The Tampa Bay Rays’ division rivals, New York Yankees have lost their projected number two or three (depending on the source) starter for the year. We take a look at how the rotations stack up in the AL East.
The Tampa Bay Rays are the Yankees’ biggest opposition en route to the AL East title in 2020. Just a few weeks ago the Yankees boasted the number one offense in baseball, despite Aaron Judge and Giancarlo missing significant time.
The Yankees won 103 games last season, seven more than the Rays made away with. The Yankees may have had the most dominant offense, but the Rays had the most dominant pitching in the American League.
Moves and Countermoves
The Yankees set out to improve their pitching so they signed a massive contract with the best pitcher on the free-agent market, Gerritt Cole. Adding Cole to the mix with James Paxton, Luis Severino, and Masahiro Tanaka would be a massive upgrade for the Yankees.
Meanwhile, the Rays added offense all over the field by trading for Hunter Renfroe and his 33 homers, Jose Martinez (lefty killer), and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (one of the most prolific power hitters in Japan).
The Yankees have lost a lot of ground in pitching over the past couple of weeks. First, it was announced that James Paxton would miss 3-4 months following back surgery. Then, today the Yankees announced that Luis Severino would miss the entire 2020 season with Tommy John surgery.
Rays Have Best Rotation in AL EAST
You never want to see a guy suffer a catastrophic injury with a grueling recovery such as required with Tommy John, but the Yankees rotation is clearly left standing in the shadow of the boys from St. Pete.
Most would give the advantage to Gerrit Cole when it comes to the aces, but it’s closer than some may think. Cole finished second in AL Cy Young voting last season and the Rays’ Charlie Morton finished third.
Masahiro Tanaka is still a very effective pitcher, unfortunately for the Yankees, he profiles more like a Yonny Chirinos or Ryan Yarbrough, who are competing to earn the numbers four and five spots in the Rays’ rotation. Blake Snell dealt with injuries last season but still managed a decent year. His strikeout numbers are truly elite. Snell won the 2018 AL Cy Young with 21 wins and a 1.89 ERA.
This is where it’s all fallen apart for the Yankees. Their number-three starter is J.A. Happ while the Rays roll out another potential Cy Young candidate in Tyler Glasnow. Happ is 37 and coming off of a 4.91 ERA in 2019. In just 12 starts last season, Glasnow had a 1.78 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 60.2 innings.
Fours and Fives
The Rays are likely to go with Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough in the four and five spots. Both are two of the best at preventing hard contact and eating innings. They profile similarly to Tanaka, who is currently listed as the Yankees’ number two starter.
The Rays’ Opportunity
The Rays have a huge opportunity to get off to a hot start while the Yankees try and hold on until Paxton returns. Even then, they have to hope they are getting the healthy, effective version of Paxton.
Do you think the disparity in pitching staffs is enough to give the Rays the advantage in the AL East?