The Tampa Bay Rays will open of a brief two-game series with the Yankees on Monday, in New York. Tampa Bay closed out its four-game series at home with Boston on Sunday afternoon, having dropped the final three games of the series after a 2-1 defeat. Meanwhile, New York finished its four-game road set against the Blue Jays, having dropped the last two games of the series to end up with a split after falling 7-4 Sunday afternoon.
The Rays started the year with a 6-4, come from behind victory over the Red Sox, yet dropped the final three games of the series after scoring a total of three runs. This, despite the fact they outhit the Red Sox 17-13 over the final two games of the series. The biggest concern, on the offensive end of things, is where the run production will come from, as the majority of the big numbers in that department last season came from guys who are no longer on the roster.
The Yankees, for the second consecutive day, saw their bullpen unravel and turn a potential victory into a loss. On Sunday, New York had a 4-1 lead after six innings but allowed two runs in the seventh and four in the eighth to lose. Brandon Drury was the only player for New York with two hits, while the team finished with only five. Didi Gregorius and Neil Walker drove in New York’s other runs.
Kevin Cash will turn to Chris Archer (0-0, 6.00 ERA) on Tuesday, and Blake Snell (0-0, ) in the series finale on Wednesday. Aaron Boone will counter with Jordan Montgomery (9-1, 3.88 ERA in 2017) and Luis Severino (1-0, 0.00 ERA).
Chris Archer came away with a no-decision on Opening Day after he allowed four runs over six innings. He struck out six. Archer settled down after allowing three early runs and cruised through the next four frames before he was penalized the third time through the order. The right-hander efficiently carved through Boston’s lineup — at one point retiring eight consecutive batters — by forcing contact as opposed to depending solely upon strikeouts. One wonders if he’ll approach the Yankees similarly on Wednesday. In nine career starts in the Bronx, the right-hander is 3-3 with a 3.13 ERA. He went 1-2 with a 4.24 ERA in four 2017 starts vs. the Yankees.
Jordan Montgomery will make his season debut for the Yankees on Monday, after making 29 starts last season as a rookie. Montgomery walked 51 over 150 innings of work last season, but also struck out 144. All told, he finished sixth in the race for the AL Rookie of the Year. He did not pitch in the postseason last year for New York. Montgomery relies primarily on a whiffy 81 mph 12/6 curveball, and a 92 mph sinker. He will also mix in an 85 mph changeup with cut action, a 92 mph fourseam fastball with good “rising action,” and an 86 mph slider. He has never faced the Rays.
Blake Snell was great in his first start of the season, allowing just three hits over 5-2/3 shutout innings, on 84 pitches (49 strikes; 59% strike ratio). After the game, Snell said he was “happy with (my) consistency in the zone … happy with my tempo … happy with my defense, I mean they really played great,” while also complimenting Ramos’ work behind the plate.
He, however, recognized that he needed to attack the zone more, especially later in the game — against a good contact team like the Red Sox — and that he tried to rack up the strikeouts and be a little too dirty. That, a handful of deep counts, and a pair of walks speak to his marginally high number of pitches thrown (14.8 pitches per inning).
Luis Severino was sharp in the season opener, hurling 5-2/3 scoreless innings of one-hit ball against Toronto. Last season, Severino relied primarily on a 98 mph fourseam fastball and a hard 89 mph worm killer slider. He also mixed in a firm 88 mph changeup with a lot of backspin. He was 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three starts against the Rays last season, striking out 27 against five walks. Key matchups: Matt Duffy (1-2), Adeiny Hechavarria (1-2, HR, RBI), Mallex Smith (1-1), Jesus Sucre (1-4)
— With Monday’s contest postponed due to snow, the Rays moved up Chris Archer, who was originally slated to start Wednesday, and Blake Snell, who was set to pitch on Thursday.
— The Yankees won the season series against the Rays last season 12-7, and went 8-2 at home (4-5 on the road).