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Rays vs. Yankees pitcher breakdown

Part II of our series

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Earlier today, we had part one of this series, so check that out for any details. On to the matchups.

SP1: Blake Snell vs. Masahiro Tanaka

Snell is having an interesting follow-up to his 2018 Cy Young. His xFIP is actually lower than last year (2.96 down from 3.16), but his ERA is nearly twice what it was in 2018 (3.70 up from 1.89). Not that I have to win over anyone here, but Snell is the real deal, and one of the few “aces” (comment section, debate that term) in baseball. Tanaka has a better ERA so far this season (3.23), and he made the Rays look like kindergartners last night, but his FIP and xFIP (3.76 and 3.83, respectively) paint the picture of a pitcher a small tier below Snell. That’s accurate.

Winner: Tampa Bay

Poll

SP1 advantage

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Rays
    (23 votes)
  • 46%
    Yanks
    (20 votes)
43 votes total Vote Now

SP2: Charlie Morton vs. James Paxton

Two players brought in this offseason, one via contract, one via trade, and both have done well with their new clubs. But Morton has done better. His 2.37 ERA and 8-1 record make the old school folks giddy, while his 2.90 FIP and 3.31 xFIP keep the new age folks in line. He’s striking out over 11 batters per nine and would be the SP1 for over half the league. Given his playoff pedigree, you could argue he’d be the one to get the ball in a potential Wild Card game.

Winner: Tampa Bay

Poll

SP2 advantage

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Rays
    (24 votes)
  • 36%
    Yanks
    (14 votes)
38 votes total Vote Now

SP3: Tyler Glasnow vs. Domingo German

Two pitchers who, as of this second, find themselves on the DL. Both have high ceilings but have yet to fully prove themselves. I’m fine calling this a wash, although I’m guessing many of you won’t.

Winner: Draw

Poll

SP3 advantage

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Rays
    (23 votes)
  • 42%
    Yanks
    (17 votes)
40 votes total Vote Now

SP4: Yonny Chirinos vs. J.A. Happ

Yonny has broken out in 2019, while Happ has his highest ERA since 2012. That being said, I think I agree with the projections, that these two are pretty much a toss-up for the rest of the season. In fact, even though I love me some Yonny, I think I’d give the slightest of edges to Happ because Chirinos has never gone over 130 innings once in his career so far, and Happ should eventually come back closer to his 2017/2018 numbers (~3.60 ERA).

Winner: New York

Poll

SP4 advantage

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Rays
    (19 votes)
  • 52%
    Yanks
    (21 votes)
40 votes total Vote Now

SP5: Jalen Beeks vs. CC Sabathia

Both of these choices for number five starter could really be disputed. The fifth spot in a modern rotation is far from a stable position, and the Rays could have any number of pitchers in this role (Ryan Yarbrough, Jose De Leon, maybe even Brendan McKay?!). For the Yanks, Sabathia is in the rotation right now, but New Yorkers would like to see nothing more than Sabathia as an extra piece after a potential Luis Severino return. But given that headlines right now are saying things like, “How Luis Severino’s return date is still a mystery — even to the Yankees” it’s fair to leave him off for now. And if the Yanks have to rely on CC, it’s not going to be pretty. His 4.42 ERA is livable, but his 6.01 FIP and 5.03 xFIP scream regression. Beeks has been handled with kid gloves so far, but that’s how the Rays roll. They will keep those gloves on, and that’s the better option right now.

Winner: Tampa Bay

Poll

SP5 advantage

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Rays
    (17 votes)
  • 57%
    Yanks
    (23 votes)
40 votes total Vote Now

High-leverage arms: Jose Alvarado/Diego Castillo vs. Aroldis Chapman/Zack Britton

It doesn’t get a whole lot better than Thunder and Thunder at the back of the Rays pen, but Chapman/Britton is one of the rare duos that actually is better. Especially given some of the hiccups we’ve seen in big moments from Alvarado/Castillo this year. The one thing going in Tampa Bay’s favor is that Kevin Cash is far more malleable with his late-inning arms, he’s not afraid to use Alvarado in the eighth if needed, while Aaron Boone is a little more typical in his handling of his “closer” and “set-up man.”

Winner: New York

Poll

High leverage advantage

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Rays
    (3 votes)
  • 91%
    Yanks
    (34 votes)
37 votes total Vote Now

Low-leverage arms: Emilio Pagan/Colin Poche/Ryne Stanek vs. Adam Ottavino/Tommy Kahnle/Chad Green

This is where both pens really show off. But again, it’s the Yankees who flaunt it more. Stanek vs. Green is pretty much a wash, and Pagan and Poche have shown flashes that suggest possible ceilings around Ottavino and Kahnle, but the Yankee crew is simply far too proven to make this is a real battle.

Winner: New York

Poll

Low leverage advantage

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Rays
    (11 votes)
  • 69%
    Yanks
    (25 votes)
36 votes total Vote Now

So, that’s 3-3-1 on the pitching side of things (again, I’ll take a guess at reader votes and say 4-3 Rays), combined with the 4-3-2 on the hitters side of things. The takeaway: These two teams are VERY evenly matched, and will likely be battling it out for AL East supremacy all season long. No shocker.