the games. (That's what one says when the spreadsheet tells you that your team will lose.)