We’re all knotted at one’s between the Rays and Yankees and we shouldn’t be all that surprised.
Despite the Yankees being favored to win the series, it was the Rays, after all, that cruised to an AL East championship over a Yankees team that was the heaviest division favorite in the league this side of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There’s been plenty to discuss in this series already and while we have yet to see any tempers flare to this point, there’s plenty of room for that as the series moves along between these intense rivals.
For now, let’s focus on the field and take a look at this Rays vs. Yankees ALDS Game 2 pick from Petco Park in San Diego!
Rays vs. Yankees Betting Odds
- Rays (+119)
- Yankees (-129)
- Rays +1.5 (-168)
- Yankees -1.5 (+148)
- Over 9 (-102)
- Under 9 (-118)
Rays vs. Yankees ALDS Game 2 Breakdown
Two-third of the Rays’ three-headed rotation monster is in the books as Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow have both had their turns in this ALDS matchup. Now it’s right-hander Charlie Morton’s turn as he looks to shake off some late-season rust.
This will actually mark Morton’s first start of these playoffs as the Rays needed only Snell and Glasnow to sweep the Blue Jays in two Wild Card games before those two were thrown out to start the first two games of this ALDS matchup.
Morton last pitched back on September 25 against the Phillies when he allowed earned runs (four total) in five innings of work, striking out eight against just one walk. It was the third time in his last four starts that he’s allowed three earned runs in five innings or less while Morton actually never exceeded 5.2 innings pitched in any of his nine regular-season starts as he dealt with a shoulder issue that cost him the final three weeks of August.
In those nine starts, Morton posted a 4.74 ERA, but his 3.45 FIP, 4.01 xFIP and 3.97 SIERA were far more fond of his work. He lost some of his strikeout stuff as his K/9 fell to 9.95 from 11.10 last season and 10.83 in the 2018 campaign. Part of the reason for his drop in punchouts and generally his numbers across the board as his average fastball velocity dipped to 93.8 mph from 95 mph last season and a career-high 96.6 mark int he 2018 season. He’s nearly lost 3 mph on that heater over the last season and change.
Furthermore, he generated far fewer ground balls this season, posting a 41.6% ground ball rate that not only falls well below his 48.2% mark from last season but also his 53.1% career mark.
In 10 regular-season career starts against the Yankees, Morton has worked to a solid 3.83 ERA with a 12.2 K/9 but also posted a 7.27 ERA in 8.2 innings against the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS while with the Houston Astros.
In his postseason career, Morton has worked to a quality 3.70 ERA/3.74 fIP across 41.1 innings.
The Yankee also send a right-handed veteran to the hill for tonight’s start as Masahiro Tanaka gets the nod for this one.
Tanaka lasted just four innings while being shelled for six earned runs in Game 2 of the Yankees’ Wild Card sweep of the Indians as the Bombers’ offense roared back in support of their steady right-hander.
Tanaka has long been a reliable rotation member for the Yanks, working to a career 3.74 ERA/3.91 FIP in seven seasons with the club. That consistent work returned in 2020 as he posted a 3.56 ERA on the season in 10 starts spanning 48 innings, but for the fourth straight season his FIP came in north of 4.00 at 4.42 in 2020 while his SIERA checked in at a solid 4.07.
He gained more strikeout traction this season, but Tanaka put some seriously elite command on display in the form of a 1.50 BB/9 that ranked 11th among MLB pitchers that threw at least 40 innings this season.
Like in previous seasons, the home run ball bit him again this time around. Tanaka yielded a 1.69 HR/9 on the season which is above his 1.36 career mark, but a reduction in ground-ball rate combined with a 6.2% increase in fly-ball rate could be the culprit despite Tanaka allowing just 30.1% hard contact this season, a figure well under his 34.2% career mark.
He’s never faced the Rays in the postseason until tonight, but owns a career 3.21 ERA across 21 starts spanning 130.1 innings against the Rays. Tanaka also owns a tidy 2.70 ERA/3.52 FIP in nine starts and 50 career postseason frames.
The Rays kicked their offense into high gear last night as they plated seven runs in Game 2, but much of that damage came against veteran J.A. Happ who allowed four runs in just 2.2 innings of work while piggy-backing for 21-year-old rookie Deivi Garcia who allowed a solo homer in his one inning of work.
The production against Happ came as no surprise as the Rays largely had their way with left-handed pitching this season, posting a .343 wOBA versus southpaws that ranked sixth league wide.
However, against righties, the Rays’ offense production slipped to a share of 15th where they posted a .319 wOBA while they also had major strikeout woes versus righties in the form of a 28th-ranked 26.3% K-rate against them.
