Oakland Athletics vs. New York Yankees Series Preview (4/19-4/21)

The Yankees hope to build on Sunday's narrow 4-3 victory over the Mariners, as they welcome the Oakland Athletics to the Bronx for a three game series. Despite having gotten off to a hot start to begin the season, the Yankees offense has struggled tremendously when it comes to hitting with runners in scoring position. The Yankees enter this series in fourth place in the AL East, three games back from the division leading Baltimore Orioles. The Athletics, at 6-7, find themselves tied for second place and a game behind the Texas Rangers.

Keys for Victory:

1. HIT WITH RISP- This is perhaps the most obvious of what the Yankees must do in order to ensure a successful series against the A's this week. Brett Gardner's RBI double on Sunday snapped an 0-30 streak with RISP for the Yankees. The two losses against Seattle, and even the two losses in Toronto, were all winnable games. The Yankees had opportunities, however they consistently failed to get the big hit when necessary. This trend must be reversed.

2. Consistent Starting Pitching- Pineda, Eovaldi, and Severino have all gotten off to subpar starts this season. It would be huge if each of them could rebound this time around and give the Yankees some distance, lessening the workload on the bullpen. While Pineda and Eovaldi showed improvement in Toronto, they still could not escape giving up the big hit. Severino, on the other hand, has shown signs of a sophomore slump. A big game here could temporarily relinquish those worries.

3. Steller Relief Pitching- As expected, the bullpen has been this team's biggest strength. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have locked down the eighth and ninth innings. The emergence of Johnny Barbato, and reemergence of Chasen Shreve, provide a strong bridge to Betances and Miller. If Yankees starters can give the bullpen the lead after six innings, we have to be confident in our prospects for victory.

Game 1: Eric Surkamp vs. Michael Pineda (7:05 ET)

Surkamp has yet to complete five innings in his two previous starts, so we should expect to see the Yankees take a patient approach, forcing him to throw as many pitches as possible. As a result of this, he may make some mistakes that the offense can capitalize on. After a less than impressive season debut against the Astros, Pineda came back strong in Toronto. His 6.55 ERA is rather troubling, so hopefully he can have his first truly good start of the season on Tuesday.

Game 2: Kendall Graveman vs. Nathan Eovaldi (7:05 ET)

Graveman has yet to win a game this season, however he does have a 2.38 ERA, giving up just seven hits in eleven and a third innings. Eovaldi, who like Pineda struggled in his season debut against the Astros, looked dominant early on in his last start against Toronto, however like most Yankees starters, he fell apart as the game progressed, giving up huge home runs to Josh Donaldson Troy Tulowitzi. As we know, the Yankees lost this game.

Game 3: Rich Hill vs. Luis Severino (7:05 ET)

Hill hasn't completed five innings in his last two starts, so we should see the Yankees attempt to wear him down early on to force some mistakes. In my opinion, this is a big game for Severino. He struggled against Detroit and Seattle, leaving him in need of a huge confidence booster. A big game from Severino on Thursday should help get him on track.

To put it succinctly, the Yankees MUST hit with RISP in order to win. Hopefully this series is a turning point in what has been a very disturbing trend!

Article by Steven Eareckson

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