Series Preview: Rays @ Yankees
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
The Yankees can’t seem to turn the corner. It seems like every time they start to play well, they immediately follow it up with a bad streak. For the last three months, we’ve been telling ourselves it is just a matter of time, but here we are at the halfway point of the season, and the Yankees sit just two games above .500. Their schedule up until the All-Star Break is not difficult, so if the Bombers are gonna turn that corner, now would be the time, starting with the Rays.
Probable Pitching Match-ups
Rays @ Yankees
Chris Archer Monday, June 30th: 7:05 pm EST David Phelps
David Price Tuesday, July 1st: 7:05 pm EST Hiroki Kuroda
Jake Odorizzi Wednesday, July 2nd: 1:05 pm EST Vidal Nuno
Who’s Hot?: Matt Joyce has had a very nice week, with a few good games including one amazing game. It’s safe to say he is locked in. In the last week, the left fielder is hitting .350, with a couple of bombs and six RBI. Yankees’ pitching shouldn’t give him anything good to hit.
The Captain’s average continues to climb, especially with his performance over the same span. Derek Jeter is hitting .389 with a few RBI, and a long ball. He has been showing signs of really coming around, and I don’t think anyone should be surprised if by season’s end, Jeter’s average is somewhere around .300.
Who’s Not?: Desmond Jennings and Evan Longoria on the other hand have been awful. Jennings is hitting just .214 in his last seven games, with just one long ball and a RBI, while Longoria is a shade better, at .222 with a homer to go along with the three runs he drove in.
*What To Watch For*
David Phelps will get the ball for the first game of the three-game set. Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar, and James Loney should be pleased by this, as the trio owns Phelps. The three have combined for 12 hits in 32 at-bats, which comes out to a .375 average. However, there are only three RBI among them. The other players (seven) who have a history with the right-hander have gone 4-for-32 (.125) with just two ribbies.
Hiroki Kuroda will start the middle game. It seems like Zobrist, Matt Joyce, and Evan Longoria pick up the ball well from the 39-year-old. Together, they have put up 18 hits in 48 at-bats, translating to a nice .375 average, to go along with 6 long balls and 12 runs batted in. Kuroda has tamed the rest of the Rays line-up, so as long as he can hold down those three, he should be able to perform well.
Finally, for the Wednesday matinee, Vidal Nuno gets the ball. I don’t care how well he did against the Red Sox in his last start, he should not be on this Major League roster, but unfortunately he still is. Nuno has made a couple of starts against Tampa Bay, and surprisingly has not pitched poorly. The team as a whole (all the players who have faced Nuno) is only 12-for-46 (.261). The most surprising of the stats, is the fact that homer happy lefty has only allowed one big fly in those two starts. If he can keep the ball in the park, which is a big if, there should be no reason why Nuno can’t go deep into the game.