The Rays’ offensive numbers against Tanaka are pretty typical given Tanaka’s quality work combined with home run woes. While current Rays hitters have combined to hit just .238 off of him, they also own a strong .201 ISO and have combined for a seven homers against him as well.
Look for the Yankees to pay special attention to the white-hot Randy Arozarena in this one as he’s gone 9 for 16 (.563) with two doubles and two homers in these playoffs across four contests.
This Yankees offense doesn’t need much explanation as the Bronx Bombers have been swinging it in these playoffs so far.
After obliterating an excellent Cleveland Indians pitching staff for 22 runs in their two-game Wild Card round sweep of the Tribe, the Yankees have played another 14 runs through two games in this ALDS matchup, good for a cool nine runs per game in this postseason.
Look no further than Giancarlo Stanton’s epic home run last night as the latest example of what this Yankees team brings to the table. While this bomb was measured at “just” 458 feet, I would suggest it was much deeper than that if the ball were to finish its trajectory.
The home run was his second of the night and his third in as many at-bats after he slugged a grand slam in his final at-bat of Game 1. Stanton now has five home runs in four postseason contests so far.
With Stanton a bigger presence right now than ever before in a Yankees uniform, I wouldn’t expect much slowing down from this offense. After all, they ranked fourth with a .349 wOBA versus right-handed pitching and fifth with a .208 ISO off righties, and that was without Stanton and Aaron Judge for large portions of the regular season.
Luckily there aren’t any fans in the stands right now as a helmet giveaway would be required at this rate.
If you watched last night’s game, it was a masterpiece from this Rays bullpen that pitched their team to victory.
They allowed one run in four innings of work and that came off a far-too-amped-up Pete Fairbanks in the ninth, but credit Diego Castillo and Nick Anderson with excellent work in innings 6-8 as they shut this Yankees offense down.
It makes sense considering the Rays once again put forth one of the best bullpens in baseball this season.
They ranked third with a 3.37 ERA, fourth with a 3.65 FIP and sixth with a 4.16 xFIP. Given the heavy usage and those numbers, the Rays tied the Minnesota Twins for first with a 3.6 bullpen fWAR this season.
My question now would be the availability of Castillo and Anderson for this Game 3. And if available, can they be as effective as they were in three combined innings last night?
Perhaps we will find out later tonight.
The Yankees’ bullpen didn’t post the same regular-season figures the Rays did, however they’ve held their own in this series after some iffy work in the Wild Card round.
Happ is technically a starter, but after he and Garcia allowing five runs in 3.2 innings, the Yankees’ bullpen allowed just two in the proceeding 4.1 innings. In Game 1, the Yankees’ bullpen supported Gerrit Cole with three clean innings from Chad Green, Zack Britton and Luis Cessa, all of whom got the night off last night and will be fully rested for this one.
Still, this Yankees bullpen wasn’t at its finest during the regular season in ranking 16th with a 4.51 ERA, 20th with a 4.69 FIP and 15th with a 4.52 xFIP.
Of course, the bullpens are usually shortened this time of the season – if you get length from your starter – and the trio of Green, Britton, Cessa and Aroldis Chapman all posted an ERA of 3.51 or better this season.
We’ve actually yet to see Chapman in this series, but he did work two innings of shutout ball in the Wild Card round.
While the Rays have the better bullpen, the Yankees have the more rested back-end to be sure tonight.
Rays vs. Yankees ALDS Game 3 Pick
I expect this series to go the distance, to be honest with you. I expected it from the start and it’s certainly shaping up that way.
That said, I think the Yankees put the Rays on the brink of elimination tonight.
For one, I just don’t trust Morton in this spot. He’s been touched up in three of his last four starts, hasn’t pitched in two weeks and is taking on a white-hot offense that is hitting the ball harder and further than any team in these playoffs right now.
I also don’t like the matchup for the Rays against Tanaka – a pitcher with plenty of regular-season success against them specifically and a pitcher with plenty of postseason success under his belt as well. Keep in mind Tanaka also posted a 2.33 ERA in 19.1 innings outside of Yankee Stadium this season despite being better at home in his career. This is a road game for both sides, however.
I also like a rested Yankees bullpen. As a whole, they weren’t great this season, but the arms they would use to potentially close this one out have indeed been good this season and they are rested, unlike the top arms of the Rays.
I actually don’t anticipate the bullpens playing a major role other than the fact I think the Yanks touch up Morton and we see a notable chunk of that Rays bullpen.
I’m all about Tanaka shutting down the Rays and the Yanks teeing off tonight, so give me the Bronx Bombers on the moneyline in this one.