On this episode of the Yanks Go Yard Series Preview Show, brought to you by Knoda.com, I started the show by talking about the New York Yankees (61-58) losing both games to the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards. After taking three of four from the Tigers and a win in the series opener with the Indians, the team has lost four straight games and has scored less than two runs per game in those losses. On Wednesday, the Yankees used Michael Pineda for 67 pitches and five innings. Pineda gave them a great outing, but the Yankee bullpen struggled not only on Wednesday, but in Monday’s loss as well in giving up home runs. One of the issues to keep an eye on for New York is their closer David Robertson. The only reason Robertson is an issue is not because he has saved 31 games in 33 opportunities, it is because he has not appeared in a game since August 7th.
Due to these two losses, the Yankees are now eight games back in the AL East with 43 games left, leaving fans looking to the Wild Card race for the only way that the Bronx Bombers can make the playoffs. In the Wild Card race, the team is four games behind the Detroit Tigers for the second and final spot. New York now heads down to Tampa Bay to face the Rays, a team that they are 3-7 against this season. That being said, they are playing a Tampa team for the first time without ace pitcher David Price in the rotation, who is now in Detroit.
The Tampa Bay Rays (60-61) traded away their ace David Price to the Tigers for Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin, and prospect Wily Adames. Overall, the team has been playing .500 ball since Price left and are coming into this series on a good note, winning six of their last eight games to get within six games in the Wild Card race. One of the reasons for that success has been the starting pitching. Even without Price, the Rays have seen a new ace develop in Alex Cobb. Cobb, Friday’s starter against Brandon McCarthy, has not lost a start since June 23 and is averaging eight strikeouts per game in his last four starts. Jake McGee has still held down the fort at the closer’s spot as he has not blown a save since June 16 against the Orioles.
As for the offense, the team scored 25 runs in their four games against Texas. One of those players who has been the main run-producers for the Rays since the All-Star break is first baseman James Loney. Loney has ten RBI’s in his last 24 games and is hitting .333 over that span. Evan Longoria is having a down year in terms of power numbers (.253, 15 home runs, 63 RBI’s), but the offense could be getting more of a boost in the coming days. Right fielder Wil Myers is close to returning to the team after being out since May 30 due to a wrist injury. It’s a good thing Myers won’t return this series for the Yankees, since he has 14 of his 25 RBI’s against them this year.
For this episode, I spoke with Joe Saunders, a staff writer over at Rays Colored Glasses. Joe gave me his thoughts on the David Price trade, the Rays’ schedule filled with mostly AL East opponents the rest of the way, as well as the impact of a potential return for Myers. Here are some of the other topics we discussed on the show:
- Joe’s thoughts on the main reason for the Rays’ success at Tropicana Field against the Yankees
- Which starting pitcher has more expectations to step up with Price now gone?
- What has Joe seen from Joe Maddon‘s club since the Price trade?
- Pitching Matchups
- Alex Cobb not giving up more than two earned runs in each of his last six starts
- Brandon McCarthy‘s career success vs. the Rays and 8 K’s in each of his last two starts
- Drew Smyly‘s expectations for this season and where he fits in the rotation going forward (Saturday’s Rays’ starter)
- How will Shane Greene fare on extra rest Saturday afternoon? (2.45 ERA in four road appearances)
- Jeremy Hellickson (Sunday’s Rays’ starter) starting to find his form in his last two starts
- Concern level on Hiroki Kuroda (Sunday’s Yankees’ starter) after struggling against Cleveland in his last start
- Rays’ Players To Watch (Joe: Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist, Ricky: Desmond Jennings)
- Yankees’ Players To Watch: Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira)
- My thoughts on Hal Steinbrenner’s comments about Brian Cashman and Alex Rodriguez