On the afternoon of Sunday, May 23rd, the Yankees had just won their sixth game in a row and were a half-game out of first place. Since then, they’ve lost six of their last seven games and four in a row. They currently stand in third place in the American League East, with a shot at fourth by evening’s end, five and a half games out of first place. The club in first place is the team they’ll take the field against tonight, the Tampa Bay Rays, winners of 16 of their last 17 games and owners of the best winning percentage in MLB.
I’ve always felt that one can’t spread too much sunshine, so let me add that the Rays’ best pitcher will be starting for them tonight as well.
Domingo Germán gets the assignment of trying to turn things around for the Yankees. After a sluggish start to 2021, Germán has quietly pitched very well over the past five weeks. In his last seven starts since April 22nd, he’s gone between five and seven innings, and thrown between 80 and 99 pitches in each start. In 43 innings over that stretch, he’s allowed less than one baserunner per inning while striking out 40 against only 8 walks.
Germán will be facing a Tampa Bay lineup that’s been on a tear of late, averaging seven runs per game over their current 16-1 stretch. After a so-so start, the Tampa hitters have responded in a big way leading the AL in walks and ranking fourth in total bases. For those of you scoring at home, the ability to get on base combined with an ability to advance runners with extra-base hits makes a formidable opponent for opposing pitchers. If there is a weakness that the Yankees can watch for, it’s Tampa’s proclivity for getting thrown out attempting to steal bases. They’re third in the AL in total stolen bases but have the worst success rate (.695) by a good margin of any of the teams in the top six.
As mentioned, Tampa Bay will be sending Tyler Glasnow to the mound tonight. Glasnow ranks in the top ten in the AL in innings, K%-BB%, FIP, ERA+ and opponents’ OBP. He was roughed up two starts ago against Toronto, but he rebounded five days later: 8 shutout innings, 11 strikeouts, 2 walks, and 3 hits against Kansas City.
We wouldn’t be Yankee fans if we simply walked past a dead horse, so let’s review the offense that will face Glasnow tonight. The Detroit Tigers are the only AL team to score fewer runs than the Yankees this season, and the “Bronx Bombers” moniker is now only used ironically. New York ranks last in the AL in doubles, last in extra-base hit percentage, 13th in SLG, and 11th in total bases. They do, however, lead the league in walks and walk percentage, which surely won’t be the case much longer if the lack of power continues.
Let’s not solely focus on the lack of power, however: The Yankees are still the worst baserunning team in baseball with a comfortable lead in the most runners thrown out on the bases standings, and are also the league’s best at grounding into double plays.
The Yankees have decided that the best manner in which to kickstart the offense is to sit Giancarlo Stanton tonight. He’s looked cold since returning from injury and make what you will of small sample sizes, but Stanton has faced Glasnow 11 times and has reached base 5 with 3 home runs — the only available Yankee who’s had success against him. Aaron Judge will be the DH while Clint Frazier and Miguel Andújar will man the corner outfield spots and Mike Ford gets the nod at first base.
How to watch:
Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
First pitch: 7:05 pm ET
TV Broadcast: YES Network, Bally Sports Sun
Radio Broadcast: WFAN 101.9/660, WADO 1280, 95.3 WDAE
Online stream: MLB.tv