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New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Series Preview

The Yankees will face off against the AL East-leading Rays for the first time this season over the next couple days.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

While they came away with a series win against the Guardians, the series wasn’t the most impressive showing from the Yankees. They scored just 10 runs total across the three games, and the one loss they did take came in one of the most frustrating ways possible. In general, things have not been the most positive in Yankees-land, but they’re going to need to figure something out as they head down to the Trop this weekend.

Starting tonight, the Yankees will be in Florida for a three-game set against the Rays. Tampa Bay comes into this series with a MLB-best record of 26-6, with a nine-game edge over the Yankees in the standings. It’s going to be a tough couple games as the Yankees look to battle their way back into a better position.

Friday: Jhony Brito vs. Yonny Chirinos (6:40 pm ET)

Brito’s struggles after making a good early impression are well documented. He showed some solid signs in his most recent outing, allowing just two runs on four hits against the Rangers. It’s just that happened to be a day where that was too many runs with the way the offense was hitting. Considering their record, Tampa Bay will likely be his toughest test so far, and it’s understandable to be a bit skeptical of the type of performance he’ll put in.

Chirinos has been a multi-inning reliever/guy following an opener for the Rays so far this year, but this will be the first time he’ll get the ball to start a game in 2023. In his bullpen role, he’s been quite impressive, with a sub-1.00 ERA and allowing opposing hitters to just a .372 OPS. This will be the first time the Yankees have faced Chirinos since 2019 as he’s missed a lot of time over the last couple seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Saturday: Domingo Germán vs. Drew Rasmussen (4:10 pm ET)

Nestor Cortes is set to miss this series while he deals with strep throat, but thanks to the off day on Thursday, the Yankees are able to bring some pitchers back a game early while keeping them on normal rest, starting with Germán on Saturday.

Germán, his performance, and the decision that Aaron Boone made regarding it were a big topic of conversation earlier this week. In Monday’s series opener against the Guardians, Germán was dominant for 8.1 innings, and was on the verge of throwing a complete game shutout. However after allowing a one-out hit, Boone went to Clay Holmes with the tying run at the plate, and things got dumb from there. Despite that effort, Germán’s numbers on the whole this season are still a bit below average, but when he’s been at his best this year, he’s been very good.

To start his 2023 season, Rasmussen threw 13 innings of scoreless baseball, albeit against the Nationals and Athletics. Since then, he’s allowed 13 runs in 19 innings, including five each to the good offenses of the Blue Jays and Astros.

Sunday: Gerrit Cole vs. TBD (1:40 pm ET)

In the finale, the Yankees will give the ball to Cole also a game early, but on normal rest. We are obviously still very early in the season, but it’s hard not to call him the early leader in the AL Cy Young race. He allowed two runs in six innings in his last outing against Cleveland, and you could argue that it was his worst start of the season so far.

At time of writing, the Rays have not announced their plans for Sunday. If you work backwards from who’s started their recent games, this would probably be another opener situation, but we’ll see.