It’s MLB Trade Deadline day, usually an occasion for anticipation and excitement, so leave it to this year’s Yankees to ruin even this moment of distraction from their slog of a season. The decision-makers are happy to stagnate in mediocrity, unwilling to make meaningful additions to their floundering roster (sorry, Keynan Middleton) nor subtractions that could help future seasons. Several of their players have sounded apprehensive about the team’s direction and accompanying inaction on the market, but there’s no time to dwell on these thoughts as there’s still a baseball game to be played.
Carlos Rodón looked much better in his last start against the Mets — 5.2 innings giving up a run on four hits and three walks against four strikeouts — than in his first three. Noah recently analyzed the southpaw’s start to the season, noting an uptick in fastball usage with the pitch carrying velocity deeper into the outing as contributors to the successful outing against the crosstown rivals. He’ll still need to sharpen his slider command against a Rays team that crushes left-handed pitching. In four starts, Rodón has a 5.75 ERA (75 ERA+), 6.27 FIP, and 15 strikeouts in 20.1 innings.
Zach Eflin has remarkably been the Rays’ most valuable starting pitcher, ahead of the likes of staff ace Shane McClanahan and only 0.1 wins behind Gerrit Cole for eighth on the fWAR leaderboard. His 3.7 percent walk rate is second-lowest among qualified pitchers and he’s one of 14 qualified starters with a K-BB% in excess of 20 percent. In his previous start against the Yankees, he gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings with both Anthony Rizzo and Oswaldo Cabrera going yard. In 20 starts, Eflin is 11-6 with a 3.64 ERA (113 ERA+), 3.00 FIP, and 116 strikeouts in 116.1 innings.
The Yankees make three changes to the lineup that squeaked across just one run in the series opener. Isiah Kiner-Falefa comes in to play left field, moving Jake Bauers to right and Giancarlo Stanton to the bench. Harrison Bader was absent from the lineup as rumors swirled over his future, though Aaron Boone said he was just giving his center fielder a day off, with Billy McKinney taking his spot. Finally, Kyle Higashioka takes over catching duties from Ben Rortvedt.
Despite losing 16 games in July, the Rays lineup still has the third-highest wRC+ against lefties in baseball. They boast six players with double-digit home runs so Rodón is under added pressure to limit mistakes. Case in point: Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, Isaac Paredes and Josh Lowe all went yard yesterday and the former three return to the lineup tonight.
How to watch
Location: Yankee Stadium — Bronx, NY
First pitch: 7:05 pm ET
TV broadcast: TBS — National (out-of-market) / YES – NYY / Bally Sports Sun — TB
Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9, WADO 1280
Online stream: MLB.tv