The Tampa Bay Rays are set to begin a three-game series against the New York Yankees Friday night, at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay looks for consistency after splitting the last 10 games. The starting rotation has allowed just seven runs in their last three games, and three runs or less in seven of their last eight. Yet in spite of their 2.51 ERA (3.34 FIP) over that 10-game span, the offense hasn’t been able to pick up the hurlers with any consistency. Nevertheless, they have won five of their last eight games when allowing three runs or fewer.
The Yankees have won six of their last nine games, and look to keep things rolling this weekend. New York scored just nine runs in their last three games, and four or more runs in four of their last nine. And while their offense has been hit or miss of late, they’ve won nine straight consecutive games when scoring more than three runs.
Kevin Cash will throw Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.10 ERA), Drew Smyly (2-11, 5.42 ERA), and Blake Snell (2-4, 3.05 ERA) over the weekend series. Joe Girardi will respond with Ivan Nova (7-5, 4.65 ERA), Nathan Eovaldi (9-6, 4.80 ERA), and Michael Pineda (5-9, 5.00 ERA).
Rays Series Starters
Odorizzi threw eight scoreless frames in Friday’s extra-inning affair against the Athletics, allowing five hits and striking out five. In the midst of trade speculation, the 26 year-old righty showcased his best outing of the season. Sadly Odorizzi leads the league with 12 no-decisions, and in six of his no-decisions he’s allowed just one run or fewer. The culprit? Odorizzi is 13-14 since the start of last season, and has received just 24 runs of support in his 14 losses.
Smyly tossed six excellent innings of one-run ball Saturday against Oakland, fanning and walking one en route to a no-decision. The southpaw gave up a run in the first inning, after allowing three to reach base, before settling down and cruising for the next five, needing just 88 total pitches to do so. Smyly broke out of his slump of four straight losses, during which he posted an obscene 9.14 ERA, and nearly won his first game in over two months.
Snell relinquished just two runs in 6-2/3 innings on Sunday, collecting four strikeouts and walking two against the Athletics. The lefty got off to an inauspicious start by allowing two runs on four hits with just one out in the first inning, but he calmed down and allowed just five baserunners over the next six frames. Snell has posted three straight quality starts, while allowing just four runs in 18-2/3 innings in that span — lowering his season ERA to 3.06.
Yankees Series Starters
Nova, who could be the next hurler on the trade block for the Yankees, has had a home run problem this season, owning a 1.7 HR/9. He also hasn’t posted a K/9 above 8.0 since 2012. Be that as it may, the righty hurled seven innings of one-run ball in his last start, while scattering six hits and fanning seven. Nova collected 2-1/3 scoreless innings of work against Tampa Bay in April, but is 3-2 with a 5.11 ERA against the Rays in seven career starts. Key matchups: Curt Casali (1-2, 2B, RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (3-5, 3B, HR, 2 RBI), Evan Longoria (10-36, 2B, 3 R, 7 RBI, 3 BB)
Eovaldi allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks over 6-2/3 innings on Sunday, striking out six against the Giants. The righty has put together two consecutive solid starts since returning to the rotation, relinquishing just three runs in 12 innings of work, with a 1.75 K/BB. He’s also kept the ball in the park over that stretch and hasn’t allowed a homer in five consecutive appearances, improving on his 1.9 HR/9 held prior to that run. Eovaldi threw six innings of one-run, six-hit ball in May against the Rays, striking out seven. Key matchups: Logan Forsythe (2-8, 2B, BB), Brandon Guyer (2-6, 2B), Evan Longoria (2-7, RBI, BB), Logan Morrison (1-3), Steve Pearce (2-6), Steven Souza Jr. (2-6, BB)
Pineda gave up just one run on five hits Monday against Houston, striking out eight over seven innings work. Pineda notched eight or more strikeouts for the sixth time in eight starts. The righty owns a superb 4.57 K/BB over a 47-1/3 inning stretch, pairing with a 3.42 ERA. The long ball is still a problem for Nova, as he’s allowed seven over that eight game stretch. Pineda’s collected an 0-2 record to go along with a 13.50 ERA in two appearances against Tampa Bay this season (totaling 8-2/3 innings). Key matchups: Tim Beckham (1-2), Corey Dickerson (2-5, HR, 3 RBI), Logan Forsythe (4-6, 2B), Kevin Kiermaier (3-12, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, BB), Brad Miller (4-10, 2 2B, HR, RBI, 2 BB), Steve Pearce (5-12, 2B, HR, RBI), Steven Souza Jr. (6-14, 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI)
— Suffice it to say, the Rays have been incredibly unlucky this season. While they enter the series with New York at 39-61 on the season, they should be 49-51 according to BaseRuns. Compare that to the Yankees, who enter the series 52-49 on the season, and 47-54 record according to BaseRuns. That said, this should be a fairly evenly matched series.