Tampa Bay Rays: Opening Day Just Around the Corner

Apr 3, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; A general view of Tropicana Field as the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays line up for the national anthem. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; A general view of Tropicana Field as the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays line up for the national anthem. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Just weeks away from Opening Day, the Tampa Bay Rays will host their division rivals New York Yankees to begin the 2017 season in a three-game series. Here’s a glimpse of what the pitching matchups could look like.

The start to the regular season is going to be here before you know it and is exactly three weeks away from opening day. The Tampa Bay Rays first series of the season is against the New York Yankees, and the match-up is taking place at home under the Dome at Tropicana Field.

Here is some history on the Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day games over the past 19 years. Out of those 19 games, only four games were played against a team not in the American League East; those teams were the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners.

This series will mark the fourth time that the Rays and Yankees have met on Opening Day, and the first time since 2012. The Rays have won all of their Opening Day’s against the Bronx Bombers, with their first coming in 2004 by a score of 9-4. Their next meeting occurred in 2009 with a 15-5 win and in their last meeting, in 2012 the Rays came from behind in the bottom of the ninth to pullout a 7-6 win. Overall on Opening Day, the Rays record stands at  9-10.

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Opening Day for the Tampa Bay Rays is set for Sunday, April 2 and ESPN will broadcast the game between the division rivals as part of their Opening Day at 1 p.m. This game is the first game of a three games series, with game two set for Tuesday April 4 and Wednesday April 5, with a game time set for 7:10 p.m.

Both teams have strong pitching staffs and are projected to do well this season and to open the season the match-up will feature Chris Archer for the Rays and Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees.

Archer had a great season last year in regards to strikeouts but struggled in getting wins and is projected to have a bounce back year. Archer was selected as Team USA’s opening starter in the WBC this past week and had a strong performance. In his four-inning limit, he did not allow a hit and struck out three batters.

On the other hand, Tanaka had a great 2016 season.  He had an ERA of just over 3.00 and had a record of 14-4.  If both pitchers play as they are projected to do this season they should both be able to get to 20 wins.

The game two match-up in the series will most likely be Jake Odorizzi vs. Michael Pineda.  Odorizzi who performed well last season for the Rays and the team is hoping he can build upon that.  He had a 3.69 ERA and a record of 10-6 and with the help of pitching Coach Jim Hickey, he should be able to keep improving.

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Pineda struggled at times last year and this caused him to have a record of 6-12 and an ERA just under 5.00.  In the past he has dominated games and they Yankees hope he can have a better season in 2017.  The final match-up should be Alex Cobb vs. CC Sabathia.  Both pitchers have been around awhile and they had opposite seasons last year.

Cobb was coming off Tommy John surgery and was only able to pitch in five games.  In those games, he struggled a ton; his ERA jumped to 8.59 and had a record of 1-2.  The Rays are hoping with a full offseason that Cobb can return to the great pitcher he was before the surgery.

On the other hand, the past few seasons Sabathia had begun to decline in his personal life, going to rehab and his pitching.  Many thought his career was done, but last season he improved his game.  He had an ERA of 3.91 and a record of 9-12, which was better than his two previous seasons.  This should be Sabathia’s last season with the Yankees; he will be 37 this summer and his contract is ending.  This pitching matchups might change but either way it should be a fun opening series to watch.

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The opening series is one many Rays fans are excited about to see how the team will play this year. With the anticipation of pitchers performing better than last season and with the addition of many new faces on the team it could be the best season the Rays have had in a few years.