Game one of the American League Divisional Series begins tonight when the Yankees take on their divisional rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays. It will be a battle of aces as Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84) matches up with Blake Snell (4-2, 3.24) in the opener. The Rays won the American League East with a 40-20 record while the Yanks finished in 2nd place with a 33-27 record.
Tampa Bay dominated the season series against the Yankees, winning 8 of the 10 games they played this year.
Statistical Comparisons: The Yankees were 4th in the MLB in runs per game (5.25) total runs scored (315). They were 5th in home runs (94) and tied for 3rd in on-base percentage (.342). The Rays were 12th in the league in runs per game (4.82) and total runs scored (289). They were 15th in home runs (80) and 11th in on-base percentage (.328)
The Yankees pitching staff ranked 12th in the league in runs allowed per game (4.50) and 14th in team ERA (4.35). They were 12th in total earned runs allowed (242) and 11th in strikeouts (528). Tampa Bay ranked 4th in runs allowed per game (3.82) and 3rd in team ERA (3.56). They were 5th in earned runs allowed (209) and 6th in strikeouts (552).
Who Starts Game Two? While the Rays will go with Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton in games 2&3, the Yankees have not announced a game two starter yet. They could go with Masahiro Tanaka (3-3, 3.56) who pitched game two against Cleveland or JA Happ (2-2, 3.47). Happ might get the nod as he was arguably the Yankees' most consistent starter behind Gerrit Cole this season. Tanaka would most likely get the start in game three.
Will we see Deivi Garcia? In this best of five series, the Yankees might need a 4th starter. Their options would be the 21 year old rookie Deivi Garcia (3-2, 4.98), who pitched pretty well in 4 of his 6 starts. The other option would be Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 5.11) who hasn't shown much consistency this year.
Patience is Key. The Yankees offense is finally healthy, and has come back to life. Their ability to work the counts and wait for their pitch is what got them past the strong Cleveland duo of Shane Bieber and Carlos Carrasco. They will need to do the same thing against the talented starters of the Rays if they want to win this series.
Battle of the Bullpens Both teams have good bullpens. The Yankees will need their back end trio of Chad Green, Zack Britton and Arolids Chapman to be on their "A Game" and hold any late leads they might have.
Neutral Site = NO TROP It is no secret the Yankees have struggled at Tropicana Field in recent years. This series will be played at San Diego's Petco Park, so no home field advantage for either side.