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Series Preview: Yankees at Rays

Gary Sanchez leads the Yankees to Tropicana Field.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Rays kickoff their last homestand of the season this evening against the New York Yankees. The Rays started their eleven game road trip losing three to the Yankees before winning five of seven. They fell to the Orioles to end up 5-6 on the road trip.

The last week has really put a wrench in the Yankees playoff aspirations. They are now 4.5 games behind the wild card leaders Orioles and Blue Jays, who are tied, but the real problem is the Tigers, Astros, and Mariners, who are between the Yankees and the other AL East contenders.

Tampa Bay has a real chance to play the spoiler this week.

Matchups:

Tuesday: Michael Pineda vs Drew Smyly

Wednesday: Masahiro Tanaka vs Alex Cobb

Thursday: Luis Cessa vs Blake Snell

Wendesday night is the real challenge.

Rays have had a lot of success against Pineda and Cessa, but not so much against Tanaka.

Michael Pineda has had a rough season against the Rays. The Rays have lit him up for 20 runs in 19.1 innings over 4 starts. The Rays have hit eight homers against Pineda this season. In his last start against the Rays, they only pushed two runs across over 4.2 innings on two solo homers. He has picked up 27 strikeouts and walked 7 against the Rays.

Masahiro Tanaka has had much more success against the Rays. In three of his four starts he allowed two or fewer runs and thrown at least seven innings in all four outings. His last start against the Rays was a seven inning gem where he allowed one run (solo homer) and struck out ten while not issuing a walk.

Luis Cessa hasn’t found much success against the Rays in three appearances (one start). The Rays have put ten runs on the board in 12.2 innings. His start last week the Rays scored four runs in 5.2 innings.

Betances is coming off a rough week.

In what was a massive strength for the Yankees to start the season with Aroldys Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Dellin Betances in the back end of the bullpen is now a weakness. Only Betances remains with the team, but this last week wasn’t good for him. The Dodgers scored two unearned runs in the final game of their series in a tied game, but that wasn’t the worst outing. The next night the Red Sox scored four earned in a walk off win for Boston.

The Yankees currently are running a 13 man bullpen, because it is September. Girardi will take full advantage of all match ups and has the tools to do so. Luis Severino and Tyler Clippard have been good in the month of September.

Gary Sanchez is carrying the Yankees offense.

The Yankees offense has gotten much younger, but it’s a lot of the same. They are hitting .235/.309/.404 and 90 wRC+ in September. They have only put 61 runs on the board (3.58 runs per game).

Gary Sanchez isn’t as hot as he was a month ago, but he’s still hitting .250/.313/.533 and 122 wRC+ with five homers in September. He’s been the most productive Yankee bat.

Veterans Starlin Castro (114 wRC+), Jacoby Ellsbury (110 wRC+), Chase Headley (106 wRC+), and Brian McCann (105 wRC+) have been the other regulars that have helped out in September.

The Rays need to limp home before they lose anybody else to injury.

Steven Souza, Jr. is scheduled to have season ending surgery on his hip later this week. Last week they also lost Nick Franklin to a hamstring strain and Logan Morrison to wrist surgery.

As the season winds to a close the hope is to get through the next two weeks healthy enough to start spring training at full strength.

There are only two series left to see your Rays at Tropicana Field this season.