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Series Preview: Rays vs Yankees

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays return home after a nightmare of a road trip. They went 2-7 and were swept by the New York Yankees. Six of the games were decided by one run. Unfortunately the Rays only won one of the six. Now the Rays face the Yankees at Tropicana Field.

The Yankees have won 16 of their last 18 and have expanded their lead to 11.0 over the Toronto Blue Jays, 13.0 over the Rays, 13.5 over the Boston Red Sox, and 20.0 over the Baltimore Orioles.


Monday 7:10 PM: Gerrit Cole vs Shane McClanahan
Tuesday 7:10 PM: Nestor Cortes vs TBA
Wednesday 7:10 PM: Jordan Montgomery vs Shane Baz

Gerrit Cole has been one of the best pitchers in the game over the last several years. This year he’s only been very good, but did hold the Rays scoreless last week at Yankee Stadium. Over 73.0 innings he’s put up a 3.33 ERA/3.38 FIP/2.80 xFIP. He’s posted a 30.6% strikeout rate and 6.1% walk rate. Cole works off a 97.6 mph four-seam fastball. His primary offspeed pitch is a 88.1 mph slider and he’ll mix in a 92.1 mph cutter, 89.7 mph changeup, and 82.8 mph curveball. He limits the use of the changeup and curveball to right handers and ramps up the use of his slider.

Nestor Cortes continues to be one of the biggest surprises of the 2022 season. Cortes has the second best ERA in the American League at 1.94 trailing only the Rays game one starter Shane McClanahan at 1.84. His ERA looks to be a little fortunate but he’s posted a 2.87 FIP and 3.49 xFIP which are still very good even if they are a point to a point and a half higher than his ERA. The most surprising part of his package has been a 27.8% strikeout rate. He has limited walks to a 6.3% rate. Cortes mostly works with a 91.2 mph four-seam fastball and 86.5 mph cutter. He’ll mix in a 77.2 mph that works more like a curveball as part of the package. The slider is the pitch that has been hit for the most damage with a .437 wOBA allowed and a mediocre 15.2% whiff rate.

Jordan Montgomery continues to impress with a 2.72 ERA/3.54 FIP/3.60 xFIP over 72.2 innings. His strikeout rate has fallen to 19.4% but he’s also dropped his walk rate to 3.8%. Montgomery throws a 92.5 mph sinker, 81.9 mph changeup, 79.6 mph curveball, and 92.3 mph four-seam fastball as part of his four pitch mix. The curveball is his primary putaway pitch. His changeup is where most hitters have done the most damage.

The Yankees have been the most productive offense in the game.

A lot of people will talk about how the Yankees defense has helped them get off a scorching start in the season, but the biggest difference has been in the batters box. Last year they were a middling offense with a 101 wRC+ and 4.39 runs per game. This year they are up to 122 wRC+ and 5.16 runs per game.

Aaron Judge has been one of the best hitters in the game. He’s put up a .305/.382/.654 line and 189 wRC+. He leads the majors with 25 homers, stolen 4 bases, and even played solidly in center field.

Anthony Rizzo (142 wRC+), Giancarlo Stanton (140 wRC+), and Gleyber Torres (137 wRC+) have been great after subpar 2021 seasons.

DJ LeMahieu (117 wRC+) and Josh Donaldson (112 wRC+) have been good.

Joey Gallo (96 wRC+) and Aaron Hicks (90 wRC+) have been the worst everyday performers but if that’s as bad as it gets it’s going to be tough for pitchers to work through most days.