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Series Preview: Time to crack down on the Yankees

Rays Thor about to tell the baby bombers to pipe down

Tampa Bay Rays Photo Day Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays head home after two tough road series in New York and Houston. The Rays salvaged one game in each, but played the top teams in baseball tough more often than not. And who doesn’t appreciate hard fought losses?

The New York Yankees won three out of four against the Rays last weekend, and since has won four in a row against the Washington Nationals and Seattle Mariners (not pushovers).

The Matchups:

Friday 7:10 PM: CC Sabathia vs Ryne Stanek / Ryan Yarbrough
Saturday 4:10 PM: Sonny Gray vs Wilmer Font
Sunday 1:10 PM: Domingo German vs Blake Snell

The Rays avoid Luis Severino.

Yankees Starters Last 3 Years

Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
CC Sabathia 85 483.2 19.0% 8.2% 1.23 3.80 4.48
Sonny Gray 79 459.1 20.0% 8.5% 1.14 4.29 4.22
Domingo German 8 74.2 28.8% 9.6% 1.33 4.46 3.93

CC Sabathia held the Rays to three early runs in his last start, but was effective through 7.2 innings. Sabathia isn’t the pitcher he was a decade ago, but he can navigate the strike zone and struck out ten Rays batters in his last start.

Sonny Gray hasn’t been the pitcher the Yankees expected when they traded for him last summer. This year he has a 4.89 ERA and 4.26 FIP through 73.2 innings. He has allowed two or fewer runs in three of his last four starts including a two run effort his last time out against the Washington Nationals.

Domingo German been solid since joining the rotation at the beginning of May. His last time out he held the Seattle Mariners to two runs, one earned, through 7.0 innings. Last week the Rays scored three against him in 6.0 innings.

No Yankees reliever has thrown more than once in the past three days.

Yankees Relievers Last 3 Years

Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Dellin Betances 213 214.2 40.5% 12.3% 0.75 2.85 2.64
David Robertson 188 197.1 32.3% 9.3% 0.82 3.06 2.90
Aroldis Chapman 178 177.0 39.3% 9.5% 0.36 1.88 1.82
Adam Warren 142 167.0 22.4% 8.8% 0.92 3.23 3.78
Chasen Shreve 143 134.2 26.4% 12.4% 2.00 4.41 5.43
Chad Green 71 110.2 37.0% 6.3% 0.65 1.71 2.07
Jonathan Holder 69 74.2 23.2% 5.2% 0.84 3.38 3.23
Luis Cessa 16 37.0 16.8% 8.4% 1.70 4.38 5.33

Aroldis Chapman is in dominant form with a 1.07 ERA and 1.31 FIP through 33.1 innings this year with a 43.5% strikeout rate.

Chad Green is one of the most under appreciated relievers over the past couple years. This year he has a 2.36 ERA and 2.60 FIP in 34.1 innings. He is asked to get four plus outs frequently.

Last year Dellin Betances has trouble finding the strike zone with a 16.9% walk rate, but this year it’s been held in check at 9.9%. His 45.8% strikeout rate gives him a lot of room for error.

Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve threw 30+ pitches and 2.0 plus innings on Wednesday night, so they might be limited tonight, but should then be at full strength tomorrow.

The Yankees have the second best offense in the majors.

Yankees Batters Last 3 Years

Batter PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Batter PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Brett Gardner 1965 42 51 11.0% 18.1% 0.259 0.348 0.388 0.324 102
Didi Gregorius 1810 64 21 5.0% 13.3% 0.278 0.319 0.452 0.328 104
Giancarlo Stanton 1492 106 4 10.9% 27.4% 0.263 0.350 0.559 0.377 137
Neil Walker 1426 51 5 10.0% 18.0% 0.266 0.342 0.438 0.335 111
Aaron Hicks 1246 43 26 11.1% 18.3% 0.247 0.331 0.422 0.326 103
Aaron Judge 1092 75 13 17.1% 31.9% 0.273 0.401 0.583 0.409 160
Gary Sanchez 1012 67 3 9.3% 23.7% 0.262 0.339 0.537 0.368 132
Andrew Romine 753 7 21 6.0% 21.1% 0.228 0.287 0.312 0.265 60
Greg Bird 436 23 0 10.6% 27.3% 0.223 0.312 0.466 0.333 109
Miguel Andujar 259 10 2 4.2% 17.8% 0.298 0.328 0.539 0.366 133
Gleyber Torres 200 14 2 6.5% 26.0% 0.291 0.347 0.560 0.382 144
Clint Frazier 165 4 1 6.1% 29.1% 0.248 0.297 0.451 0.315 95

The Yankees are hitting .253/.331/.466 with a 116 wRC+ that ranks second in the majors, and their 381 runs also comes in second to the Houston Astros. Last weekend the Rays held the Yankees to 14 runs in a four game series at Yankees Stadium. The Rays are going to need to hold them to similar numbers to have a chance at winning.

Aaron Judge leads the offense with a 162 wRC+ and 19 homers. Giancarlo Stanton has been disappointing on some levels, but he still has put up a 121 wRC+ with 18 homers.

Miguel Andujar (128 wRC+) and Gleyber Torres (144 wRC+) have hit the ground running since being called up earlier this year.

Didi Gregorius (117 wRC+), Brett Gardner (104 wRC+), and Aaron Hicks (122 wRC+) have provided good veteran bats.

Neil Walker has struggled after signing a free agent contract as the season approached with a 54 wRC+ over 168 plate appearances (remember him, Danny?).

The Rays have survived their tough portion of the schedule.

Between May 11 and June 20 the Rays played 40 games with only two days off. They went 19-21. The Rays face a tough schedule to end the month of June with series against the Yankees, Astros, and Nationals. In July the schedule lightens significantly.

The Rays look to continue their transition to the youngsters on the position side against the best competition.