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New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Series preview

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The Yankees shuffle their rotation ahead of a series with the Rays.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays sure have been pesky this season. You’d think that the Yankees would be able to beat up on a team lacking a real rotation and that has been hovering around the .500 mark, but the season series is tied 6-6. The two teams will kick off a three-game set tonight, and it will be the last time the Rays visit New York this year. One trip left to St. Petersburg remains for the Yankees in September. Here’s a look at the probable pitching matchups for this series.

Game one: J.A. Happ vs. Hunter Wood

This will only be Happ’s third start in pinstripes, but he has looked good so far! After holding the Royals to just one run during his Yankees debut, the southpaw racked up nine strikeouts against the Rangers. He somehow only faced the Rays twice during his time with the Blue Jays this year, and held them to three runs over 10.2 innings.

Wood will open this game for Tampa. The right-hander has bounced around between opening games, and coming out of the bullpen where needed, much like every other Rays pitcher. He posted a 3.91 ERA with 10.66 K/9 and 4.62 BB/9 across 25.1 innings pitched this season. Last month, he gave up one run over two innings of work against the Yankees in Florida.

Game two: Luis Cessa vs. TBD

In case you missed it, the Yankees placed CC Sabathia on the disabled list with right knee inflammation. Luis Cessa will take his spot in the rotation. They’ve decided to slot him in a bit earlier than Sabathia’s next scheduled start, though. Having Cessa start Wednesday gives everyone else extra rest. He owns a 4.50 ERA (4.49 FIP) over 25 innings this season. During his last appearance (out of the bullpen), he was tagged for five runs off seven hits by the Red Sox.

One of the annoying things about the Rays not having a real rotation is that they wait until the absolute last minute to announce who will be starting their games. Blake Snell will likely start this game, or the series finale. He was perfect through five innings against the Blue Jays over the weekend, but had to exit the game due to pitch count. His only bad starts this season have been against the Yankees, though. He should keep that going.

Game three: Masahiro Tanaka vs. TBD

After pitching well since coming off of the disabled list in July, Tanaka encountered a road bump last weekend. It’s no secret that he is prone to giving up home runs, but the Rangers clobbered three long balls off of him. However, his best outing of the season came just a few weeks ago when he tossed a complete game shutout versus Tampa Bay. Here’s hoping he bounces back this week.