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Yankees Series Preview: Rays face tall challenge in New York

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays escaped Minneapolis with a single win against the Minnesota Twins. Now they head to the Big Apple to take on the scorching hot New York Yankees.

Since the Rays won the final two games of their four game series at Tropicana Field the Yankees have won 11 of their last 12 games. In other words, the Yankees are on a 119 game win pace.

The Yankees hold a 8.0 game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays, 9.0 game lead on the Rays, 12.5 game lead on the Boston Red Sox, and 19.0 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles. The Red Sox hold the third Wild Card with the Rays holding a four game lead over the Cleveland Guardians.

Schedule

Tuesday 7:05 PM: Corey Kluber vs Gerrit Cole
Wednesday 7:05 PM: Shane McClanahan vs Nestor Cortes
Thursday 7:05 PM: Drew Rasmussen vs Luis Severino

The good news here is Gerrit Cole has the highest ERA among the Yankee starters. The bad news that it is only 3.63. He’s put up a 3.63 ERA/3.58 FIP/2.79 xFIP over 67.0 innings. In his last start the Minnesota Twins hitters hit five homers in 2.1 innings. Cole brings the heat with a 97.6 mph four-seam fastball that he throws nearly half the time. He adds a 88.1 mph slider, 92.1 mph cutter, 89.7 mph changeup, adn 82.9 mph curveball. The changeup he typically throws against lefties and will limit his slider against lefties.

Nestor Cortes has been one of the best starting pitchers in the game. He’s put up a 1.96 ERA/2.85 FIP/3.24 xFIP over 64.1 innings. Despite the lack of high end velocity he has a 28.6% strikeout rate and 5.6% walk rate. Cortes uses a 91.1 mph four-seam fastball and 86.4 mph cutter as his two primary pitches. He mixes in a 77.2 mph slider. He will add in a 82.6 mph changeup to right handed batters occasionally but not all that frequently. The cutter is his primary swing and miss pitch.

Luis Severino is back to pre-Tommy John surgery form. He’s put up a 2.80 ERA/3.46 FIP/3.18 xFIP over 61.0 innings. He’s put up a 28.9% strikeout rate and 6.1% walk rate. Severino works off a 96.3 mph four-seam fastball. His go to secondary is a 89.3 mph changeup. His putaway pitch is a 84.9 mph slider that he is willing to throw to left handed batters but at a lower frequency than right handed batters.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox
Nestor Cortes
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Bronx Bombers are back.

Last year the Yankees had a mediocre offense. The biggest problem was they didn’t for the power that was expected. This year everything has changed. They lead the majors with 98 homers and a .191 ISO. They have hit .250/.328/.441 and put up a 120 wRC+.

Aaron Judge bet on himself after turning down a lucrative extension offer from the Yankees. He’s hitting .318/.391/.686 and putting up a 198 wRC+. He also leads the majors with 24 homers and 3.7 fWAR.

Giancarlo Stanton (147 wRC+), Anthony Rizzo (126 wRC+), Gleyber Torres (123 wRC+), and Josh Donaldson (113 wRC+) have provided a lot of support.

DJ LeMahieu (120 wRC+) has bounced back after a lackluster 2021 campaign. Matt Carpenter returned to the majors as a member of the Yankees at Tropicana Field and since then, in 30 plate appearances, has 6 homers and a 325 wRC+.

Aaron hicks (89 wRC+), Isiah Kiner-Falefa (83 wRC+), and Joey Gallo (91 wRC+) haven’t been terrible, but Yankee fans expect more.

The Yankees are good, but not this good. Regression will come and let’s hope it starts against the Rays.