Suppose the last few series weren’t urgent enough or exciting enough for New York Yankee fans. In that case this weekend it will be upfront and in your face, over the top exciting at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx as the Yankees play their final regular-season series with their rival Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have already clinched the AL East, so basically, they have nothing to lose, but believe it, they won’t let the Yankees off the hook.
The Tampa Bay Rays hate the New York Yankees for a variety of reasons. The tensions between these two teams have been building for years. So if you think for one moment that the Rays will roll over and let the Yankees win, think again. They will do anything to shame the Yankees or knock them out of a home-field advantage in the wild card. They may realign their pitching for the postseason, but you can be sure the Rays’ hitters will not let up on Yankee pitching.
Much of this series will depend on the powerful New York Yankees remaining powerful. Hitting will be all-important. The Yankees hit 8 long balls in the Toronto Blue Jays series. Three by Aaron Judge.
Tonight, October 1, 7:05 pm EDT
Tonight the Yankees will send Nasty Nestor Cortes Jr. to the mound. You can be sure that “Bronxie,” the turtle that he bought for the team, won’t be on the mound with him, but don’t be surprised after the game if he says he rubbed his little back for luck before taking the field. “Bronxie” has been a winning charm for the Yankees since his purchase and has become the unofficial mascot of the Yankees.
Cortes is a lefty that is 2-2 with an ERA of 2.85 and 98 strikeouts. Please pay more attention to his ERA than his record. The reliever turned starter is a much better pitcher than his stats would indicate. His range of pitches and different arm angles mystify hitters. Since becoming a starter late in July, the Yankees have won eight of his eleven starts.Â Brandon Lowe and Ji-Man Choi have been quite successful off him.
Shane McClanahan has been one of the best Rays pitchers this season. The lefty is 10-6 with an ERA of 3.44 and 138 strikeouts. This game will probably be the most challenging of the three pitting these two pitchers together. McClanahan is coming off his 10th win of the season against the Miami Marlins. If anything has plagued him this season, it is winning several, followed by losing several. Before the win, he is coming off losses in his previous three starts. Other than DJ LeMahieu, the top of the Yankee line-up has not been successful off on him; the bottom is a different story. Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela both have .600 batting averages off him in 5 at-bats.
Saturday, October 2, 1:05 pm EDT
Saturday’s matinee will feature the matchup of veteran Jordan Montgomery against the young Shane Baz. Montgomery is a lefty that is 6-6 with an ERA of 3.49 and 159 strikeouts. “Monty” is the Yankee poster boy for getting little run support in his games. He is coming off two wins against the Texas Rangers and the Boston Red Sox. He has had only one bad outing this season. It was on September 10th when he gave up seven earned runs in just 3.1 innings of work. The Rays hitters have not been particularly successful of him, but he will have to watch out for Manuel Margot, who in 14 at-bats has a .357 batting average.
Shane Baz will be a mystery to Yankee hitters as they have not seen him pitch except on video. He made his major league debut on September 20th and has won both of his games against the Toronto Blue jays and the Miami Marlins. He has pitched a total of 10.2 innings. In his Toronto game, he gave up two home runs. In his Marlins start, he allowed three hits in his scoreless 5.2 innings.
Sunday, October 3, 3:05 pm EDT
As a note, all games on the last day of the season will start at 3:05. The New York Yankees want to see how the first two games go before deciding on a starter for game three of the series. They would like to save Gerrit Cole for the wild card game, but he will be available on short rest if the need arises.
Whoever the Yankees send to the mound, he will face the Rays’ Michael Wacha, a righty that is 3-5 with an elevated ERA of 5.26 and 119 strikeouts. Wacha has already met the Yankees three times this season, winning two of those games. However, he has not pitched well lately. The Rays have lost eight of his last eleven starts and are coming off four losses in a row. Anthony Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu have been big trouble for Wacha.
All three of these games will be televised on the YES Network and Bally Sports Sun. Tonight’s game and the game on Saturday will also be on MLBN out of market.