Friday, April 17, 2015

Yankees looking to get on track against Rays

The New York Yankees begin a three-game set Friday against division rival Tampa Bay (6-4, second place in AL East) with the hopes of winning their first series of the season. Adam Warren, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda are the scheduled starters for the Yankees versus the Rays.

Adam Warren gets the start Friday.
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
via Flickr.
The Yankees are 3-6 on the season, good for last place in the American League East. The first nine games of the season have seen plenty of ups and downs for the club. The rotation has been OK, but big innings and bad defense have suffocated the Yankees.

Warren pitched very well in his debut (5.1 IP, 2 R, 1 ER) against the Boston Red Sox, but took the loss. Tanaka will be making his third start of the season. He was undone by a poor inning in the Yankees' opener, but was a bit better in his victory over the Red Sox. Pineda is also set for his third start after picking up his first win despite allowing four runs against the Baltimore Orioles.

Not all of the opposition scoring is the fault of the pitchers. The defense has been letting the team down with several miscues, each of which seems to open the flood gates for their opponent.

On the offensive side, the Yankees best players with the bat are Chris Young (.318/.375/.727 with 3 doubles, 2 HR & 4 RBI in 23 plate appearances) and Alex Rodriguez (.286/.394/.571 with 2 doubles, 2 HR, 7 RBI in 33 PA). That’s right, a bench player and the 39-year-old designated hitter that missed the 2014 season have shown the most consistency at the plate.

Mark Teixeira could also be placed in the group of players doing well overall (.241/.361/.655 with 3 doubles, 3 HR and 5 RBI). If Teixeira can keep up this kind of power the Yankees will deal with a low batting average.

Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius are still trying to find some consistency to their plate appearances. Beltran (.171/.211/.286) looked the best he has all season in the finale against Baltimore Wednesday night with a two-run double off the top of the wall and a long drive to the warning track. Drew has two home runs (one a go-ahead grand slam) but just two other hits leaving his slash line at .148/.200/.370. Gregorius, one of the main defensive culprits has also been pitiful at the plate  .172/.219/.172.

Brett Gardner, who missed the last two games of the Orioles series after getting hit in the wrist with a fastball, is expected to play Friday after an MRI confirmed he simply had a bone bruise.

The Yankees will face Nathan Karns Friday, Jake Odorizzi Saturday afternoon and Sunday’s Rays' pitcher has yet to be determined.

Karns, a rookie, will be making his third start of the season. He was knocked around by the Orioles in his first start of the season, but bounced back to notch the win against the Miami Marlins, racking up six strikeouts in the process of allowing just one run in seven innings.

Odorizzi is off to a great start for the Rays. He is 2-0 with a 0.61 ERA, 0.48 WHIP and 10 strikeouts in 14.2 innings. His wins came against the Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, at home and on the road respectively. Odorizzi pitches well at Tropicana Field – 2.89 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .206 BAA and 123 strikeouts in 127.2 innings.

As for the Rays offense, they are still led by star third baseman, Evan Longoria, who is off to a bit of a slow start, and whose presence in Friday's lineup is in doubt after being hit by a pitch Thursday.

Along with Longoria, the Rays are seeing the emergence of Kevin Kiermaier continue (.344/.382/.750 with 5 doubles, 2 HR and 4 RBI) and newcomer Steven Souza has two homers, seven RBI and three stolen bases on the young season. The Yanks will miss having to face James Loney, who destroys Yankees pitching, as he is on the disabled list with an oblique strain.

Playing in Tampa has not been easy for the Yankees in recent seasons, as the Rays have won 14 of their last 22 against the Yanks at The Trop. Further, the Rays are 4-0-1 in the last five series between the clubs in Tampa since 2010.

So it seems the Yankees will need to buck a couple of trends in order to get their season headed in the right direction.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a correspondent for FantasyPros, where he writes a weekly column covering the closer/bullpen situations around Major League Baseball. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.


  1. The Yankees need to make Tony Pena manager. Look at what he was able to do in the world baseball classic with the Dominican Republic team, he went undefeated. That's what Pena is able to do with a team that has good players and talent. In 2003 when Girardi and Pena won manager of the year, Pena was able to do it with the ROYALS arguably the worst team possible. If Girardi an Pena traded spot in 2003 the Marlins would of been the 98 Yankees and Girardi would of resign by the all star break.

  2. Nice stuff here! Totally agree with your point.

    In fact, I think you left one more piece out that agrees with you even more: Kendrys Morales.
    The sample size on players who hold out to sign until after the qualifying compensation goes away and then joins a team midseason with little time to get the rust off is tiny, so we have to go by what's out there. And that's Morales. Though he has disappointed since his major injury years ago, he has been a steady, solid hitter every year. Except for last year, when he finally signed in midseason. And he was AWFUL. Just as Drew was.

    And now Morales is back to being a positive bat. We already have good reason to believe that players who take this wait-it-out approach will see a major hit on their hitting, all the more reason to expect that Drew will have his usual line by season's end (excepting of course that it might be a tad better, thanks to Yankee Stadium). He's a streaky bat to begin with, so opening struggles should not be seen as the end of the world.

  3. Thanks for reading and the comment. Good point with Morales and the fact that there is not a lot of evidence out there in respect to holdouts. I believe the Yanks will take their time with Drew perhaps giving him a longer leash than some fans want.

  4. I am not going to disagree with your thoughts but merely add a different perspective on the Drew situation. As you stated Drew at age 32 is not going to be a part of the Yankees' future. Rob Refsnyder represents the youth movement that is underway. The fans want to see a sample of that youth in today's world. Toronto has several rookies that are on the roster while the Yankees have none. The Yankees are not likely playoff contenders this year nor probably next year as well.

    The fans are looking for hope of better results to come.They really don't want to see another underperforming veteran like Drew. Didi could have helped with this issue but his terrible start only brought into question the wisdom of Cashman and some of the moves that were made in the offseason, Andrew Miller obviously excluded. The Yankees have some prospects that have enough upside to whet the appetite of the fans. The signing of Drew took away an opportunity to display one of those prospects. Now all the fans have to root for are a bunch of uninspiring veterans. That is one major reason that the Drew signing was so vehemently opposed.

  5. Thanks for the comment Les. I see your viewpoint and it is hard to argue against it. My point here was more to suggest the Yankees' stance than to say it was the right decision or not. I've mentioned in other articles that the Yankees must be ready to move on from Drew if it begins to bog the team down. I was also surprised they went in Drew's direction when they signed him.

    As it stands, despite the slow start, Drew's overall lack of offense is really not the reason the Yankees are 6-6. Also, Refsnyder is still making a mess at second base at Triple-A. He has 5 errors already in just 23 attempts and is off to a really bad start with the stick - .229/.289/.257. None of that is going to accelerate the process.