Despite losing two of three, the Yankees very well could have swept the series against the Nationals if not for Tommy Kahnle’s single-minded mission to hand out free home runs to the Washington hitters. At least some members of the offense showed signs of life, albeit against one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball. They’ll face a much sterner test tonight at the Trop.
Gerrit Cole endured the worst start of his season last time out against the Red Sox — six runs on seven hits in four innings. That being said, he’s still one of the leaders in the AL Cy Young race. He hasn’t been spotless this season against the Rays, though does have two starts in which he held them to two runs. In 26 starts, Cole is 10-4 with a 3.03 ERA (140 ERA+), 3.46 FIP, and 170 strikeouts in 160.1 innings
The Yankees had no answer for Zach Eflin last time they faced him, as he held them scoreless across six innings giving up three hits and no walks with five strikeouts. In a year beset by injury that has seen four of their starters lose the rest of their seasons to injury, Eflin has been the one consistent presence in the Rays rotation, leading all their pitchers with 3.5 fWAR. He’s got the second-lowest walk rate (3.5 percent) of any qualified starter, helped by his 91st percentile chase rate. In 24 starts, Eflin is 13-7 with a 3.58 ERA (115 ERA+), 3.17 FIP, and 136 strikeouts in 138.1 innings.
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have shown signs of heating up in recent games, which at the very least should make the Yankees a more pleasant viewing experience in the final month. Everson Pereira also collected his first big league hit yesterday, a scorching double to left in the eighth inning. Otherwise, the Yankees make two changes to last night’s lineup replacing Harrison Bader with Isiah Kiner-Falefa in center and Kyle Higashioka with Ben Rortvedt behind the plate.
There’s an unfamiliar face in the Rays lineup, with Osleivis Basabe playing shortstop following Wander Franco’s placement on administrative leave while he is investigated by MLB and criminal authorities in the Dominican Republic. In his stead, the rookie Basabe (a consensus top-ten prospect for Tampa) has hit the ground running, slashing .333/.385/.500 with a 151 wRC+ in his first ten big league games. Around him, more than half the Rays’ lineup has hit at least 16 home runs this season en route to leading the AL with 189 thus far.
How to watch
Location: Tropicana Field — St. Petersburg, FL
First pitch: 6:40 pm ET
TV broadcast: YES — NYY / Bally Sports Sun — WSH
Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9, WADO 1280
Online stream: MLB.tv (out-of-market only)