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Series Preview: Rays Head To New York

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Brandon Maxwell - Front Row - February 2017 - New York Fashion Week: The Shows Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows

The Tampa Bay Rays leave the friendly confines of Tropicana Field for their first road trip of the year after a very successful 5-2 homestand. They take on the New York Yankees, who will be playing their first home series of the year. The Rays took care of business winning the series in St. Pete 2-1 last week. They will look to do the same this time in the Bronx.

The Yankees are without their offensive standout Gary Sanchez who was placed on the disabled list on Sunday with a strained bicep. Greg Bird has also missed the last two games due to an ankle injury, but should be back sometime this series.

Monday 1:05 PM: Alex Cobb vs Michael Pineda

Wednesday 1:05 PM: Blake Snell vs Luis Severino

Thursday 7:05 PM: Matt Andriese vs Masahiro Tanaka

Yankees Rotation

The Rays will face Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka for the second time this season. The Rays got the best of them as they won both games and scored 11 runs against the starters over 6.1 innings.

Yankees Starters vs RHB Last 3+ Years

Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Michael Pineda 221 24.7 % 3.7 % 0.257 0.292 0.435 0.312
Luis Severino 68 24.4 % 7.6 % 0.257 0.316 0.489 0.344
Masahiro Tanaka 250.1 23.2 % 4.9 % 0.229 0.274 0.387 0.287

Michael Pineda is an enigma that mystifies FIP methodology. He gets strikeouts and limits walks. However that’s where the good ends as he has a track record of getting hit hard when the batter doesn’t strikeout. A .312 wOBA allowed against RHP is quite good for a starter in his home park. Dating back to last season the Rays have scored 26 runs in 28.1 innings over five starts against him.

The Rays didn’t face Luis Severino as a starter last season. In 2015 he had success in two starts where he allowed one run in each start over 5.2 and 6.1 innings. He spent much of the second half of last season as a reliever, but won a rotation spot this spring. Right handed bats have hit for incredible power against posting a .232 ISO.

Masahiro Tanaka had an opening day to forget. The Rays tagged him for seven runs in 2.2 innings. He did pitch a bit better in his second start, against Baltimore, bringing his 2017 ERA down to a mere 11.74. He had more success last year allowing only seven runs over four starts going at least seven innings in each outing. Right handed bats have had little success against Tanaka.

Yankees Starters vs LHB Last 3+ Years

Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Michael Pineda 195.1 24.7 % 5.8 % 0.259 0.305 0.430 0.316
Luis Severino 70.1 19.1 % 8.7 % 0.254 0.329 0.396 0.317
Masahiro Tanaka 247.1 22.1 % 4.1 % 0.236 0.270 0.404 0.291

Pineda has shown good peripherals against left handed bats, but he allows a ton of homers leading to a lot of damage out of the few base runners he allows.

Severino has struck out fewer left handed batters, but has allowed fewer extra bases. Showing a drop of almost .100 ISO against opposite handed batters. This is a small sample and will be tested against the Rays left handed heavy lineup combined with the short porch in right field.

Tanaka shows very little split, but left handed batters have had more success in the power department.

Yankees Bullpen

Yankees Relievers vs RHB Last 3+ Years

Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Aroldis Chapman 139.0 43.2 % 9.9 % 0.159 0.250 0.224 0.221
Dellin Betances 130.1 41.1 % 11.1 % 0.161 0.262 0.263 0.242
Tyler Clippard 102.1 28.6 % 9.6 % 0.190 0.282 0.326 0.270
Jonathan Holder 8.2 21.6 % 10.8 % 0.242 0.324 0.364 0.305
Adam Warren 162.1 20.5 % 7.4 % 0.247 0.315 0.389 0.310
Chasen Shreve 66.1 24.1 % 11.5 % 0.208 0.303 0.398 0.305
Bryan Mitchell 40.2 10.3 % 8.6 % 0.278 0.351 0.395 0.330
Tommy Layne 46.2 17.6 % 14.4 % 0.283 0.400 0.462 0.369

Last week the Yankees pen kept the Rays bats in check after they feasted off Pineda and Tanaka. Dellin Betances has pitched the last two days, so the Rays might receive a reprieve in game one of the series.

However the Yankees bullpen has three very good options against right handed batters in Betances, Aroldis Chapman, and Tyler Clippard.

