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Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees

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The Rays look to win their third straight series as they roll into New York.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Today the Rays head to New York to take on the Yankees.  The Rays are fresh off a series victory over the Boston Red Sox and are winners of four of their last five games. The bats woke up yesterday afternoon and will need to build on their performance. The Rays get to face another left handed starter. They are 4-1 against lefties so far this season..

The matchups:

Friday: Matt Moore vs CC Sabathia

Saturday: TBD (Matt Andriese?) vs Masahiro Tanaka

Sunday: Drew Smyly vs Michael Pineda

Yesterday the Rays were forced to burn Erasmo Ramirez, so we'll likely see Matt Andriese called up from Durham to see the start on Saturday. This isn't a great turn of events for the Rays, but they'll seek to claim their third straight series victory.

Yankees Starting Pitchers

Yankees Starters Last 3+ Years Versus Opposite Handed Batters:

Player IP K% BB% HR% AVE OBP SLG wOBA ERA FIP
CC Sabathia 338.1 16.8% 7.2% 15.9% 0.292 0.348 0.490 0.361 4.87 4.79
Masahiro Tanaka 158.2 23.1% 4.0% 17.4% 0.223 0.258 0.389 0.281 3.18 3.46
Michael Pineda 124.1 22.1% 4.1% 11.5% 0.251 0.282 0.411 0.299 3.26 2.98

Sabathia doesn't have the elite velocity that once made him one of the best pitchers in the league as his fastball is averaging just 88.11 MPH in 2016. The Rays right handed bats will look to feast tonight.

Tanaka and Pineda are pitchers that don't walk many batters. The Rays left handed bats will have to be aggressive in the zone on pitches they can handle.

Yankees Bullpen

The Yankees have potentially one of the most dominating back end of the bullpens in MLB history. Luckily for the Rays, Aroldis Chapman is still serving his 30-game suspension and will not be available this series. Miller and Betances are both rested as they have had two days off and only pitched once in the last five.

Yankees Relievers vs Right Handed Hitters Last 3+ Years:

Player IP K% BB% HR% AVE OBP SLG wOBA ERA FIP
Andrew Miller 108.2 38.8% 9.5% 9.7% 0.137 0.244 0.206 0.213 1.74 2.20
Dellin Betances 94.2 41.8% 10.7% 13.0% 0.160 0.260 0.266 0.243 2.38 2.41
Ivan Nova 125.1 21.3% 7.4% 15.0% 0.254 0.326 0.418 0.328 4.60 4.26
Chasen Shreve 48.1 24.0% 12.0% 18.9% 0.199 0.296 0.394 0.301 3.35 5.32
Branden Pinder 18.0 23.7% 11.8% 15.0% 0.224 0.316 0.409 0.312 3.00 4.80
Kirby Yates 41.2 25.0% 6.8% 14.9% 0.236 0.301 0.415 0.314 4.75 4.28
John Barbato 6.0 28.6% 4.8% 0.0% 0.105 0.190 0.105 0.151 1.50 2.04

Miller and Betances are the guys that you don't want to be facing if you're down late in a game. Ivan Nova is in the process of transitioning to the bullpen and will likely see an increase in productivity with a lessened workload.

Yankees Relievers vs Left Handed Hitters Last 3+ Years:

Player IP K% BB% HR% AVE OBP SLG wOBA ERA FIP
Andrew Miller 52.0 45.7% 6.2% 16.7% 0.208 0.258 0.308 0.254 2.77 1.42
Dellin Betances 91.1 38.6% 7.8% 4.4% 0.162 0.235 0.221 0.209 0.89 1.49
Ivan Nova 134.2 14.1% 7.6% 9.4% 0.286 0.357 0.409 0.337 4.01 4.19
Chasen Shreve 28.2 28.6% 10.3% 7.4% 0.259 0.347 0.373 0.321 1.57 2.99
Branden Pinder 10.2 15.4% 11.5% 10.0% 0.348 0.423 0.609 0.436 4.22 4.53
Kirby Yates 20.0 27.1% 14.6% 21.9% 0.272 0.385 0.568 0.401 6.30 7.32
John Barbato 3.0 35.7% 14.3% 50.0% 0.250 0.357 0.583 0.401 6.00 6.04

Chasen Shreve joins Miller and Betances as very effective options against lefties out of the bullpen. The rest of the bullpen shouldn't see many lefties if things are going according to plan for the Yankees.

Yankees Lineup:

The Yankees have started the season putting up a .241/.322/.387, .315 wOBA, 102 wRC+ line to start the season. The Yankees biggest offensive attribute is their 10.2% walk rate (4th in MLB).

