7:00 PM EST, ESPN – Line: Yankees -156, Over/Under: 10
Division Rivals clash tonight in the Bronx, as the New York Yankees play host to the Tampa Bay Rays in the third entry of a Four-Game Series from Yankee Stadium. After narrowly missing out on the Playoffs last season, the young Rays (55-40, 2nd in AL East) have spent the first half of the campaign not coming of age, but emerging as a true contender in the American League. However, injuries have come into play Tampa Bay, who as a result have fallen back to the pack a bit in the Standings; All-Star Second Baseman, Brandon Lowe (.276 BA, 76 G, 77 H, 40 R, 17 2B, 16 HR, 49 RBI, 22 BB, 104 K) was the latest to hit the Disabled List, suffering a shin injury that has kept him out since the All-Star Break. Currently, this team is in possession of the first Wild Card in the American League, though still trails the Yankees by Six Games in the Division. If Cash’s charges do indeed finally make their return tot he Postseason, it will be on the backs, or rather the arms, of their Pitching Staff, which has been the most formidable in the American League in 2019. In a season in which the headlines have been commanded by the Long Ball, it’s refreshing to see a club win with Pitching. Tampa Bay ranks First in the league in a slew of categories, including Team ERA (3.30), Earned Runs (317), and Home Runs Allowed (92), along with Third in Strikeouts (920). Charlie Morton (11-2, 2.35 ERA, 20 GS, 118.2 IP, 86 H, 31 ER, 9 HR, 37 BB, 148 K, 1.037 WHIP) and Blake Snell (5-7, 4.70 ERA, 18 GS, 90.0 IP, 85 H, 47 ER, 13 HR, 31 BB, 122 K, 1.289 WHIP) have been bonafide Strikeout Machines, averaging 11.2 and 12.2 Strikeouts per Nine Innings respectively, while Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 1.86 ERA, 8 GS, 48.1 IP, 35 H, 10 ER, 3 HR, 9 BB, 55 K, 0.910 WHIP), who may just be the best of the bunch, has been sidelined with a Right Forearm Strain for Two Months and is expected to make his return to the Rotation in a few weeks. Taking the mound tonight for the Rays will be Yonny Chirinos (8-4, 3.11 ERA, 13 GS, 107.0 IP, 81 H, 37 ER, 16 HR, 22 BB, 89 K, 0.963 WHIP), yet another member of this impressive, young Pitching Staff. The Venezuelan has emerged as a fixture of the Rotation, in this, his first season as a regular Starter, ranking Second in the American League in WHIP (0.963) and Sixth in ERA (3.11). When we last saw him, Chirinos finally snapped a five-game winless streak, as Tampa Bay absolutely throttled the meager Baltimore Orioles in a 16-4 victory last Friday Night. The Righthander was stellar from the jump, yielding just Two Earned Runs on Four Hits with Eight Strikeouts and Zero Walks over the course of Seven Innings. It was the 25-Year old’s second consecutive Quality Start, with the other coincidentally coming against tonight’s opponent, the Yankees, whom despite falling in defeat 4-8, saw him once again strut his stuff; Chirinos relinquished Three Earned Runs on Five Hits, with Five Strikeouts and a Walk over Seven Innings. Thus far, he’s faced New York on four occasions, two of which were Starts, posting a 1-1 Record with a solid 3.32 ERA, with a 0.969 WHIP, totaling Fifteen Strikeouts and just Three Walks. Of course, the issue is that he’s been tagged for Sixteen Home Runs thus far, with a quarter of that figure coming against his AL East Rivals (4), including three in his last two meetings.
Meanwhile, even though they’ve also dealt with a wealth of injuries, few teams in the Majors have been hotter of late than the Yankees (59-32, 1st in AL East), who have heading into this Series with the Rays have won Eighteen of their last Twenty-Three Games. As a result, Aaron Boone’s charges have ascended to First Place in the American League, 1.5 Games ahead of the Twins and Astros in the Standings. Even without the thunderous bats of Aaron Judge (.302 BA, 36 G, 39 H, 24 R, 3 2B, 9 HR, 21 RBI, 25 BB, 45 K) and Giancarlo Stanton (.290 BA, 9 G, 9 H, 4 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 7 BB, 13 K), who last season combined for Sixty-Five Home Runs last season only to miss a total of 135 Games due to an assortment of injuries, New York has proven to be as threatening as ever from the Plate, slamming 150 Homers, third-most in the American League. All-Star Catcher, Gary Sanchez (.243 BA, 70 G, 65 H, 40 R, 8 2B, 24 HR, 57 RBI, 24 BB, 82 K) has been fantastic in their absence, and is on pace to shatter his personal bests in both Home Runs (24) and Runs Batted In (57), while the likes of Gleyber Torres (.292 BA, 84 G, 91 H, 57 R, 16 2B, 19 HR, 50 RBI, 34 BB, 79 K), Luke Voit (.280 BA, 80 G, 84 H, 54 R, 14 2B, 17 HR, 50 RBI, 51 BB, 94 K), and Brett Gardner (.253 BA, 87 G, 75 H, 55 R, 12 2B, 15 HR, 41 RBI, 33 BB, 51 K) have each had their moments in the spotlight. Speaking of spotlights, the Rotation hasn’t captured it enough in 2019, though that’s not to say that they’ve simply lived off of the generous Run Support from their teammates. For one, Domingo German (11-2, 3.40 ERA, 14 GS, 82.0 IP, 67 H, 31 ER, 13 HR, 19 Bb, 90 K, 1.049 WHIP), has been the shot in the arm that this group desperately needed, in this, his first season as a regular Starter in pinstripes, particularly with the team’s ace, Luis Severino, likely to miss the entirety of the term with Rotator Cuff Strain in his Throwing Shoulder. The young Dominican Republic International ranks second in the American League in Wins (11), and ranks First among New York’s Starters in ERA (3.40), WHIP (1.049), Hits per Nine Innings (7.4), and Strikeout/Walk Ratio (4.74). When we last saw him, the 26-Year Old Righthander was busy shutting out the Toronto Blue Jays, relinquishing just Three Hits over Six Innings, totaling Seven strikeouts and Zero Walks in the 3-0 Victory last Friday. In his lone Start against the Rays this season, a 4-3 Win back on May 10th, German was a bit of a mixed bag, serving up Five Hits, including a pair of Home Runs, with Five Strikeouts and Two Walks before being pulled after Five Innings of labor. Fortunately, Boone has the luxury pulling his Starters earlier than most, due to the presence of arguably the top Bullpen in the Majors, led by All-Star Closer Aroldis Chapman (2-1, 1.77 ERA, 38 G, 25 SV, 35.2 IP, 26 H, 7 ER, 1 HR, 12 BB, 51 K, 1.065 WHIP), who leads the American League with a whopping Twenty-Five Saves.