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Yankees vs Rays: Series Preview

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Any chance Evan Longoria could miss the team flight and be left behind?

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With a new bullpen and a red hot bat of Didi Gregorius, the Yankees are flying high after winning five of their last six, and sweeping the Reds in a mini two-game series against the Reds.

The Yanks remain home for a four game set in what will be a huge series against the Rays, who have stumbled in the past week but are still nipping at the Yankees’ heels in the division and Wild Card race.

Here are your pitching matchups:

Game One: Chris Archer vs CC Sabathia

The Rays will open the series with their best in Archer. After a rocky start against the Angels in which he surrendered five walks, Archer rebounded last week against the Rangers with one of his best starts of the season, allowing one run on four hits through seven innings while striking out 11. He comes into the start with a 3.77 ERA.

He has been riding the bench of late, but it will be hard to keep Jacoby Ellsbury out of the lineup for this game given the fact that he absolutely owns Archer. He has a .500 batting average and a 1.245 OPS in 40 career at-bats against the righty.

Sabathia didn’t have his best stuff in his last start against Seattle, but he was able to grind through five innings and surrender just one run. He will look to continue his solid season as he enters the start with a 3.44 ERA. Unsurprisingly. he will have to look out for Yankee killer Evan Longoria, who has a 1.322 OPS in 74 career at-bats against Sabathia.

Game Two: Jake Odorizzi vs Masahiro Tanaka

Odorizzi enjoyed a strong start to the season but went through a very tough June and is still looking to find his early season form. He was rocked for seven runs against the Red Sox earlier in the month and only lasted four innings in his last start against the Rangers. However, he has had success in his career against this Yankees team, who hold a career .733 OPS and .239 batting average against the righty.

Meanwhile, Tanaka will look to keep the ball in the park against a Rays team that can hit home runs. Longoria, Corey Dickerson and Brad Miller have all taken Tanaka deep three times each in their careers. Tanaka allowed multiple home runs for the eighth time this season against the Mariners in his last start as he continues to struggle and we continue to pull our hair out. If the Yankees are to stay in this game, Tanaka will have to keep the ball on the ground.

Game Three: Blake Snell vs Caleb Smith

Snell comes into his start still searching for his first win on the season. He had his best start of the season on Sunday against the Orioles, going a career-high seven plus innings while allowing three runs. Snell rarely goes deep into games, as 19 of his 31 career starts lasted five or fewer innings. Still, like Odorizzi, he has good numbers against this current Yankee lineup. The Bombers have a .210 batting average and .558 OPS against the lefty, with the only home run coming off the bat of Gary Sanchez.

Smith gets the nod for the Yanks in game three after going 3 23 innings against the Mariners in his first career start. Smith looked solid through the first couple innings but faltered in the fourth. This will be his first action against the Rays.

Game Four: Jacob Faria vs Jordan Montgomery

The 23-year-old Faria has been huge for the Rays since arriving to the big leagues in early June. In nine career starts, the righty boasts an ERA of 2.67, and averages almost eight strikeouts per nine innings. The Yankees haven’t faced Faria yet except Todd Frazier, who is 0-2 with a strikeout in two career at-bats. Faria does give up a decent amount of fly balls, including 15 in his last start, so we’ll see if the Bombers can live up to their name in the series finale and drive some out of the park.

Montgomery, the rotation’s most pleasant surprise, was fantastic in his last start against the Reds, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning and exiting after allowing just one run on two hits in a Yankee win. Montgomery’s only start against the Rays came in the first start of his career back in April, when he allowed two earned runs over 4 23 innings while striking out seven.

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