The Yankees swept the Orioles in a doubleheader on Wednesday, securing another series win. After their off day, the Yankees will face the Rays for a weekend series in the Bronx in a battle for first place in the division. This will be the second series against the Rays in a week with the Yankees taking 2 of 3 from the Rays last weekend.
Game 1: Friday 7:05 PM
TBD vs CC Sabathia (2-1; 3.26 ERA)
The Yankees will send CC Sabathia to the mound in game 1. He is coming off a performance in which he gave up 2 runs on 5 hits, earning a no decision against the Rays. The Rays have not yet announced a starter for game one however, it is expected to be an opener, followed by Yonny Chirinos. The likely opener is Ryan Stanek, who pitched two scoreless innings as an opener against the Yankees last weekend.
In his career, Sabathia is 17-16 in 49 career starts against the Rays. He has a 3.67 ERA, right on par with his 3.69 career ERA. He has struggled against Kevin Kiermaier and Avisail Garcia in his career. Kiermaier has 5 hits in 16 at bats, including 2 solo home runs. Garcia has 5 hits in 18 career at bats, including 2 doubles and a home run. He has performed extremely well against a number of other Rays, holding Tommy Pham, Daniel Robertson, and Willy Adames to 3 hits in 22 at bats with 8 strikeouts. Sabathia has consistently given the Yankees 5 quality innings and not much more, so expect to see the bullpen a decent amount in game 1.
Game 2: Saturday 1:05 PM
Blake Snell (3-4; 3.56 ERA) vs Masahiro Tanaka (3-3; 3.44 ERA)
Game two is a rematch of the series finale last weekend, a game in which Tanaka actually outdueled Blake Snell. Snell is the clear-cut ace for this Rays team and will be looking to get his season back on track after seeing mixed results since coming off of the IL. Tanaka will be looking to build off of his best outing of the season, a 7-inning performance where he struck out 7 while only giving up a run.
Tanaka has been terrific against the Rays in his career, going 9-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 15 starts. In 2018 and 2019, he has been particularly tough against them, giving up only 7 runs in 26 innings. He has struggled in his career against Avisail Garcia and Tommy Pham, but has been able to stifle most of the other Rays hitters, including Daniel Robertson, Willy Adames, and Travis d’Arnaud, giving up only 5 hits in 19 at bats to the trio. Snell has struggled in his career against the Yankees, going 3-5 with a 4.25 ERA. He has really struggled against Gary Sanchez and DJ LeMahieu. Sanchez is 4 for 11 and he has taken Snell deep three times. He has also walked 5 times. LeMahieu is 2 for 5, has driven in 1 run and walked once.
Game 3: Sunday 1:05 PM
Charlie Morton (4-0; 2.32 ERA) vs TBD
Charlie Morton will start the series finale for the Rays, while the Yankees have not officially announced a starter. The expectation is that the Yankees will pitch Luis Cessa and Chance Adams, however the order is not known. It is also unknown if the Yankees will allow Cessa to pitch more than a few innings if he is named the starter for the game.
In his career, Morton is 2-1 with a 4.10 ERA against the Yankees in 4 starts. He was terrific against the Yankees as a member of the Astros in 2018, going 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA in two starts. He gave up only 4 runs in 13.2 innings. He had been a mediocre pitcher up to the 2017 season, when he joined the Astros. After joining the Astros, he was able to completely turn his career around and in 2018 he became one of the top pitchers in the American league. His success has carried over since joining the Rays on a two-year deal during the offseason. In his career he has struggled against Brett Gardner and DJ LeMahieu, giving up 5 hits in 14 at bats to Gardner, and 4 hits in 11 at bats to LeMahieu. He has been able to stifle the Yankees power bats, giving up only 1 home run to current Yankee hitters (a 2018 Brett Gardner home run).
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
Gleyber Torres (Hot)
Gleyber Torres is scorching hot. He is coming off of a three-home run day after playing in both games of the double header on Wednesday. In the last week he has 8 hits in 18 at bats, including 3 home runs and 2 doubles. He has quietly had a terrific season, hitting .290 with 18 extra base hits in 40 games.
Tommy Kahnle (Hot)
Tommy Kahnle was one of the biggest question marks on the Yankees roster headed into the 2019 season. He has quickly made fans forget about his terrible 2018 season with a terrific start to 2019. In the last week he has made three appearances, pitching 2.2 innings. During this time, he has not allowed a run, he has struck out 5, and he has earned a hold in each game. His resurgence in 2019 has been a welcome sight for a Yankees squad who is still waiting for Dellin Betances to return from the IL.
Clint Frazier (Not)
Since coming off of the IL a couple weeks ago, Clint Frazier has really struggled. He has 6 hits in 32 at bats since coming back from injury and only one of those hits has been for extra bases. The Yankees outfield has really struggled to produce during this time, and Frazier is a huge reason why.
Brett Gardner (Not)
Brett Gardner has been asked to do more than even he could have imagined so far in 2019. Through 41 games, he was tasked with being the everyday center fielder and at one point was the team’s 3-hole hitter. Now that Aaron Hick has returned, Gardy can slide back to right field and down in the order. He has been terrible so far in May, with 5 hits in 38 at bats. In the last week he has been even worse, going 1 for 18 without a walk. As the team begins to get healthy, hopefully they can start relying on other players to do more as Gardy continues to show signs of slowing down with age.
Fantasy Players to Watch
Torres looks like he is going to go on one of those tears where every time he makes contact, it turns into a base hit. He had a huge series against the Rays last weekend and followed that up by hitting 3 home runs in the double header on Wednesday.
With Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier struggling mightily and Cameron Maybin not getting enough playing time to assert himself as a force on offense, the choice has to be Aaron Hicks. Hopefully Hicks can get off to a hot start after spending the first 41 games of the season on the IL with a back strain.
Masahiro Tanaka was masterful against the Rays last weekend. Hopefully he can continue to assert his dominance. He is the clear cut favorite for the fantasy choice because he can provide the Yankees with more length than Cessa/Adams and can strike hitters out at a much better rate than CC Sabathia can.
Tommy Kahnle has been a godsend for the Yankees so far in 2019. His high velocity fastball and power changeup have allowed him to rack up strikeouts this season. With Chapman and Britton pitching both games of the double header, Boone will likely try to avoid using them much in this series. As a result, Kahnle is a great choice for the fantasy series.
Hopefully the Yankees can continue their winning ways against a Rays team who is a half-game ahead of them in the division standings. Although it is extremely early in the season, it would be refreshing to see the Yankees grab the division lead.
Keep up with the series previews all season and as always go Yanks!
Editors Note: This is a new thing we are doing this season. Each series you will choose one outfielder, one infielder, one starting pitcher, and one relief pitcher. We are only counting two stats. Total bases for hitters and strikeouts for pitchers.
Your totals will be counted and a winner will receive a prize at the end of each month. Make sure you come back and make your picks before each series. You will find them right here on the series preview post.