Yankees Relievers vs LHB Last 3+ Years

Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Name IP K% BB% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Aroldis Chapman 41.1 49.4 % 12.8 % 0.135 0.258 0.173 0.212
Tommy Layne 67.0 23.3 % 9.7 % 0.178 0.270 0.216 0.229
Dellin Betances 119.0 39.3 % 7.6 % 0.174 0.245 0.243 0.221
Chasen Shreve 39.1 26.3 % 10.9 % 0.255 0.355 0.447 0.350
Tyler Clippard 105.0 23.6 % 9.2 % 0.204 0.278 0.344 0.274
Adam Warren 119.0 21.1 % 8.9 % 0.193 0.270 0.303 0.250
Bryan Mitchell 27.0 24.0 % 12.8 % 0.271 0.376 0.411 0.347
Jonathan Holder 2.2 15.4 % 0.0 % 0.385 0.385 0.500 0.368

I don’t know why you would send a left handed batter up against Chapman, but apparently there have been a few and they have struck out almost half the time.

Betances and LOOGY Tommy Layne have also been very good against left handed bats. The Rays left handed heavy lineup will have difficulties once the Yankees go to the bullpen.

Yankees Lineup

Yankees Batters vs RHP Last 3+ Years

Name PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Name PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Gregory Bird 147 9.5 % 30.6 % 0.244 0.320 0.519 0.358 127
Matt Holliday 1021 9.7 % 15.9 % 0.266 0.354 0.420 0.341 117
Ronald Torreyes 145 3.4 % 9.7 % 0.294 0.322 0.463 0.334 111
Brett Gardner 1357 10.8 % 19.2 % 0.259 0.344 0.410 0.333 110
Chris Carter 1173 10.3 % 33.3 % 0.216 0.303 0.472 0.332 109
Starlin Castro 1355 4.1 % 17.3 % 0.275 0.309 0.418 0.314 97
Jacoby Ellsbury 1214 8.2 % 13.4 % 0.263 0.326 0.387 0.313 97
Chase Headley 1210 9.5 % 23.8 % 0.245 0.326 0.375 0.311 96
Aaron Judge 96 7.3 % 38.5 % 0.207 0.271 0.414 0.294 83
Aaron Hicks 662 10.3 % 17.5 % 0.229 0.310 0.336 0.287 77
Austin Romine 93 5.4 % 22.6 % 0.200 0.237 0.294 0.230 38
Pete Kozma 97 9.3 % 19.6 % 0.184 0.268 0.207 0.215 31
Kyle Higashioka No MLB Pas

If Greg Bird is out of the lineup for any part of this series the Yankees lineup is really limited against right handed pitchers. Blake Snell and Xavier Cedeno are the only left handed pitchers the Rays will throw out there, so that would be welcome news to the rest of the pitchers.

The Yankees will have Chris Carter available to play first base if Bird is unable to go. He’s not a good defender, but he can hit the long ball.

Brett Gardner and Matt Holliday are the only other everyday players with a track record against right handed pitching.

Yankees Batters vs LHP Last 3+ Years

Name PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Name PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Matt Holliday 375 15.2 % 16.5 % 0.267 0.389 0.508 0.386 147
Chris Carter 515 13.6 % 29.3 % 0.220 0.334 0.481 0.349 122
Gregory Bird 49 14.3 % 30.6 % 0.238 0.347 0.405 0.334 111
Chase Headley 517 8.1 % 17.8 % 0.268 0.335 0.380 0.316 99
Starlin Castro 427 5.6 % 17.8 % 0.279 0.321 0.399 0.313 96
Jacoby Ellsbury 568 6.9 % 18.1 % 0.270 0.327 0.379 0.311 96
Brett Gardner 598 8.5 % 20.4 % 0.259 0.333 0.357 0.309 93
Aaron Hicks 326 10.4 % 23.0 % 0.241 0.319 0.375 0.307 91
Austin Romine 106 3.8 % 14.2 % 0.270 0.295 0.430 0.306 90
Ronald Torreyes 52 11.5 % 17.3 % 0.174 0.269 0.196 0.222 33
Pete Kozma 41 9.8 % 17.1 % 0.167 0.250 0.194 0.211 28
Aaron Judge 20 20.0 % 50.0 % 0.063 0.250 0.063 0.182 5
Kyle Higashioka No MLB Pas

The veteran bats of Matt Holliday and Chris Carter are their only true threats against left handed pitchers. In game two of the series it will be important that Blake Snell is careful against them.

They have a few bats that have been around average, but nobody else that should worry Snell or Cedeno.

Can Rays keep winning series?

The Rays have won their first two series of the season. If they continue to focus on series wins, everything will fall into place.

The Rays will have a rare off day in middle of the series on Tuesday sandwiched by two afternoon games. This off day will be important to help rest the bullpen ahead of Snell’s Wednesday start. The Rays will play 15 straight days, so they need to take advantage of the break and the starts in game two and three of the series will determine how the bullpen is deployed over the next two weeks.

We still have 155 games to play, but the first week has gone as well as anybody could reasonably expect. The Rays are tied with the Orioles for the division lead. A series win ahead of a four game set in Boston would put them in a great shape.