Yankees vs. Rays Pick – MLB September 21st

The New York Yankees staged a valiant effort to get back into the thick of things. However, the prospect of them earning a wildcard is looking dimmer by the day. The Yankees did what they had to do by beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3. But when there are only two weeks left in the regular season, and a bunch of good teams ahead, their 3.5 gap seems like a lot more than that. Credit should be given to the Yankees for coming back and being in the talks for the postseason.

It almost feels like after Alex Rodriguez retired, the Yankees kicked it up a gear and started to get serious. Coincidence or not, the Yanks would be sitting in the postseason if they played like this throughout the entire season. Teams get hot and cold, but the Yankees didn’t get hot until the end of August. They rode an impressive string of success, but losing five in a row recently did them in.

The Yankees were able to snap that five-game skid with a win against the Rays last night. The Bronx Bombers and Rays will do it all over again today, with Masahiro Tanaka and Alex Cobb getting the call on the hump. Tanaka has stayed healthy in 2016 and has pitched at a high level. The question mark heading into the regular season was whether he would compete with a clean bill of health. He answered it with aces, staying healthy and pitching like an elite pitcher.

Tanaka is supposed to be elite, he isn’t making minimum wage here to pitch for the Yankees. He is expected to pitch well and that is what he’s achieved in 2016. When Tanaka is healthy he one of the best pitchers in baseball. The rest of the team just has to do their part next season for him to get more recognition, which he rightfully deserves. Tanaka will take on fifth-year pitcher, Alex Cobb.

New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Masahiro Tanaka (13-4, 2.97 ERA) vs Alex Cobb (1-0, 3.06 ERA)

Like Tanaka, Cobb has had to overcome some bump along the way with regards to injuries. When he is healthy, Cobb is one of the better pitchers in baseball. Certainly he is one of the most underrated pitchers. In each of his last two seasons, Cobb has posted an ERA below 3.00. He’s arrived to the party late in 2016, as a result of a shoulder injury he suffered all the way back in 2014. Last season was a wash for Cobb, who never was able to make an appearance. He was going strong, with an ERA of 2.87 before he unfortunately had to sit out the rest of the season and 2015. It was devastating to a guy who was great in 2013 as well, with a 2.76 ERA in 22 starts.

Cobb is trying to make up for lost time and has been doing his part effectively. In his most recent showing, he stifled the Toronto Blue Jays, allowing only 2 hits and 1 run across 6.2 innings of work. He’s posted a 3.06 ERA and 1.08 ERA since making his return to the majors. Cobb doesn’t look like he’s had any time off, let alone two years. However, the Rays are being cautious with him, as he has on a pitch count to limit the potential damage he could do to his surgically repaired shoulder.

Tanaka has posted a 1.74 ERA in his last three starts, giving up just 2 in his last two starts in total. He would rather pitch on the road, as he holds a 2.11 ERA, compared to a 3.86 ERA at Yankee Stadium. Cobb is a good pitcher, but I’m still being cautious with him. Any sign of trouble, and the Rays will go to the bullpen. I see the Yankees picking up another win today in Tampa.