Home Opener Preview; Yankees look to right the ship

24-hours ago the Yankees were set to open the season at home versus the Tampa Bay Rays. Jordan Montgomery was set to face what the Rays refer to as a “bullpen day”, with the fifth starter being a committee of pitchers (lead on Monday by Austin Pruitt). I expected Yankee hitters to feast on Rays’ pitching to kick off ’18.

However, snow canceled the home opener on Monday and the game has been rescheduled for Tuesday at 4 pm, and as they had perhaps hoped, the Rays’ bullpen day passed uneventfully and Chris Archer is up for the Rays this afternoon. This, as they say, is a whole new ballgame.

Archer pitched the season opener for the Rays against the Boston Red Sox and gave up four runs on six hits over six innings pitched in a 6-4 win for the Rays in which he got the no-decision.

Archer was 10-12 in 2017 with a 4.07 ERA, a career high; however, he did finish the season with 249 strikeouts which was good for third in the American League and had an 11.1 K/9 rate.

In four starts against the Yankees in 2017, Archer went 1-3 with a 4.24 ERA, giving up 11 runs in 23 1/3 innings. Gary Sanchez had two home runs in 15 at-bats against Archer last season. After some initial success against Archer (his first at-bat resulted in a double) on Opening Day in 2017, Judge struggled against him in subsequent meetings.

Archer is not a road warrior, his road ERA is 4.97, as opposed to his home ERA which is 3.26. Look for the Yankee hitters to take full advantage of the home cooking today.

On the mound for the Yankees is Montgomery, looking to build on an excellent rookie campaign. Jason Cohen of Pinstripealley.com summarizes his 2017 season:

“For the year, Montgomery had a 3.88 ERA and 4.07 FIP as the fifth man out of a rotation…He was valuable as a 2.7-win pitcher with a solid 8.34 K/9 and impressive 2.95 BB/9, but also for holding up over the course of the full season. The 155 innings he provided proved to be a godsend for this team.”

He led all AL rookies in starts (29), strikeouts (144) and innings pitched (155 1/3) in 2017 and finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting. Montgomery had a solid spring training in which he posted a 3.43 ERA in six games.

He faced the Rays three times last season and posted a 3.99 ERA in three games with one no-decision, one win and one loss. He gave up one home run over 12.4 innings pitched.

Look for Montgomery to go at least six strong innings today and for the Yankee offense to get hot against Archer despite the spring chill in the Bronx.


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