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Series Preview: Yankees head to Trop as trade deadline looms.

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays return home from their last west coast trip of the season to take on the Yankees as the trade deadline nears. The Rays have won five of their last ten and the Yankees enter winners of eight of their last eleven. The Yankees are coming off series victories of the Astros, Giants, and Orioles.

The Yankees have made the first big move as we approach the deadline in dealing closer Aroldis Chapman, but they currently find themselves 3.5 games out of the second wild card.

The Matchups:

Friday: Ivan Nova vs Jake Odorizzi

Saturday: Nathan Eovaldi vs Drew Smyly

Sunday: Michael Pineda vs Blake Snell

Yankees scheduled to throw three righties, but could be subject to change.

Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda have been thrown around in trade rumors for teams looking for a back of the rotation starter. It’s really weird seeing the Yankees as a seller especially since they have closed ground on the wild card.

The Yankees starters have combined for a 4.56 ERA (9th in AL) and 4.30 FIP (5th in AL). The Rays are fortunate to avoid Masahiro Tanaka who has done the heavy lifting as he has posted a 3.16 ERA and 3.34 FIP over 134 innings.

Ivan Nova is has been a back of the rotation starter since returning from Tommy John Surgery in 2014. This year he has posted a 4.65 ERA and 4.84 FIP in 93 innings split between the bullpen and 14 starts. Nova hasn’t been effective against batters of any handedness, but he gets hit by left handed batters harder as he’s allowed a .279/.330/.503 line and .354 wOBA. Three of his last four starts have been solid as he’s allowed one run in each of those outings. He isn’t giving you a lot of innings, but he is coming off a seven inning outing against the Giants where he allowed one run.

Nathan Eovaldi brings the heat as his four seam fastball has averaged 98.05 MPH this year. He never seems to get the results you would expect for somebody with that kind of velocity. He has a 4.80 ERA and 4.78 FIP over 110.2 innings pitched. Those both represent career highs. He has had a lot of trouble limiting homers as he has a 18.3% HR/FB rate after never posting a rate higher than 8.1% in his career.

Michael Pineda has under performed his peripherals for his career and this year is no exception. He has a 5.00 ERA and 3.86 FIP. The last two seasons he has had an uncharacteristic homer problem as he has allowed HR/FB rates of 14.7% and 17.9%. He gets strikeouts and limits walks, but the last two years he has allowed BABIPS north of .330.

Yankees biggest strength weakens.

The Yankees came into the season with a three headed monster at the end of the bullpen. It has worked for the most part as they are 52-49 despite having a -24 run differential. With the trade of Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs the Yankees are down to a two headed monster in the back end of the bullpen with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. The goal posts have moved and opponents now have until the eighth inning to get a lead before the game is locked down.

Andrew Miller has take over as the closer as he did during Chapman’s suspension earlier in the season. Miller has posted an absurd 44.8% strikeout rate and equally nuts 4.8% walk rate. He has allowed eight runs (seven earned) on the season and allowed five homers. If you’re going to score it’s likely through getting a ball airborne as he has a 19.2% HR/FB rate. It’s extremely difficult to piece together an inning when the odds are approaching 50/50 that you’re going to strikeout.

Dellin Betances continues to do his thing this year, but has been unlucky as he’s posted a 2.50 ERA while putting up a 1.27 FIP. Betances has struck out 45.0% of batters and walked 7.6% of those faced.

The bullpen outside of the top three arms have been pretty bad and is an area where teams have been able to exploit.

Yankees have league’s worst offense.

The Yankees own the league’s worst 87 wRC+. The Yankees have been equally anemic against pitchers of both handedness. They are batting .255/.314/.381, 86 wRC+ against left handed pitchers and .246/.308/.397, 87 wRC+ against right handed pitchers.

Carlos Beltran has been the only impact bat as he’s rebounded this year to a .305/.347/.548 135 wRC+. The only other Yankees above 100 wRC+ are Didi Gregorius with a .298/.328/.462 109 wRC+ line and Brian McCann with a .234/.355/.432 106 wRC+ line.

The Rays look toward the trade deadline.

The Rays starters are pitching how everybody expected them to since the all-star break. It’s something to build on moving forward. The pitchers are improving their stock and trying to rebound to build into next year.

As the deadline approaches many will be looking at what deals the Rays will or won’t make, but there are still games to be played and things to find out heading into the off season.