The Tampa Yankees finished the first half of their 2016 season in first place in the Florida State League North Division, securing a spot in the postseason with a 42-27 record. The T-Yanks weren’t as strong in the second half, but there’s still tools of a team that can win the Yankees’ first FSL Championship since 2010.
Tampa had to deal with losing almost all of their lineup and rotation due to promotions and injuries, but with the number of additions to the team from trades at the deadline, the Yanks will still be putting out a lot of top performers as they head into their three-game-series against the Dunedin Jays.
Something to remember going into this series is that a lot of pitchers haven’t been on the mound in a game scenario in over a week due to all the cancellations in the Gulf Coast. The Yankees, Threshers, Flying Tigers, and Jays got the worst of it, even the Threshers’ playoff hopes were taken away as before the weather hit, they were still in playoff contentions. However, the FSL announced a majority of the games would not be made up. Including a double header match-up between the Yankees and Jays.
Headlining the playoff rotation (and affected by the cancelled games) will be two-time ‘Pitcher of the Week’ Yefrey Ramirez. He hasn’t pitched since August 29th, which means he’ll be pitching on a whole week’s rest. His last two starts were also against the Jays. In those starts, he pitched 13 innings, struck out 16, and gave up just one earned run. Yefrey and the Yankees will be playing the first game in Dunedin, but the next two will be home where they hold an 18-18 record.
The next two Tampa pitchers to face the loaded Jays’ lineup will be Josh Rogers and a player to be named. Rogers has been the Yankees’ strongest pitcher all season, and they are lucky to have him for the postseason as he very well could’ve been promoted to Double-A Trenton at any point this year. The Yankees have not announced their third starter yet, but it’s a good chance it could be Domingo German, who is now healthy.
As for hitting, it may be an even bigger question mark over pitching, but still, the talent has been there throughout the second half to take games over in an instant. Thairo Estrada has lead the Yankees through August, as there were just four games last month where he didn’t reach base. He also held an eight-game hitting streak towards the end of the month before it ending against Dunedin, and finished the season going 4-4 with three doubles.
The Yankees have also received substantial support from Jorge Mateo, Rashad Crawford, Zack Zehner, and Gleyber Torres throughout August. Though each struggled in the last series against Dunedin, all were able to end their seasons strongly. The outcome hasn’t been favorable for Mateo, but his plate discipline has been on the rise again. He will surely be the most important part of the Yankees’ postseason success.
Since June the Yankees have gone 4-6 against the Dunedin Jays, but Jay’s lineup has continued to get stronger. Yefrey Ramirez was able to quiet them down in each of his last two starts, and it’s ideal that he takes the mound in the first game of the series. Should the Yankees make it past Dunedin, they will play the winners of the FSL South division series. Those two teams will be the Bradenton Marauders and the St. Lucie Mets.