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Rays at Yankees Series Preview: Playoff Preview?

The Rays could tie the Yankees this series.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Tampa Bay Rays Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays have accelerated over the last month as they look to overtake the New York Yankees in the American League East. Once 15.5 games back the Rays are now 4.5 games back and more importantly they only trail the Yankees by 3 games in the loss column. It just so happens that the Rays and Yankees play 3 games this weekend. If they secure the sweep they would be tied in the loss column and hold the head to head tiebreaker. The Rays need to take it one day at the time, but if they pull it off they will control their destiny as they head to the last leg of the season.

The good thing about having a legitimate chance at the division is they have nearly locked up a wild card with FanGraphs giving them a 98.4% chance of making the playoffs. The Rays hold the top wild card and have a 1.0 game lead on the Seattle Mariners and 1.5 game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays who currently possess the final two wild card spots. The Baltimore Orioles are 4.5 games back of a playoff spot as the first team out of the playoffs and 6.0 games back of the Rays. The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox have fallen off the wild card pace sitting 7.0 games behind Toronto and 8.5 games behind Tampa Bay.


Friday 7:05 PM: Drew Rasmussen vs Frankie Montas
Saturday 1:05 PM: Corey Kluber vs Jameson Taillon
Sunday 1:35 PM: TBA vs TBA

Frankie Montas rebounded from a tough start to his Yankees tenure with a great performance against the Rays, even if they were able to push his pitch count up and only make it through 5.0 scoreless innings. Montas throws a 96.2 mph four-seam fastball and 86.4 mph split finger changeup as his primary go to pitches. He adds a 87.1 mph slider against right handed batters. All three pitches can get whiffs.

Jameson Taillon has been a solid pitcher this season posting a 3.95 ERA/4.13 FIP/3.79 xFIP over 145.2 innings pitched. He doesn’t strike out a lot of batters (20.0% strikeout rate) but he avoids walks (4.3% walk rate). Taillon throws a 94.1 mph four-seam fastball, 86.2 mph slider, 81.1 mph curveball, 90.7 mph cutter, and 87.7 mph changeup.

Initially Gerrit Cole was scheduled to start game three. The game on Tuesday against the Twins was postponed moving him to the second game of the doubleheader on Wednesday. In order for him to start Sunday he would pitch on short rest, which is unlikely. It isn’t known who will start but one option is Luis Severino who has been rehabbing but wouldn’t be fully stretched out.

Aaron Judge is having the most dominant season I’ve seen since Barry Bonds in the early 2000s.

The Yankees offense has been good if you look at the overall numbers. They have hit .238/.322/.422 and put up a 114 wRC+. They lead the American League in runs scored (4.89 runs per game). However they have struggled in the second half. In the second half they have hit .222/.303/.375 and put up a 96 wRC+. Their run scoring has dropped to 3.87 runs per game.

Aaron Judge hasn’t been responsible for the second half drop in offense. He has hit .342/.493/.826 and put up a 260 wRC+. He has just had very little help. The only players with more than 30 plate appearances with a 100 wRC+ or higher are on the Injured List right now (Andrew Benintendi and Matt Carpenter).

Gleyber Torres (49 wRC+), Aaron Hicks (30 wRC+), and Giancarlo Stanton (-25 wRC+) have had the biggest struggles in the second half.

The Yankees offense is Aaron Judge, and then everybody else.


How many games will the Rays take in New York

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    (23 votes)
  • 33%
    (23 votes)
  • 23%
    (16 votes)
  • 10%
    (7 votes)
69 votes total Vote Now