New York Yankees: Tampa Bay Rays series preview (update)

William Parlee
New York Yankees, Nick Nelson

The New York Yankees will meet up with the Tampa Bay Rays tonight at 7:05 pm for their second series between the two teams that really don’t like each other, this time at Yankee Stadium.  The dislike between these two teams has been building for the last few years, and there is no reason to believe that will be going away any time soon. During the last meeting at the Trop, Yankee pitchers hit several Rays without any retaliation in those three games. They may think that our pitchers stink, and it wasn’t on purpose.

If they think our pitchers stink, they have good reason too, if your name isn’t Gerrit Cole or Jordan Montgomery, the moniker applies to you. So far in the young season, Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, and Domingo German have fared quite poorly. Luckily the bullpen has been nearly perfect. It is anyone’s guess how long that will last if they continue to be overused.

Going into spring training, the Yankees thought their major competitor this season would be the Toronto Blue Jays as the Tampa Bay Rays seemed to be greatly diminished after trading their Ace Blake Snell to the Padres and letting Charlie Morton walk to the Braves. However, it now appears the Yankees will have their hands full with both teams. Tyler Glasnow has emerged as the new Ray’s ace. This season, in his first three starts, he is pitching better than Snell ever did. He has an ERA of .046.

Game one today:

Tonight a yet-to-be-named New York Yankee pitcher will face the Tampa Bay Rays’ Michael Wacha. That may be good news for the Yankees because he is the only Ray pitcher that did not pitch well against the Yankees. In his first appearance, he gave up three runs in four innings of work.

This week the Yankees optioned Albert Abreu to Scranton without making a corresponding move. It would seem likely that they will bring up Michael King to at least start tonight’s game. King came in relief of Domingo German when he bombed against the Blue Jays and pitched six solid shut-out innings in the Yankee win. However, the Yankees have other options for tonight’s game, including Deivi Garcia.

The Yankees will be celebrating Jackie Robinson Day tonight. The game tonight will be at 7:05 pm and will be broadcast on Bally Sports Sun in Florida and the New York area on the YES Network. The game will also be on MLBN out of market.

UPDATE: In a last-minute move the Yankees are starting Nick Nelson tonight. The start is quite surprising as he has been the worst Yankee reliever giving up 5 earned runs in 3 games and 4 innings pitched.

Game two Saturday:

Game two will feature the Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery against a yet-to-be-announced Rays Pitcher. Montgomery in his first outing against Baltimore was impressive, but in his last outing against the Rays, he did not fare as well; he gave up four runs in 5 innings of work. He also had the distinction of bonking Austin Meadows twice in the same game, causing the umpires to warn both sides.

The likely starter for the Rays is Tyler Glasnow, the Yankee killer. The Yankees did not fare well against him last season, and so far this year, his ERA is .046. He typically throws a 100 mph fastball and a knee-buckling curveball, and that’s not the end of his pitching arsenal. If it is Glasnow, the Yankees will have their hands full, especially if Montgomery is not at his best.

The Saturday matinee will be at 1:05 pm and will be broadcast on Bally Sports Sun in Florida and the New York area on the YES Network. The game will also be on MLBN out of market.

Game three Sunday:

Sunday will be the best chance for a New York Yankee win. Ace Gerrit Cole will be on the mound. He will face another yet-to-be-announced Rays starter. Although not official, it will probably be Ryan Yarbrough who will give the Yankees a totally different look. Yarbrough is a junk baller whose fastball might reach 88 miles per hour. However, he is a premium soft contact pitcher.

Gerrit Cole has been near brilliant in his three starts. He is 2-0 with an ERA of 1.47. Cole is also the only Yankee pitcher that has been friendly to the bullpen by pitching over an average of six innings in his three starts.

The 1:05 pm Sunday game will be televised in Florida on Bally Sports Sun in the New York area on WPIX and in CT on CW20. The game will also be free to Amazon Prime members in CT, NY, NJ, and eastern PA.

Series predictions:

Today’s game between a Yankee opener and the Ray’s Wacha, it’s a toss-up who might win the contest. On Saturday, the Yankee’s hitting better be alive, or they will have no chance against Glasnow. With Cole on the mound on Sunday, the Yankees will have their best of a win. Although the Yankees would like to sweep the Rays, they will likely be thrilled to win 2 out of 3.

All pitchers are probable. EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam