New York Yankees Previews: Yankee Rays finale tonight at the Stadium, amid rising animosity

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

For the New York Yankees, tonight will mark the last time they will meet up with the Tampa Bay Rays during this 2020 regular season. It is no secret that the competition and tension have been intense at times in the last few years between these two teams. Last night that became evident, when at the completion of the game, both dugouts took to the field in a shouting match.

The Yankees had pretty much been cruising along in the East Division until they met up with the Rays at Tropicana Field back in August. The Yankees and Rays had a four-game series, of which the Yankees only won one game, marking the first time in the season that the Yankees lost a series. Later in the month, the Rays came to Yankee Stadium for a three-game series.  The Yankees were hoping to get revenge, and at least win two out of three, to get the series win.  Instead, it was a nightmarish series that the Rays swept.

Fast forward to Monday. The New York Yankee ace Gerrit Cole took to the mound looking for a win against Tyler Glasnow, and the Rays. It was not to happen as the Rays took the game 5-3 even though the Yankees made a late-game rally. That loss made it the 7th time in eight games that the Rays were victorious over the Yankees.  Last night Masahiro took the mound to right the ship. He did pitch well, going six innings allowing only two runs, with seven strikeouts. But in the first inning, Tanaka hit Joey Wendle in an obviously misplaced pitch.

At the ninth, the first pitch from Aroldis Chapman whizzed by Michael Brosseau’s helmet, it was a pitch that the Rays thought was on purpose, not to just move him off the plate. Brosseau struck out to end the game, but the interaction between the teams was not over.  After a few words were said, but dugouts emptied causing a shouting match that was quelled by the umpires.  In an after-game interview, Rays manager Kevin Cash was very angry, and appeared to suggest that retaliation might be forthcoming when he said, we have a pen full of pitchers that can throw 98 mph.

Tonight’s matchup will be televised on the YES Network and Fox Sports Sun.  The game will be played under cloudy skies that will progress to scattered thunderstorms as the game progresses.  Game time temperatures will be in the upper ’70s.

Tonight with the shadow of the animosity and tension between the clubs, Jordan Montgomery will take the mound at 7:05 pm at the Stadium. It is not out of the question that umpires may warn each club, even before the game starts, to avoid a confrontation. Whether that will be successful or not remains to be seen.  Fans from both sides will be watching carefully.

Montgomery of all Yankee pitchers has the best fWAR.  fWAR refers to Fangraphs’ calculation of WAR. bWAR or rWAR refers to Baseball-Reference’s calculation. And WARP refers to Baseball Prospectus’ statistic “Wins Above Replacement Player.” The calculations differ slightly — for instance, fWAR uses FIP in determining pitcher WAR, while bWAR uses RA9. Montgomery’s fWAR is 3.4, Gerrit Cole’s is 2.5.  Montgomery, a lefty is 2-1 with an ERA of 4.44.  He waited 13 days before his last start against the Mets, he gave up two earned runs over five innings.  In an after-game interview, he stated that he thought the long layoff affected him.

The New York Yankees will face a familiar face in Charlie Morton.  Morton is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA.  It is not likely that Morton will go more than three or four innings, as he is coming off three weeks of rehab from shoulder inflammation. The Yankees have faced Morton several times dating back to when he was a Houston Astro. Morton is not quite the pitcher for the Rays that he was during his time with the Astros.  Both Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks have gotten homers off Morton.  Brett Gardner and DJ LeMahieu are most familiar with Morton having faced him 21 and 19 times respectively.  Their batting averages off Morton are .381 for Gardner and .368 for DJ.

Hopefully, the storyline tonight will be the pitching matchup. However, with the tension existing between the clubs, that may not be the case. Hopefully, no one will get hurt, and both teams will behave themselves. After tonight, the Yankees go crosstown to make up a game with the Mets. J.A. Happ after pitching a brilliant game will again face the Mets. Then the Yankees will travel to Camden Yards for a four-game set that will feature a Saturday, day-night doubleheader.