The New York Yankees are preparing for a crucial series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday evening. The Yankees’ ace, Gerrit Cole, with a 2.64 ERA, will take the mound, pitted against Tampa’s successful left-handed starter, Shane McClanahan, who has secured 11 wins this season with a 3.00 ERA.
Lineup Announcement: Jake Bauers Replaces Anthony Rizzo
However, the pre-game intrigue doesn’t stop at the pitcher’s duel. The Yankees’ pre-game lineup announcement included an interesting change: Jake Bauers will take over first base duties, giving veteran Anthony Rizzo a well-deserved day off. This move comes as Rizzo, at 33 years old, is grappling with a challenging season.
Rizzo is currently posting a .244 batting average with a .328 OBP, including 12 home runs and 41 RBIs. His 99 wRC+ marks the lowest point of his career, with a disappointing .167 average and a .235 OBP in July alone.
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Jake Bauers: A Strong Hitter Despite Lefty Struggles
In contrast, the 27-year-old Bauers has emerged as one of the Yankees’ most consistent hitters this year, despite his stats being relatively modest. He holds a .234 batting average with a .314 OBP, including nine home runs, 22 RBIs, a 31.4% strikeout rate, a 10.9% walk rate, and a 121 wRC+.
However, this decision to put Bauers in the lineup against the Rays raises eyebrows, considering his poor performance against left-handed pitchers. Over 17 at-bats this season, he’s recorded a low .176 average with a .222 OBP. Conversely, Rizzo has performed well against left-handed pitchers, boasting a .333 average with a .402 OBP over 78 at-bats.
Balancing Rest and Performance: A Delicate Game
Although giving Rizzo some rest is crucial, the choice of this game against the Rays for his off-day seems questionable. In other lineup news, Aaron Judge will continue his role as the team’s designated hitter due to lingering toe soreness after playing two consecutive games.
The Playoff Challenge: Yankees’ Current Standing
As it stands, the Yankees are 3.5 games behind in the Wild Card race. With the top-tier teams bolstering their rosters at the trade deadline, the Yankees’ chances of securing a playoff spot this season appear increasingly tenuous.