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Rays vs Yankees preview: Not dead yet

Although it’s close

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays are channeling their inner Chris from Pineapple Express, lingering just outside the AL wild card race currently sitting 4.0 games back of the second wild card leading Twins.

There are still four teams between the Rays and the Twins, and FanGraphs has the Rays current playoff odds at a lowly 3.9 percent, but to use another pop culture reference, that just means FanGraphs is telling us there’s a chance.

Enough with the movie references, on to today’s game.

Starting Pitchers

Chris Archer

What appeared to be one of the best seasons of Archer’s career has been derailed a bit in his two most recent outings, as the Rays ace has allowed 10 runs (eight earned) in just three innings in his past two starts. The first was cut short with an injury worry, and the most recent didn’t do much to assuage any worries.

Archer’s ERA (4.00) now nearly matches his ERA from last season (4.02), a season which many considered a thorough disappointment for the 28-year-old righty. Archer’s FIP (3.37) and xFIP (3.30) suggest he’s been a bit unlucky, but Archer has posted an ERA higher than his FIP his entire career (3.61 ERA vs. 3.46 FIP and 3.43 xFIP), and ERA is the metric that matters the most when looking at what actually happened.

The good news for Rays fans is that in his injury-shortened start in which he didn’t record an out, Archer’s velocity was down to 93.2, according to Brooks Baseball. A drop in velo in a classic sign of of injury, but in his most recent start, despite getting hit around, his velocity was as high as it has been all season (96.2), so it appears as though the Rays won’t be without their ace as they make a frantic push for the playoffs.

Jaime Garcia

Garcia will be making his first start in two weeks on Wednesday, as the expanded rosters of September, as well as Garcia just not looking that good of late, have pushed the twice-traded lefty out of the rotation lately.

Garcia has a 5.11 ERA since being traded to New York and a 4.88 ERA for 2017 as a whole. His FIP isn’t much better (5.58 in New York and 4.91 overall), so it’s not exactly an ace the Rays will be facing off with. Of course, that hasn’t mattered much to the Rays of late, who have the 29th-ranked offense (per wRC+) in the second half of 2017. Only the Brewers have been worth with the sticks since the All-Star break, and it has been a team-wide epidemic.

Garcia is a lefty who has some pretty severe platoon splits in 2017, but for his career, has been nearly as effective against both-handed hitters. He relies heavily on his fastball (right around 90 mph), with a changeup being his second-most frequently thrown pitch. He has introduced a slider this season, but it hasn’t been great, with a -4.7 run value, per FanGraphs. He will go to a curveball a couple times per outing.

The Rays have struggled at times with lefties this season, so don’t count out a solid start from Garcia. He has allowed three or fewer runs in each of his past five outings, he just struggles to get deep into games.

Starting Lineups

Today's Lineup

New York Yankees Tampa Bay Rays
New York Yankees Tampa Bay Rays
Brett Gardner - LF Kevin Kiermaier - CF
Chase Headley - 1B Lucas Duda - DH
Gary Sanchez - DH Evan Logoria - 3B
Didi Gregorius - SS Logan Morrison - 1B
Starlin Castro - 2B Steven Souza - RF
Jacoby Ellsbury - CF Adeiny Hechavarria - SS
Todd Frazier - 3B Peter Bourjos - LF
Clint Frazier - RF Jesus Sucre - C
Austin Romine - C Danny Espinosa - 2B
Jaime Garcia - LHP Chris Archer - RHP