MLB: Rays’ Zach Eflin looks to maintain dominance of Yankees

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Few pitchers have dominated Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees the way Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Zach Eflin has.

Eflin will look to continue that trend when he takes the mound on Wednesday night against the visiting Yankees in the middle contest of a three-game series.

Eflin (5-5, 4.19 ERA) is 3-1 in six career starts against the Yankees with a 1.54 ERA, the second-lowest ERA by an active pitcher with at least 25 innings pitched against New York. Only the Toronto Blue Jays’ Chris Bassitt (0.82) has enjoyed more success against the Yankees in recent years.

Eflin tossed six shutout innings against New York on April 20 but did not factor in the decision because the game remained scoreless until Tampa Bay won 2-0 in 10 innings.

In his past three starts against the Yankees dating back to Aug. 1, Eflin has allowed just two runs over 18 innings while striking out 22 and walking one.

“I think I pretty much treat every team the same,” Eflin said after his latest effort against New York. “Just go out there, be competitive and see where it takes you.”

Eflin has also handled Judge with ease. The 2022 American League MVP is just 1-for-12 against Eflin with eight strikeouts, including six consecutive whiffs dating back to Aug. 25.

“Make sure he doesn’t make contact with the ball,” Eflin said of his simple strategy against Judge. “That’s really just the game plan the entire time facing him.”

Eflin won his most recent start, against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, despite giving up six runs (five earned) and seven hits over five-plus innings. He benefited from some much-needed run support in a 10-8 victory.

The Yankees are getting desperate for a win after dropping the series opener 5-3 on Tuesday. They have lost six of seven and 17 of 23 to fall three games back of the first-place Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.

“Thankfully, we got out of the gates really strong.” said New York general manager Brian Cashman, who met with reporters before the game on Tuesday. “Hopefully, that cushion will allow us to work through this. Hopefully, sooner than later, because it’s gone long enough, but it’s been a tough stretch for us.”

Cashman said the team is open to a number of options heading into the July 30 trade deadline.

“We definitely have areas to improve upon, and we’ll do our best to do so,” he said.

Yankees left-hander Carlos Rodon lost his fifth consecutive start on Tuesday, and New York plans to send another struggling starter to the mound on Wednesday, Marcus Stroman (7-4, 3.58 ERA).

The veteran right-hander took the loss in his latest outing, when he allowed five runs and five hits in five innings during an 8-4 setback against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. Stroman is 1-2 with a 6.43 ERA in his past four starts.

Stroman has made 17 starts in his career against the Rays, going 6-8 with a 4.59 ERA. He hasn’t opposed Tampa Bay this year.

–Field Level Media

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