AL East

Masahiro Tanaka & Chris Archer Set to Duel at Tropicana Field

Starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka #19 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics at Coliseum on May 21, 2016 in Oakland, California.The Yankees defeated the Athletics 5-1. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

After rattling off six straight wins, the New York Yankees dropped their last two games in a three games series against the Toronto Blue Jays. They will look to get back on track tonight with their ace, Masahiro Tanaka, on the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays.

New York’s starting pitchers have been throwing the ball well recently, but their bats have quieted down a little. This series against the Rays may be just what their lineup needs to get hot again, as Tampa’s pitchers have posted a 6.53 ERA over their last six games. They lost five of those six contests.

Last season the name Chris Archer, would have struck fear into the hearts of the Yankees’ lineup, but Tampa’s former ace has struggled just as much as his fellow rotation members. Archer is 3-5 on the year with a 5.16 ERA. It doesn’t look like things are turning around for him either, as he gave up six runs in three innings of work in his last start.

Despite the fact that Archer’s numbers are noticeably worse than they were in the past, he still believes that he’s right where he needs to be in order to help his team win games, “I’ve kept the team in the game. So mechanical, there’s no adjustments. Just need to throw pitches in better locations.”

One bright side for the Rays may be the fact that a few of the integral pieces in New York’s lineup have struggled in their careers against Archer. Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann all have had issues hitting the young Tampa pitcher.

Joe Girardi won’t have to worry about his lineup hitting the ball too much though if Tanaka gets out there and throws like he has recently. New York’s ace is only 2-0 on the year, but his 3.24 ERA shows that he’s had quality starts in which he just hasn’t received the run support that he needed to earn a win.

In his last start against the Oakland Athletics, Tanaka only gave up one run and five hits over the seven innings that he pitched. Following this win, Masahiro commented on what allowed him to have such a quality start, “Being able to put the two-seamer in good locations, I think that was one of the keys.”

If New York wants to continue climbing out of the basement of the AL East, they’ll have to win series against teams in their division. Tonight is a good game to start this upward trend. The contest will start tonight at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida at 7:10 ET.

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