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New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Gerrit Cole vs. Collin McHugh

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With Gerrit Cole on the bump against his former teammate, the Yankees are in a great spot to win their fourth straight.

Houston Astros v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Tonight, Gerrit Cole takes on the Rays for the second time this year. The last time he squared off against them, in his fourth start of the season, this Tampa club dealt him his only loss of the early season, tagging him for a pair of earned runs in 6.1 innings. Despite Cole’s otherwise dominant 10-strikeout performance, the Yankee offense let him down, notching just a pair of runs through nine frames. He’ll get a chance to even out his 2021 record against the Rays today, facing an exactly average offense that’s scored the 15th-most runs in baseball.

With his high school rival on the bump, Higgy gets the start behind the dish, per usual, sending the warming bat of Gary Sanchez to the bench.

Also, Gleyber Torres will take the day off in favor of Tyler Wade, while the former waits for the results of COVID testing thanks to the recent cases among team staff.

Instead of again having to match up against the second-best starting pitcher in the AL East, Tyler Glasnow, Cole’s start lines up against the relatively unimposing Collin McHugh. Cole’s former teammate has had a rocky start to his career as a Ray after missing all of his lone season with the Red Sox due to elbow troubles. So far this year, McHugh has pitched his way to a 7.36 ERA and 1.773 WHIP in a relief role. In his one appearance against the Yankees this season, he allowed an earned run while recording just a single out. Given the fact that he averages about an inning-and-a-half per outing, it’s unlikely he makes it terribly deep into this one before the Rays’ “stable” takes over.

Since torching the Yankees in last year’s ALDS, Randy Arozarena has struggled to find his groove in the early going, taking a couple of steps backwards in terms of the launch angle and discipline improvements he displayed in last year’s postseason. His speed and constant contact have kept his .258 batting average afloat, but he’s slugging just .371 and striking out 32.4% of the time. While he’s hit the ball harder on average than 84% of the majors, he’s done so almost exclusively into the ground, totally undercutting the power production we saw last fall.

The Yankees offense clicked enough to earn the win in the series opener, but the long-awaited returns of Gio Urshela and Luke Voit didn’t yet pay dividends, as they went a combined 1-7 in yesterday’s contest. Urshela had been swinging the bat well before missing a couple of games with a knee issue, and Voit obliterated the minor league pitching he saw during his five rehab games. Batting fourth and fifth today, respectively, the Yankees would love to see Urshela and Voit get it going next to the rest of their bombing brethren.

How to watch:

Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL.

First Pitch: 7:10 pm

TV broadcast: YES, Bally Sports Sun

Radio Broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280, WDAE 620 AM/95.3 FM, WGES 680

Online Stream: MLB.tv

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