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New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Series Preview

It’s time for another crucial series in the AL East race.

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

While the series finale didn’t go great, the Yankees picked up some important wins against the Twins, allowing them to keep their head above water in the American League East race against the Rays. That was especially crucial because now, just like last weekend, the Yankees are set to take on that Tampa Bay team in what will be a vital three-game series. This will be the last time that the two ballclubs will square off in the 2022 regular season.

The Rays’ offense is likely to get a boost as Wander Franco is expected to rejoin the lineup this weekend. Meanwhile, the Yankee’ starting nine has taken another recent blow, as yesterday, DJ LeMahieu joined several other important teammates on the injured list.

Before the action kicks off tonight, let’s take a look at the pitching matchups we’re expecting to see this weekend.

Friday: Frankie Montas vs. Drew Rasmussen (7:05 PM ET)

Montas’ most recent start came against this very Rays team and he put in probably his best start as a Yankee so far. He threw five one-hit innings, striking out seven with no walks. He didn’t end up going deep into the ballgame because of both his pitch count and the Yankees’ slim lead — they likely didn’t want to risk the third-time-through-the-order penalty. New York ended up winning that game, 2-1, and hopefully Montas has something to build on after a fairly middling start to his Yankee career.

The Yankees missed Rasmussen in last weekend’s series and he hasn’t pitched since August 31st after going on the paternity list earlier this week. When he finally does take the mound again, the Rays will be hoping he continues his impressive run from last month. In August, Rasmussen two took no-hit bids fairly deep, getting within three outs of a perfect game in one of them. Over the course of August, he put up a 1.57 ERA and a 2.29 FIP in 34.1 innings, taking home AL Pitcher of the Month honors.

Saturday: Jameson Taillon vs. Corey Kluber (1:05 PM ET)

In his last start against the Twins, Taillon was solid for four innings before a long Gary Sánchez home run doomed him to another meh outing. He has now allowed at least one home run in all of his last seven starts, and 18 in 90 innings dating back to June. That stretch doesn’t include a start against the Rays, and his most recent outing against them included eight shutout innings back on May 27th.

Kluber continued his run of impressive outings against the Yankees in an otherwise unimpressive season last Saturday. His seven shutout innings against his former team took his season ERA to 1.08 against the Yankees. Kluber’s overall season total is 4.00, but remove the Yankees’ games and it would be 4.63. He’ll be facing New York for the fifth time in 2022.

Sunday: TBD vs. TBD (1:35 PM ET)

At time of writing, neither team has officially announced who their starter will be for Sunday.

For the Yankees, this uncertainty is likely due to Tuesday night’s rainout that led to a doubleheader on Wednesday. Clarke Schmidt is still on the major league roster and is stretched out enough to at least go four-ish innings, so he seems like an obvious choice. Manager Aaron Boone alluded to the possibility, but we’ll see. His 45 pitches over 3 innings on Thursday night might end up taking him out of the equation.

Between injuries and the aforementioned rotation shuffle because of Rasmussen’s paternity list stint, the Rays don’t have a designated starter for this one either. Potential options include an opener situation, like they used last Sunday, or maybe Luis Patiño, who was called up earlier this week and would be on six days’ rest.