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Series Preview: Rays vs. Yankees

The penultimate series is here

Cincinnati Reds v New York Yankees Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

This is the final week of Tampa Bay Rays baseball until next spring. The Rays are coming off a four game series split against the Baltimore Orioles. The New York Yankees have won five of their past seven and have clinched one of the American League wild cards.

The Matchups:

Tuesday 7:05 PM: Blake Snell vs Jordan Montgomery
Wednesday 7:05 PM: Matt Andriese vs Luis Severino
Thursday 7:05 PM: Alex Cobb* vs Sonny Gray

* Alex Cobb is listed as the starter for Thursday’s game by the national websites including However according to Marc Topkin, Cobb is unlikely to make this start and Jacob Faria will take the mound.

Luis Severino has pitched like an ace.

Left handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery has had a very good rookie season. In 27 starts he’s thrown 144.0 innings with a 4.06 ERA and 4.20 FIP. He’s posted a 22.4% strikeout rate and 8.1% walk rate. It will be his third time facing the Rays offense. In his previous two outings he allowed a combined seven runs, six earned, in 7.1 innings. His last time against the Rays he allowed four runs in 2.2 innings. In his last start he threw six scoreless innings against the Baltimore Orioles.

2016 was a disappointing season for Luis Severino. He split his time between the starting rotation and the bullpen. However in 2017 he has been absolutely dominant out of the rotation. He’s made 30 starts and thrown 187.1 innings with a 3.03 ERA and 3.08 FIP. His 5.5 fWAR ranks fourth in the majors behind Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, and Max Scherzer. His 5.2 RA9 WAR ranks 11th. His strikeout rate has spiked to 29.0% and his walk rate has fallen to 6.6%. In his two prior meetings with the Rays this season he allowed three runs in 12 innings. The Rays haven’t faced him since early May. In his last start he allowed three runs in three innings to the Minnesota Twins.

For the season Sonny Gray has 3.31 ERA and 3.68 FIP split between the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees. In 10 starts with the Yankees he has a 3.12 ERA and 4.39 FIP. His 23.1% strikeout rate is his highest since 2013. His 8.0% walk rate is just a bit above his career 7.8% rate. In three matchups with the Rays this year, one with the Yankees and two with the Athletics, he has allowed two earned runs in each while going six plus innings. In his first start he allowed five total runs. In his last start against the Rays he allowed two runs in eight innings. In his most recent start, facing the Blue Jays, he allowed one run in six innings.

The Yankees bullpen peripherals have been very good.

The Yankees bullpen has a 3.38 ERA and 3.37 FIP. Both numbers rank in the top three in the majors. However by Win Probability Added they haven’t been as productive as you would expect with their +1.62 coming in 14th.

Chad Green has been their most productive reliever. Green has a 1.64 ERA and 1.74 FIP in 65.1 innings. He has posted a 41.6% strikeout rate and 6.7% walk rate. He hasn’t gotten a lot of high leverage work, but he has been receiving higher leverage work recently.

Aroldis Chapman’s first year of a 5/$86MM deal hasn’t been great. He has a 3.42 ERA and 2.69 FIP. He’s still a very good reliever, but the results aren’t what you would expect of one of the best relievers in the game. His strikeout rate is down to 32.3% and his walk rate is at 10.0%.

Dellin Betances has been effectively wild. He has a 2.97 ERA and 3.20 FIP. He has posted a 39.1% strikeout rate, but the problem has been his 17.0% walk rate. He’s still been good enough to be a solid reliever, but not the dominant force he’s been the last few years.

David Robertson has been as effective as he’s ever been in pinstripes since he was acquired at the trade deadline from the Chicago White Sox. In 32.0 innings he has a 1.13 ERA and 1.96 FIP. He has a 38.8% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate.

Tommy Kahnle has been great this year. For the year he has a 2.48 ERA and 1.82 FIP in 61.2 innings split between the White Sox and Yankees. He has a 37.4% strikeout rate and 6.4% walk rate.

The Yankees have had the second best offense in baseball.

The Yankees are one of only two teams in the majors to score over 800 runs. They have scored 833 and the Houston Astros have scored 848. As a team they hit .262/.339/.447 with a 108 wRC+.

The Yankees offense is deep. Aaron Judge (169 wRC+) has been the leader with 50 homers. Gary Sanchez (133 wRC+) has been their second big middle of the order bat.

Todd Frazier (116 wRC+), Didi Gregorius (110 wRC+), Chase Headley (107 wRC+), Brett Gardner (106 wRC+), Starlin Castro (105 wRC+), and Jacoby Ellsbury (103 wRC+) have been good complementary bats.

We’re down to the final six games of the 2017 season.

Within a week there will be no more Rays baseball until next spring. The season hasn’t gone as many have hoped. The Rays set themselves up in a good spot, but weren’t able to finish strong, and as a results our guys will be hitting the golf courses this October.