Yankees/Rays Division Series Preview By Rich Coutinho

The division series between the Rays and Yankees proves to be an interesting series of games between two teams who have real disdain for each other. This rivalry is a fairly new one but what it lacks in history is made up for in drama within the context of this truncated season.

The Rays won the Al East going away beating the Yankees 8 of 10 times. It should not be discounted that the Yankees were ravaged by injuries during those games but to just dismiss the Rays domination of the Bronx Bombers might be a big mistake.

The Yankees main issue is these contests was defensive mistakes and give the Rays credit–they never let the Bronx Bombers breathe taking advantage of just about every defensive miscue. And let’s remember no team in the AL committed more errors than the Yankees in 2020.

But the most interesting showdown might be the pitching in this series as in the firsst 2 games Gerrit Cole and Massahiro Tanaka face Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow and to me that matchup is a toss up but the bigger question is how will Game 3 go with the likely counterparts being Charlie Morton and Jay Happ. And should a Game 5 arise could either Gerrit Cole or Blake Snell operate on 3 days rest? Remember no off days for travel since all games will be at Petco Park in San Diego.

And then there is the issue of the bullpens. Despite the Yankees possessing the names out there, the Rays bullpen may be deeper and better but we may come to know names like Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks as they might be the most underrated relief pitchers in the game. Tampa has had over 10 different pitchers get saves this year and that speaks to the depth and talent of that group while the Yankees have been a rather up and down group as evidenced by Adam Ottavino being sent to Aaron Boone’s doghouse in the Wild Card series.

And that brings me to the last point-Aaron Boone already has a bunch of questionable moves on his Yankee playoff resume while Kevin Cash seems to be a field general that combines analytics with his gut feel as well as any skipper in the game. He certainly has a plan going into the game but like an NFL coach, he is never afraid to adjust game plan to the tone of the game.

Prediction: Rays in 5 with Snell beating Cole in Game 5.-

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