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Yankees vs. Rays: Series Preview

The biggest series of the year so far is set to begin at..the Trop.

Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

The Yankees have somehow managed to hang around near the top of the AL East standings, despite their roster being a shell of what it looked like on Opening Day. Now, it’s time to put this new-look lineup to the test.

The Bombers travel south to take on the mighty Rays (that still feels SO weird to say), as the AL East leaders have had the best record in baseball since last summer. They’ll have their top arms set up for this weekend, so the Yankees bats will have to be on top of their game.

Here are those pitching matchups for the weekend slate:

Game one: Domingo German vs. Tyler Glasnow

We get an unexpected dandy in the series opener, as two young studs in German and Glasnow will duke it out in a matchup that boasts two right-handers with fabulous strikeout stuff.

Glasnow has made the Chris Archer trade look like an absolute steal for the Rays, as the 25-year-old enters this start with a 1.47 ERA and a FIP of just 2.40. His walk percentage is also down seven percent from last year, as he has become one of the better pitchers in the league so far. Glasnow has limited experience against New York (just 17 career at-bats), and the only Yankee not injured that has a hit against him is Austin Romine, who is 1-for-2.

German enters with an impressive season himself so far, having allowed just one run against the hot-hitting Twins on Sunday in his last start. German holds a 2.35 ERA and has 39 strikeouts in 38.1 innings. He’s allowed seven hits in 25 at-bats against the Rays in his short career, though three of those came off the bat of Matt Duffy, who is still injured.

Game two: CC Sabathia vs. TBD

It’s unclear who will open this game for the Rays, but Yonny Chirinos will likely handle the bulk of the relief once the unrevealed opener is done for the day. Chirinos has a 3.52 ERA on the season and allowed just three runs over 10.2 innings against the Yankees last season. The Bombers have just eight hits in 30 at-bats against the right-hander, though Luke Voit is 2-for-2.

Sabathia didn’t have his best stuff in his last start against the Mariners, allowing a pair of home runs but holding the M’s to three runs over five innings in a 7-3 win. Sabathia has a respectable 3.20 ERA on the season, and has held the current Rays roster to a .796 OPS over his career, with his two biggest tormentors being Mike Zunino (5-for 11 with a home run) and Kevin Kiermaier (6-for-15 with two home runs), though Zunino has been dealing with quad tightness and may not be a factor.

Game three: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Blake Snell

The Rays close the series with one of the best arms in the game in Snell, who has given the Yanks their share of problems at the plate. The Bombers are slugging just .411 against the southpaw, with almost all of their production coming from Gary Sanchez, who is 4-for-11 with three dingers against Snell. He enters this start with a 3.36 FIP.

Tanaka has not been as lucky against the Rays, who hold an .888 OPS against the right-hander. Despite Tanaka’s home run liabilities, he has only allowed three long balls to members of the current Rays roster, including one to Kiermaier, Zunino and Tommy Pham. Tanaka has allowed a homer in each of his last six starts and holds a 3.77 ERA and a 4.31 FIP.