Starlin Castro has started off his tenure with the Yankees hot as he's posted a .291/.339/.473, .353 wOBA, 130 wRC+. HE is joined by Carlos Beltran (.296/.304/.574 .372 wOBA, 144 wRC+), Brett Gardner (.300/.440/.425, .390 wOBA, 157 wRC+), and Brian McCann (.275/.383/.450, .370 wOBA, 142 wRC+) as Yankee hitters off to good starts.

Yankees Batters vs Right Handed Pitchers Last 3+ Seasons:

Player PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Jacoby Ellsbury 1209 23 85 7.2% 14.0% 0.281 0.334 0.415 0.327 105
Brett Gardner 1351 34 60 9.5% 19.6% 0.264 0.341 0.420 0.335 112
Alex Rodriguez 580 32 4 11.2% 24.5% 0.243 0.331 0.470 0.347 119
Mark Teixeira 761 48 2 10.9% 23.0% 0.230 0.319 0.488 0.348 122
Brian McCann 1122 54 0 9.5% 15.7% 0.234 0.315 0.433 0.326 106
Carlos Beltran 1143 46 3 8.3% 15.9% 0.288 0.348 0.485 0.361 131
Starlin Castro 1464 33 17 4.3% 17.0% 0.267 0.305 0.391 0.304 91
Chase Headley 1296 25 15 10.3% 23.5% 0.246 0.334 0.366 0.313 99
Didi Gregorius 977 23 8 7.1% 14.2% 0.265 0.325 0.407 0.319 99
Aaron Hicks 674 10 19 9.2% 20.6% 0.206 0.283 0.309 0.266 64
Dustin Ackley 928 26 7 7.2% 15.1% 0.249 0.305 0.409 0.313 101
Ronald Torreyes 16 0 0 6.3% 6.3% 0.429 0.467 0.643 0.472 214
Austin Romine 122 1 1 5.7% 24.6% 0.182 0.235 0.255 0.222 34.000

The top of the Yankees lineup features speedy outfielders that do their best work against right handed pitching. The middle of the lineup has a lot of power that can put up runs in a hurry if you hurt yourself by walking hitters through use of the small right field porch.

Yankees Batters vs Left Handed Pitchers Last 3+ Seasons:

Player PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Jacoby Ellsbury 623 9 31 7.5% 18.1% 0.266 0.333 0.367 0.313 95
Brett Gardner 600 8 7 9.3% 23.0% 0.263 0.340 0.396 0.326 105
Alex Rodriguez 273 10 6 17.6% 22.3% 0.243 0.388 0.436 0.359 128
Mark Teixeira 332 11 1 16.6% 15.7% 0.217 0.358 0.379 0.325 106
Brian McCann 400 17 0 5.5% 18.5% 0.256 0.313 0.431 0.327 107
Carlos Beltran 493 16 2 5.3% 17.8% 0.239 0.278 0.414 0.297 87
Starlin Castro 447 4 3 6.0% 17.9% 0.263 0.309 0.368 0.298 87
Chase Headley 523 12 3 8.2% 19.9% 0.257 0.329 0.400 0.322 105
Didi Gregorius 353 1 1 6.8% 20.1% 0.215 0.284 0.272 0.253 53
Aaron Hicks 277 10 7 12.3% 24.9% 0.260 0.350 0.426 0.342 117
Dustin Ackley 313 2 5 6.7% 21.4% 0.225 0.282 0.305 0.265 68
Ronald Torreyes 6 0 0 0.0% 33.3% 0.333 0.333 0.500 0.358 139
Austin Romine 54 0 0 3.7% 24.1% 0.269 0.296 0.385 0.298 87

The Yankees are much weaker offensively against southpaws. Their addition of Aaron Hicks from the Minnesota Twins is one of their better offensive options against lefties. Alex Rodriguez has gotten off to a slow start and it would be nice to see his early season struggles continue.

Rays batters look to take advantage of the short porch in right.

Yesterday the Rays righties took advantage of the Green Monster at Fenway Park in putting up their best offensive performance of the season. Tonight they'll look to continue their offensive breakout against a pitcher they should be able to put up some runs against.

Tonight's game has potential for a delay and possible postponement. Unlike with the series in Baltimore ,this would be an advantage to the Rays as they burned Erasmo Ramirez yesterday and would be saved from having to call up Andriese for Saturday's start if the game is postponed. The Yankees typically call games very early, so we shouldn't see a situation where Moore gets warmed up and not available tomorrow.

In the final two games of the series the Rays left handed bats will look to take advantage of the cozy right field seats against two good pitchers that limit walks. They will need to be aggressive on pitches in the zone to be effective.

UPDATE: Hype Train Rolls Into New York.

The Rays will throw three left handed starting pitching against the Yankees this weekend. The rookie LHP Blake Snell will make his major league debut and likely be sent down after the game. He could stay up the year and the Rays would have the extra year of control, but he'd be subject to Super 2 status.