New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Which team has the ALDS edge?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 01: New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays exchanges words after the final out in the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium on September 01, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 01: New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays exchanges words after the final out in the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium on September 01, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Breaking down the first place, Tampa Bay Rays

From starters to relievers, Tampa has perhaps the best pitching staff in MLB. Their collection of mighty arms ranked third in baseball with a 3.56 ERA, sixth with a 1.22 WHIP, and sixth with 552 strikeouts.

Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, and Charlie Morton head a dominant rotation. Each appears in prime form as they prepare for a relentless Yankees offense. If the starters hold up their end of the bargain, then their relief core should bring the Rays home.

Manager Kevin Cash has mastered bullpen strategy. He’ll concoct a Plan A, B, C, and D seemingly for every game. Though, it’s rare that he has to move beyond Plan A because his relievers are simply that good. Get ready to see plenty of Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson, Pete Fairbanks, and Aaron Loup throughout the Yankees series.

Tampa plays fundamentally sound baseball, which is vital this time of year. Kevin Keirmaier runs the ball down in center field with the best of them; his 1.1 defensive runs saved ranked 5th in MLB this season. Their infield accounted for 0.85 double plays turned per game this season, which ranked 8th in MLB.

Offensively, few names throughout the Rays lineup will pop out at you, but that doesn’t mean the lineup as a whole struggles to produce. Tampa finished 12th in baseball in runs scored with 289. Their OBP ranked 11th, and their home run total ranked 14th. A middle-of-the-pack offense is all they need with the pitching they possess.