Rays @ Yankees Series PreviewPosted: July 7, 2011
The Yankees are coming off their first series loss since that awful sweep at the hands of the Red Sox about a month ago. They now come home for one last series before the All-Star break. They play a four game set with the Tampa Bay Rays that starts tonight and goes through Sunday.
The Rays come to the Bronx only four games out of the American League East (and the Yankees) and are the third team in the division that has a shot of making a playoff run. They have been playing about .500 ball of late recently losing two of three to the Twins and Reds and beating the Cardinals two out of three.
The Rays are an okay team offensively as they rank in the bottom five in the American League batting average, on-base percentage, K%, and are in the middle of the pack in homers, slugging percentage, and wRC+. They do excel in some categories as they rank in the top five in ISO, stolen bases, and BB%. The guys to look out for in this lineup are Casey Kotchman, Matt Joyce, and Johnny Damon, who are all having big years and of course Evan Longoria who is always dangerous. Here’s a projected lineup:
- Johnny Damon, DH
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Evan Longoria, 3B
- Matt Joyce, RF
- BJ Upton, CF
- Casey Kotchman, 1B
- John Jaso, C
- Sam Fuld, LF
- Elliot Johnson, SS
The one thing that has kept this team alive is their starting pitching. They are all young and they are all very good and have carried this team through the first half of the season. They are top five in ERA, strikeouts per nine innings, walks per nine, and innings pitched in the American League. Here are the projected pitching match-ups:
Jeff Niemann (3-4, 5.05 ERA) vs. Bartolo Colon (6-3, 2.88 ERA)
Jeremy Hellickson (8-7, 3.21 ERA) vs. Freddy Garcia (7-6, 3.13 ERA)
David Price (8-7, 3.56 ERA) vs. AJ Burnett (8-7, 4.12 ERA)
James Shields (8-6, 2.47 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (12-4, 2.90 ERA)
The Tampa bullpen was the one question mark for them heading into the season, but it has held up so far pitching to a 3.65 ERA. They only strike out around six per nine innings and they almost walk four per nine which means the Bombers need to do what they do best and that is work counts, get the starter’s pitch count up and get into the pen.
The one thing to look out for in this series is of course Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit as he is three away with four games in the Bronx. I really hope he does it. Anyway, the first game starts tonight at sevenish. Let’s hope for at least three wins in this weekend.