7:05 PM EST – Line: Yankees -144, Over/Under: 9.5
Division showdown is on tap from Gotham City, as the New York Yankees pay host to the Tampa Bay Rays in the second installment of a key Three-Game Series from Yankee Stadium in New York, New York. Trailing their opponent tonight by just a Half-Game in the American League East, this Three-Game Series is of great importance to the Rays (43-28, 2nd in AL East), who look to make the most out of their counterpart’s injury problems. After winning Ninety Games a year ago and still missing out on the Playoffs for a fifth consecutive term, Tampa Bay hopes for a better fate this time around. Kevin Cash’s charges have been one of the most consistent clubs this season, getting off to a brilliant 14-4 start , but most recently have dropped four of their past six outings. Balance has been key on both sides of the ball, with the Offense ranking towards the top of the American League in a number of categories, placing no worse than Fifth in Hits (646), Batting Average (.262), On-Base Percentage (.363), and Stolen Bases (42). With just one member of the Lineup over the age of Thirty, the Rays have quite the foundation of young talent, led by the likes of Brandon Lowe (.293 BA, 68 H, 36 R, 15 2B, 15 HR, 44 RBI, 17 BB, 85 K), the Sophomore Second Baseman who looks to be a shoe-in for an All-Star Selection. Lowe has been excellent in his first full season as a regular contributor, leading Tampa in a number of areas, including Runs Scored (36), Doubles (15), Home Runs (15), and RBIs (44). With that said, as solid as the Lineup has been thus far, the clear strength of this team has been the Rotation, which by and large has been one of the very best in the Majors. Cash’s stable of arms ranks tops in the American League in Team ERA (3.02), Earned Runs (216), and Home Runs (62), all the while logging the third-most Strikeouts (677) and fourth-fewest Walks (207). Heading to the mound tonight for Cash will be Ryan Yarbrough (5-3, 5.59 ERA, 48.1 IP, 43 H, 30 ER, 6 HR, 9 BB, 34 K, 1.076 WHIP), their young Lefthander, who is looking to become a more regular part of the starting Rotation. Tampa has been without Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 1.86 ERA, 48.1 IP, 35 H, 10 ER, 3 HR, 9 BB, 55 K, 0.910 WHIP) for a month now due to a strained Right Forearm, and isn’t expected to return to action until the middle of July, creating an opportunity for the 27-Year old, who last season managed to win Sixteen Games despite only making Six Starts. Now in 2019, he’s seen much more starting action, though that hasn’t necessarily translated into success. Despite exhibiting far better control in his Sophomore Campaign in the Majors, cutting his Walks per Nine Innings from 3.1 to 1.7, Yarbrough has since seen his ERA spike from 3.91 a year ago to a disappointing 5.59. When we last him, the Lefty found himself on the wrong side of 3-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, allowing all Five Earned Runs on as many Hits, including a pair of Home Runs over the course of 6.0 Innings, totaling Four Strikeouts and One Walk.
Meanwhile, maintaining their slim lead over the Rays in the American League East, the Yankees (43-27, 1st in AL East) have been a rather remarkable story in 2019 when you consider the litany of injuries that they’ve managed to sustain. For most clubs, this would be a bonafide crisis, but New York has thrived nonetheless, leaving many to wonder how potent they’ll be if they ever do manage to return to full strength. Let’s take a moment to run down the list of names that are currently occupying a spot in the Disabled List shall we? First and foremost, prolific sluggers such as Aaron Judge (.288 BA, 21 H, 13 R, 2 2B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 14 BB, 26 K) and Giancarlo Stanton (.250 BA, 2 H, 1 R, 7 BB, 4 K) have missed a wealth of action with respective ailments, while the likes of Didi Gregorious (.385 BA, 10 H, 4 R 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K) and Luis Severino have also been out of action for quite a while. Judge and Stanton alone accounted for a combined Sixty-Five Home Runs alone in 2018. Now in most cases, if you were to remove that kind of power from a Lineup, most teams would run the risk of becoming toothless, but not Aaron Boone’s charges, who have nonetheless slugged their way to 111 Homers, ranking Fourth Overall in the American League. Five different players have pelted Eleven or more Home Runs, led by Gary Sanchez (.260 BA, 50 H, 32 R, 5 2B, 20 HR, 43 RBI, 19 BB, 56 K), the All-Star Catcher who has attracted serious MVP attention thus far. And if that wasn’t enough, the rich continue to get richer, as New York acquired Edwin Encarnacion (.241 BA, 58 H, 48 R, 7 2B, 21 HR, 49 RBI, 41 BB, 55 K) in a deal with the Seattle Mariners, adding the Major League Leader in Home Runs. Encarnacion is expected to make his debut in pinstripes at some point in this Series. From the mound, the Yankees have been solid if unspectacular, with a Starting Rotation that has benefitted greatly from a wealth of Run Support, coupled with one of the better Bullpens in the Majors. Getting the Start tonight is J.A. Happ (6-3, 4.66 ERA, 75.1 IP, 71 H, 39 ER, 17 HR, 19 BB, 61 K, 1.195 WHIP), who was acquired midway through 2018 in an attempt to add a sorely-needed veteran presence. The veteran Journeyman is now on his sixth club, and with Severino unlikely to return until the latter stages of the campaign, has become an invaluable member of the starting quintet. The 36-Year Old went a perfect 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA after arriving in New York last year, but has thus far seen his ERA balloon to 4.66, while serving up a whopping Seventeen Home Runs already. When we last saw Happ, he had broken a streak of six consecutive starts without a Loss, making his exit after just Five Innings in a 4-5 defeat tot he Chicago White Sox. It was clear that he didn’t have great control of the ball, as he relinquished Four Earned Runs on Five Hits, issuing Four Walks in comparison to a pair of Strikeouts, while getting tagged for a Home Run for sixth straight Start. In that period of time, Happ has served up Eight Home Runs.