Forget about the Red Sox for now, Yankees fans. 2020 is all about the Rays.
While the Yankees’ injuries have conveniently coincided with their two series against the Rays, there’s no doubting Tampa Bay is establishing itself as New York’s kryptonite in 2020. They’ve already won the first two series against the Bombers this year, and managed to knock around Gerrit Cole once and win the other game he started.
The Red Sox will always be the Yankees’ biggest and most bitter rival, but New York has won 15 of their last 16 games against Boston. We can put this historic head-to-head feud aside for now. Tampa has won seven of its last eight against the Yanks dating back to 2019, and six of seven in 2020, and it’s starting to become a bit baffling.
We know the Rays are built like a blue collar union considering the front office has the smallest budget in Major League Baseball to work with. This rag tag roster doesn’t sport any stars, but they always seem to come to play against the Yankees.
Star pitcher Blake Snell even said it! The Rays live for these victories.
By every metric, the Yankees should be embarrassing their small market counterparts. But the Rays seem to always bring it a little extra while the Yankees fade into oblivion. Guys like Kevin Kiermaier and Michael Brosseau (who?) all of a sudden begin producing against the New York and the Bombers forget how to collect timely hits.
What’s even better? The Rays’ bullpen, regardless of who they bring in, absolutely paints the corners and leaves the Yankees’ hitters dumbfounded while MLB saves leader Zack Britton can’t seem to field a toss from the first baseman to make an easy out or take care of business TWICE during a tie game.
Yes, the Yankees have registered five straight winning seasons against the Rays, but 2020 is starting to look like the streak from 2011-2014 that New York endured when they went 40-52 against Tampa. This can’t be happening this year.
And even with the Yankees’ early injuries to Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu, you can’t tell us that a hitting core of Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, Aaron Hicks, Gio Urshela, Clint Frazier, Mike Tauchman and Gary Sanchez isn’t better than Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Diaz, Austin Meadows, Willy Adames, Jose Martinez and Kevin Kiermaier.
The Rays have no standout/star players, yet they rank high in just about every offensive category — third in runs scored, third in walks, sixth in OPS, seventh in RBI, eight in total bases — and we don’t understand it. The analytics in Tampa have broken our brains and we need to find a way to defeat them.
The craziest part is that the Yankees have the talent AND analytics on their side too! They just can’t put it together against the Rays and it seriously feels like voodoo. Can this end, please? We simply can’t have a much better team on paper and quadruple the budget and somehow run into a brick wall every time we face these guys.