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New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Series Preview

Breaking down the starting pitching matchups of the upcoming three-game series against the Rays

Seattle Mariners v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Another day, another series loss for the Yankees. They’re now losers of ten of their last 13 and have scored three or fewer runs in eight of their last ten. They’ll have to reverse this trend in a hurry and will look to do so in the next three games against the Rays.

Monday: Gerrit Cole vs. Jalen Beeks, 7:05 P.M. EDT

Gerrit Cole gets the series opener looking to set the tone for the rest of the staff. The Yankees’ ace has been nails against the Rays this year, allowing just two runs across three starts totaling 19.1 innings while striking out 29. Even though he’s had a few stinkers thrown in against Tampa Bay during his New York tenure, he has a penchant for fanning Rays batters in bunches with 95 punchouts in 60.1 innings across 10 starts and a 31.7 percent K-BB%. The Yankees need that high-strikeout version of Cole to show up and not the road pizza Gerrit Cole. In 23 starts, Cole is 9-4 with a 3.38 ERA (114 ERA+), 3.25 FIP, and AL-leading 178 strikeouts in 138.1 innings.

The Rays have not named a starter for the first game of the series, though this would be Ryan Yarbrough’s normal spot in the rotation. After pitching to a sub-4.00 ERA across his first three big league seasons, the soft-tossing lefty’s ERA sits north of five this season and last. He’s still got a stellar track record against the Yankees — 2.53 ERA and 0.91 WHIP and .584 OPS against in 10 starts totaling 42.2 innings — and the 30-year-old remains among the league’s elite at avoiding danger sitting in the top quartile in average exit velocity, hard hit rate, and walk rate. In 13 appearances (eight starts), Yarbrough is 0-7 has a 5.08 ERA (73 ERA+), 4.81 FIP, and 40 strikeouts in 56.2 innings.

Update: Jalen Beeks will get the ball as the opener tonight with Yarbrough likely following him as the “bulk guy.”

Tuesday: Nestor Cortes vs. Jeffrey Springs, 7:05 P.M. EDT

Nestor Cortes’ brilliant season kept on rolling with a ten-strikeout performance against the Mariners last time out. He’s given up three or fewer runs in his last five starts with only one home run allowed during that span after serving up nine long balls across the preceding six starts. He’s got the 11th-best ERA across qualified starters, thanks to an elite fastball that’s a mph faster this year and exhibits the fifth-most rise vs. average of any four-seamer in the league. He’ll hope to do better than his last start against the Rays when he gave up three home runs including a pair to Isaac Paredes. In 21 starts, Cortes is 9-3 with a 2.67 ERA (145 ERA+), 3.33 FIP, and 125 strikeouts in 118 innings.

Jeffrey Springs has been the surprise breakout performer of the Rays pitching staff this season after pitching at replacement level across his first four big league campaigns. He sits in the 97th percentile in chase rate and at or above the top quartile in walk rate, strikeout rate, whiff rate, and average exit velocity. This newfound success stems in large part from more consistent command of his four-seamer at the top of the zone and slider and changeup on the bottom corners. The Yankees faced him on May 27th, scoring two runs on five hits while striking out six times in six innings. In 23 appearances (15 starts), Springs is 4-3 with a 2.54 ERA (144 ERA+), 3.29 FIP, and 91 strikeouts in 84.1 innings.

Wednesday: Domingo Germán vs. Corey Kluber, 7:05 P.M. EDT

Domingo Germán has been the pleasant surprise of the Yankees’ second half. After a disaster debut outing giving up five runs in three innings against the Astros, Germán has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last four outings pitching to a 2.61 ERA in 20.2 innings. He’s a really curious case in that his pitches are objectively mediocre and he frequently misses spots leading to putting multiple runners on. However, he has an almost preternatural knack for throwing the perfect pitch when he needs it most, erasing baserunners by inducing a double play or striking out a batter to end the inning and leave runners on. The amount to which this ability can stick remains to be seen, but for now Germán is repaying the faith the front office showed in him when they trade Jordan Montgomery to the Cardinals on deadline day. In five starts, Germán is 1-2 with a 4.18 ERA (94 ERA+), 5.02 FIP, and 17 strikeouts in 23.2 innings.

Old friend Corey Kluber gets a third crack at his former team. He’s tormented the Yankees in the two games they’ve faced off, allowing three runs (one earned) on seven hits and one walk, going six innings in each encounter. The 36 year old veteran places in the 99th percentile in walk rate and 95th percentile in chase rate, both his best marks in the Statcast era. The patented Kluberball is as nasty as ever, responsible for just under a half of his strikeouts on the year. In. 22 starts, Kluber is 7-7 with a 4.40 ERA (84 ERA+), 3.44 FIP, and 103 strikeouts in 116.2 innings.