The Tampa Bay Rays will cap their five-game road trip in New York, where they will face the Yankees for the second consecutive weekend, starting Friday. Both teams are coming off two-game sweeps of the Marlins and Orioles respectively.
Even though the Rays were limited to five runs total by the Marlins over the last two days, Tampa Bay’s pitching staff held Miami’s offense scoreless over the span of the series (18 innings). They look to exact some revenge on the Yankees, who took two-of-three from the Rays last weekend.
That would appear to be an easy task on paper after all New York has underperformed the league average by 14% over the last 14 days (as it relates to wRC+). The -5.4 wRAA over the same stretch certainly doesn’t look too pretty either. On their end, the Rays have outperformed their rivals, posting a 103 wRC+ and a 1.6 wRAA over that same 14-day stretch.
However, the Rays learned a firsthand lesson last weekend: they, like most teams in the league, are no match for the backend of the Yankee’s A-bullpen. If they are going to take two-of-three — in the very least — from the Evil Empire, the Rays will have to strike early and often, and protect any leads they may hold.
With Anthony Bemboom hitting the IL along with catchers Michael Perez and Mike Zunino, the Rays acquired veteran backstop Erik Kratz from the Giants for either a player to be named later or cash.
Kratz was designated for assignment by the Giants earlier this week, and he will now suit up for the ninth different team in 10 big league seasons in which he slashed a combined .208 BA/.256 OBP/.360 SLG/.616 OPS/.266 wOBA lined, with an overall 3.8 fWAR. However, he is seven seasons removed from a 2.1 fWAR campaign with the Phillies. Kratz will back up Travis d’Arnaud, himself a recent acquisition, and it’s probably safe to assume that his time with the Rays will be short as players begin to return from injury.
Whatever the case, Kratz is expected to join the team on Friday, while Aaron Slegers was designated for assignment to make room for the catcher.
Rays Pitching Probables
Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will lean on bulk innings guy Yonny Chirinos ()5-1, 3.61 ERA, Blake Snell (3-4, 3.56 ERA), and Charlie Morton (4-0, 2.32 ERA). Aaron Boone will counter with CC Sabathia (2-1, 3.26 ERA), Masahiro Tanaka (3-3, 3.44 ERA), and a pitcher to be named before the series finale on Sunday.
Yonny Chirinos earned the win against New York on Saturday, allowing two runs on four hits over four innings. He struck out two and walked one. Chirinos followed opener Ryne Stanek in the third inning, and while he wasn’t at his best, Tampa Bay scored five runs between the sixth and eighth innings to lock up his victory. The right-hander has a 3.61 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and a 3.88 K/BB across 42-1/3 innings. Chirinos is 3-1 with a 3.07 ERA in 14-2/3 innings against the Yankees.
CC Sabathia struck out two and allowed two runs on three hits and four walks across five innings on Saturday. The slovenly southpaw was removed after five frames despite throwing only 76 pitches (49 strikes, 64% strike rate), only to see the ‘pen immediately relinquish two runs after his exit. Sabathia has yet to complete six frames this season and has allowed three runs or fewer in all but one outing. He is now 17-16 with a 3.67 ERA across 49 career starts against the Rays. Key Matchups: Travis d’Arnaud (2-6, 2 BB), Yandy Diaz (1-3, HR, RBI), Avisail Garcia (4-16, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB), Guillermo Heredia (3-11, 2 2B, BB), Kevin Kiermaier (5-16, 2 HR, 2 RBI)
Blake Snell allowed two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out 12 over 5-2/3 on Sunday. Snell was cruising until an RBI double from Mike Tauchman and an RBI single from DJ LeMahieu in the fifth inning saddled him with his fourth loss of the season. The southpaw was dominant despite the loss, getting 26 swinging strikes in his start. He has allowed two runs with a 10.5 K/BB over his last two turns. Snell is 3-5 with a 4.25 ERA in 12 career starts against the Yankees, and 1-4 with a 5.63 ERA at Yankee Stadium.
Masahiro Tanaka allowed one run on five hits while striking out seven over seven innings on Sunday. A home run by Austin Meadows was the only damage given up by Tanaka en route his third win of the season. The right-hander did not give up a walk after allowing at least two in five of his last six starts. The long ball continues to be a problem for Tanaka as he has allowed home runs in each of his last seven starts. He is now 9-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 15 career starts against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (2-7, 2B, RBI), Ji-Man Choi (3-8, 2B, BB), Yandy Diaz (1-3), Avaisail Garcia (5-16, 2B, RBI, BB), Guillermo Heredia (1-4), Kevin Kiermaier (7-26, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, BB), Brandon Lowe (2-7, 2B), Austin Meadows (1-3, HR, RBI), Tommy Pham (3-8, 2B, HR, 2 RBI)
Charlie Morton pitched six shutout innings, scattering three hits while striking out five to earn the win in a 4-0 victory over the Marlins. The right-hander had one of his cleanest performances of the season Tuesday and got enough support to take the win. Morton has 61 punchouts over 50-1/3 innings (nine starts) this season and owns a 2.32 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Morton is 2-1 with a 4.10 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees, and 1-1 with a 5.30 ERA in three starts at Yankee Stadium.
NY Pitcher TBA