Yankees vs. Rays Preview

The Yankees start a key four-game series with their divisional rivals from the Sunshine State tonight when they take on the Rays in Tampa. It’s the first meeting of the year between the two AL powerhouses, both of whom have played very well but have faced many questions about the strength of their respective schedules.

The Rays are currently 26-17, 4.5 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. Although that’s a little misleading as their run differential and strength of schedule suggest they should be about three games worse than that. Regardless, despite the Yankees having a tremendous first seven weeks to the season, they haven’t been able to leave the Rays in the dust.

The Rays can swing the bat as they rank 5th in team OPS+ in MLB and have eight regulars with a wRC+ of over 111, led by right fielder Manuel Margot who is off to a great start with a 173 wRC+ and 1.3 fWAR. Margot strikes out very rarely, and hits line drives very commonly which has led to a great .347/.405/.495 triple-slash line so far in 2022.

We know (as always) the Rays will be aggressive on the bases as their 34 swipes are the second-most in MLB, and we know that they will go to the bullpen early and often as their bullpen has logged more innings than their starters this season.

Tonight, they’ll send five-year veteran Ryan Yarbrough to the mound looking for the team’s sixth win in their last eight games. The lefty Yarbrough will barely reach the mid-80s in velocity and will come at hitters with a cutter, change, curve, and sinker. Used as both a starter and a reliever in his career, Yarbrough has posted an ERA+ of 96 and a FIP of 4.05 over 514.2 career innings.

The Yankees made some news today as they signed infielder Matt Carpenter. Carpenter was one of the better hitters in the NL from 2012 through 2018 posting a 131 OPS+ over 4,296 PA. Since then, he fell off a cliff with a pretty weak 82 OPS+ over 910 PA. He hit pretty well for Texas’ AAA team this season posting a .275/.379/.613 triple-slash line in 95 PA. Obviously, Texas wasn’t impressed as they released the three-time All-Star and 2013 Silver Slugger winner a week ago today. Let’s hope as a lefty pull hitter who elevates the ball, that he and the short porch become acquainted.

The Yanks will send Nasty Nestor Cortes to the mound tonight with the following lineup looking to do damage on his behalf:

Hicks CF
Judge DH
Rizzo 1B
Torres 2B
Andújar LF
Gallo RF
Kiner-Falefa SS
Gonzalez 3B
Trevino C

The first pitch from the Trop is at 6:40. You can watch it on the YES Network, and the MLB Network, and stream it on MLB.tv. The radio call can be heard on WFAN 101.9/660 and WADO 1280, and as always, follow along with me @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and the “My Baseball Page” on Facebook.

Let’s get three in a row tonight, Bombers!

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