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New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Series Preview

The Yankees look to get something, anything going as they head down to Florida.

Cleveland Guardians v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Yankees’ general malaise continued this week as they dropped a series to the below .500 Nationals at home. The Yankees’ playoff hopes seem extremely fleeting at this point, and those two losses certainly didn’t help things. Also not helping things is the step up in competition as they’re are set to hit the road to take on the Rays this weekend.

After their insanely hot start, the Rays haven’t been quite as good recently, as they’re 51-45 since the start of June. Beyond that, there’s been a pretty major off the field issue that been a cloud over them in recent weeks. They’re still solidly in the playoff picture and definitely favorites to take this series over the Yankees.

Before things get going tonight, let’s take a look at the expected pitching matchups for this weekend.

Friday: Gerrit Cole vs. Zach Eflin (6:40 pm ET)

In the opener, Cole will get the start looking to bounce back from one of his worst starts of the season. Last Saturday, the Red Sox got him for six runs in just four innings in his shortest outing of the year so far. Back in May, Tampa Bay pinned another one of his worst outings of the season on him, and on the season, he has a 4.76 ERA against the Rays. August has not been his most dominant month, but the Yankees will need him to put in a good outing this time.

Eflin has had an up-and-down last couple months, but one of the ups came against the Yankees back on August 1st. He shut them out over six innings, allowing just three hits. The Yankees were better against him back in May, but even then, he struck out nine in six innings.

Saturday: Clarke Schmidt vs. Tyler Glasnow (4:10 pm ET)

While he was better in his most recent start, Schmidt is not far away from getting bombed by the Braves a couple weeks ago. That game has somewhat ballooned his stats after he had been pretty good since mid-May. He hasn’t faced the Rays since before that good stretch, and they blasted him the last time they faced off.

After getting a late start to the season, Glasnow has been pretty good this year. That includes seven good innings against the Yankees on July 31st. Beyond that, he has pretty good numbers against the Yankees for his career, and that includes Yankees’ teams that haven’t been as offensively challenged.

Sunday: Carlos Rodón vs. Zack Littell (1:40 pm ET)

Rodón returned from the injured list on Tuesday and put in his longest and arguably best start of the season so far. He didn’t blow away Nationals’ batters, but he allowed just one run in six innings. That being said, the Rays’ lineup should be a pretty big step up from Washington.

A former Yankee farmhand, Littell will go for Tampa Bay in the series finale. (He was traded in the ill-fated Jaime García deal in 2017, if you must know.) He’s mostly been a bullpen guy/longman in his major league career, but he’s been part of the Rays’ rotation for a couple weeks now. Starting on July 30th, he’s made five straight starts and has been pretty solid. Over 28 innings in that time, he has a 3.54 ERA and a 3.37 FIP, holding hitters to a .666 OPS.