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New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Clarke Schmidt vs. Zach Eflin

Schmidt looks to make it two straight quality outings, but against a much more formidable lineup.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The lineups have been released and we are less than an hour away from Clarke Schmidt searching for a Mother’s Day win — and his second of the season — against Zach Eflin and the Tampa Bay Rays in the rubber match of this intradivision rivalry.

Schmidt has allowed at least two runs in each of his starts this year, with Tuesday’s outing in Oakland marking his first win of the season and his first time successfully completing six innings in seven attempts. He used his sinker nearly 40 percent of the time in that outing, a season-high. It’s a continuation of the trend we’ve seen in his last few starts of returning to the pitch as his primary fastball and reducing his much-ballyhooed cutter to a supporting role in favor of more sinkers, curveballs, and sweepers—the latter two of which are unquestionably his most effective pitches.

At the end of the day, however, Schmidt’s effectiveness is probably going to hinge on his command of those pitches, rather than their specific mix. We’ve already covered here how Schmidt has seemingly lost all feel for fastball location since developing the cutter, and against a lineup like the Rays, he’s probably not going to make it through six innings or be able to limit the damage to two runs if he has another pitch chart like this today:

Throwing strikes is good, but if you’re going to just load up the strike zone with fastballs, you’d better hope you’re playing a team like the A’s instead of the Rays.

On the offensive end, New York is trying something new today, as a virtually identical heart-of-the-order from yesterday receives some slight adjustments, with the resurgent Jake Bauers manning the leadoff spot, Willie Calhoun finding his way back into the DH role, Jose Trevino back in his starting role, and Oswaldo Cabrera giving Gleyber Torres a rare day off at the keystone. Say what you want about the rest of Bauers’ skillset, but he does have an excellent 12-pervent walk rate throughout his pro career, and in spite of his overall struggles, Calhoun’s short stature and steep uphill swing should make for a good matchup against Zach Eflin’s sinker-and-curveball heavy mix.

Eflin, to this point, has made the Rays look smart (who could have anticipated that?) for giving him a franchise-record (lol) deal for a free agent pitcher, having turned around six solid starts of 2.91 ERA ball to this point. He’s walked just four in 34 innings while striking out 35, though he did get somewhat roughed up for seven hits (and four runs) over six frames against Baltimore earlier in the week. This will be just Eflin’s third career start against the Yankees, having combined for 11 scoreless innings across two prior starts in 2018 and 2020 during his Phillies tenure. He’ll be seeing mostly fresh faces today, as NL veterans Anthony Rizzo (3-for-16) and DJ LeMahieu (2-for-7) are the only members of the starting lineup to have seen him before today.

How to watch:

Location: Yankee Stadium — Bronx, NY

First pitch: 1:35 pm EDT

TV broadcast: YES, Bally Sports Sun

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280

Online stream:

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