It all comes down to this, after a four-day wait that seemed like an eternity, The Yankees are getting back into action in their fourth straight ALDS. This time, they will be taking on the Tampa Bay Rays in San Diego. Although the series will be played in front of no fans at a neutral site, the rivalry these two teams share will still be fierce and exciting.
Road to the ALDS: Rays
The Rays had their strongest season in years in 2020. The Rays finished with a 40-20 record which was good enough for the best record in the American League and second-best in the entire MLB, only to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Tampa Bay Rays were lead by amazing pitching. Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell, and Charlie Morton lead a devastating rotation for the Rays. However, the bullpen wasn’t as devastating. During the course of the season. The Rays lost Andrew Kittridge, Yonny Chirinos, Chaz Roe, Jaelen Beeks, Cody Beeks, and Jose Alvarado all to season-ending injuries. Because of that, the Rays had 10 different players record multiple saves this season.
The hitting for the Rays was the biggest surprise. The most impactful hitter for Tampa was 26-year-old infielder Brendan Lowe. Lowe hit 14 Home Runs, 37 RBI’s, and a .269 average. Rookie Japanese DH Yoshi Tsutsugo, Willy Adames, Austin Meadows, and others lead the Rays offense to an amazing season.
The Rays made short work of the Blue Jays in the Wild Card rounds. Sweeping the series 2-0. The Rays will prove a challenge for the Yankees this week.
Road to the ALDS: Yankees
The Yankees had, for their standards, a rough year. Expectations for the Yankees were serious and full of expectations. Once again, it was championship or bust for the New York Yankees. At times during this season, the Yankees looked like the playoff contenders they were expected to be. But at other times, the Yankees looked like a team that didn’t deserve to be in the playoff hunt. However, the Yankees were able to lock up the five seed in the American League.
The hitting for the Yankees was, as expected, the best part of the team. However, an unlikely star lead the team this season. Luke Voit raked for the Yankees this year with a league-leading 22 home runs. Voit also totaled 52 RBI’s. DJ LeMahieu also had an amazing season. LeMahieu took home the AL Batting Title in 2020 finishing the year with an unreal .364 batting average. Although hurt for much of the season. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton played big roles, especially in the early weeks of the season for the Yankees.
The pitching staff was lead by, of course, Gerrit Cole. The newly signed Cole delivered on every expectation placed on him when he signed his nine-year deal early this year. Cole went 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA. Although home runs bit him numerous times this season, Cole proved why he is one of the best pitchers the MLB has to offer. Masahiro Tanaka, Deivi Garcia and JA Happ also turned in solid performances for the Yankees throughout the season.
What to Expect
The Yankees and Rays will have a tough matchup ahead of them. Although the Rays did control the season series by a comfortable margin, October baseball offers a totally clean slate. Who will take down their division rival and move on to the ALDS? only time will tell.