The New York Yankees are moving on in the 2020 MLB postseason, getting ready to face the AL East-rival Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series.
After sweeping the Cleveland Indians in the one-of-a-kind Wild Card round, the Yankees face their toughest challenge yet. The Rays own the best record in the American League at 40-20, seven games ahead of the Yankees, who made the playoffs as the 5-seed. The Rays also had the upper-hand on the Yankees throughout the regular season, as the Yankees only went 2-8 against them.
One factor that would in-theory favor the Yankees in this series is the neutral-site Petco Park. Due to COVID-19, the MLB playoffs will be played in a ‘bubble’, with the American League bubble being in San Diego and Los Angeles, cancelling Tampa Bay’s very strong home field advantage. They had the 3rd best home record this season, at 20-9. But the Yankees’ road record this season was 11-18, versus the remarkable 20-11 away record by the Rays.
Game 1’s pitching matchup will be one of the marquee playoff matchups. Gerritt Cole will take the mound for the Yanks against 2018 AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell. Both pitchers have pitched at all-star levels this and previous seasons. Cole has dominated the Rays in previous playoff appearances, especially in last year’s ALDS as a member of the Houston Astros. And the Yankees have hit Blake Snell about 20% better than his league average, according to tOPS+ stats.
The Rays have more firepower in their starting pitching, with Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton lined up to pitch Games Two and Three. The Yankees have a playoff stud in Masahiro Tanaka who will likely pitch Game Two, but he did not have his best stuff this regular season.
Fans will also hope that the Yankees firepower offense will once again ignite against the Rays. It has struggled in waves during the regular season with various injuries to players like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. But if they were to produce at the same clip as in the Wild Card round, it would be a huge advantage for the Bronx Bombers.
First pitch tonight at Petco Park is at 8:07 PM EDT.
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