AL East teams are set for an American League Divisional Series showdown as the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays will battle it out starting Monday. Both teams swept their Wild Card series.
The New York Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians in two games, while the Rays took out the Toronto Blue Jays, outscoring them 11-3. Here is a closer look at the upcoming series.
Trying to maintain a “bubble” atmosphere, the series will be held at the neutral venue of Petco Park in San Diego. The schedule will be as follows:
- Game 1: Monday, 8:07 p.m. ET, TBS
- Game 2: Tuesday, Time TBD, TBS
- Game 3: Wednesday, Time TBD, TBS
- Game 4 (if necessary): Thursday, Time TBD, TBS
- Game 5 (if necessary): Friday, Time TBD, TBS
2020 Regular-Season Records
- New York Yankees: 33-27
- Tampa Bay Rays: 40-20
These teams squared off 10 times throughout the regular season, and the Tampa Bay Rays definitely held the advantage. In total, the Rays were 8-2 in those matchups.
New York Yankees 2020 Stats
During the regular season, the Yankees were fourth in runs scored at 5.44 per game. In the first series of the postseason, that offense continued to show off, hitting seven home runs, including two by Giancarlo Stanton. The best hitter in the first series, though, was Gleyber Torres, who hit .714/.800/1.143 with a home run, three RBI and three runs scored.
Throughout the regular season, the Yankees had to outslug teams because they ranked 14th in runs allowed per game at 4.55, which continued in the first series. In fact, the Yankees allowed nine runs in Game 2 of the series after Masahiro Tanaka gave up six runs in four innings in the start. Still, with Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 94 strikeouts in 73 innings) atop the rotation and a solid bullpen, they present a tough matchup for most teams.
Health has consistently been the biggest variable for the Yankees both this year and in recent years, specifically Aaron Judge and Stanton. With both of them healthy, it makes an already intimidating lineup that much scarier (hence the 22 runs scored in two games). In the first series, these two combined to go just 3-for-16, but hit three home runs and drove in a combined five runs. Continued health and production from the duo are key for the Yankees to be successful.
Tampa Bay Rays 2020 Stats
Offensively, the Tampa Bay Rays were a solid team this season, ranking 12th overall in runs per game at 4.84. Over the last 30 days of the regular season, outfielder Randy Arozarena was one of the most productive hitters on the team with a .291/.375/.655 line with six home runs, nine RBI and 13 runs scored. He seems to have continued his success in the postseason, going 4-for-8 with two doubles, a triple, one RBI and three runs scored. While the Rays may not have the big hitters of the Yankees, they can put up runs when they need to.
Where Tampa Bay is especially strong is in its pitching, as the team ranked second overall in earned run average this season with a staff ERA of 3.50. The Rays’ top three starters are Blake Snell (4-2, 3.24 ERA), Tyler Glasnow (5-1, 4.08 ERA) and Charlie Morton (2-2, 4.74 ERA). In the two games of the Wild Card series, their pitching continued to shine, allowing just three runs and 12 hits in the sweep of the Blue Jays.
This season, the Rays’ bullpen was electric, with seven relievers who made 10 or more appearances who had an ERA of under 3.00. Probably their two best relievers were Nick Anderson, who converted six out of six save opportunities and had a 0.55 ERA, 0.49 WHIP and struck out 26 in 16 1/3 innings this season, and Diego Castillo, who went 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and struck out 23 in 21 2/3 innings. Manager Kevin Cash has the ability to not only shorten the game but attack an opposing offense with a lot of different looks out of the bullpen.
- Game 1: Gerritt Cole vs Blake Snell
- Game 2: Deivi Garcia vs Tyler Glasnow
- Game 3: Masahiro Tanaka vs Charlie Morton
- Game 4: TBD vs. TBD
- Game 5: TBD vs. TBD
The odds are fairly even for this divisional series, with the Yankees at -125 and the Rays at -105 heading into the opener.
In terms of winning the American League pennant, these two teams are joint favorites with moneylines of +165.
Divisional Series Pick
This series should be really fun to watch as you have two of the best teams in the American League square off. While the Rays owned the Yankees during the regular season, New York looked like a different team, particularly on offense, during its first series.
With health across the board, I have a feeling that the Yankees are going to continue their offensive onslaught and overtake the Rays to head to the ALCS.