Series Preview: New York Yankees at Colorado Rockies (6/14-6/15)

The Yankees head to Colorado having just dropped two out of three to the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium. After getting themselves above .500 for the first time since April on Friday, the Yankees dropped the next two games. Having putting together a brief five game winning streak, the Yankees once again reverted back to their offensive struggles. Despite having relatively solid pitching performances from both Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, the Yankees offense couldn't get it together, scoring only one run in both games. Luckily, the Rockies haven't been much better this season. The pitching match ups may favor the Yankees in both games, however it's increasingly difficult to remain optimistic when it comes to this team.

Keys to victory:

1. Get the offense back on track: During the Yankees five game winning streak, the team appeared to be clicking on all cylinders. Unfortunately, they took a step back this weekend against the Tigers. The Yankees will be at a disadvantage this series because they lose their designated hitter, Alex Rodriguez, in the national league park. That being said, they can't count on Carlos Beltran to continue carrying the team by himself. He's been tremendous and I hope he continues playing this way, but the other guys must step up. The pitchers the Yankees are tasked with facing are not elite by any stretch of the imagination. This fact, in conjunction with playing in the hitter friendly Coors Field, should reignite an offense that has recently went dormant.

2. Continue the consistent starting pitching: Surprisingly, the Yankees staring pitchers have been fairly good as of late. CC Sabathia has continued to exceed pretty much everyone's expectations, by rolling the clock back to 2009. Masahiro Tanaka has pitched great this season, and even Michael Pineda has been much better as of late. Eovaldi and Nova, who will both be discussed in greater detail later since they are the starters this series, have also been good. If the Yankees starters continue what they've been doing, and the offense can somehow perform on a consistent basis, they should be in good shape. This may be wishful thinking though.

3. Get the ball to (no run) DMC: This should be self-explanatory, but I'll reference it yet again. If both of the two aforementioned events occur, the Yankees will be in a perfect opportunity to utilize their biggest strength. As we've seen, with a lead after six innings, the Yankees are almost unstoppable. Since Betances hasn't pitched since Friday, and both Miller and Chapman did not appear against Detroit, the trio should be in a position to pitch both games, should the Yankees have a lead after six innings of course. Having such a dominant weapon, and being unable to use it is rather annoying.

Players to watch:

1. Carlos Beltran: The Yankees MVP will hope to continue making his case for an all star nod this season. Beltran has, by far, been our best offensive player this season. Without Beltran, the Yankees would likely be out of contention right now. He's been amazing thus far, and since nobody else has stepped up, he must continue to perform at a high level if the Yankees are to have any chance this year.

2. Rob Refsnyder: With Chris Parmelee now joining Mark Teixiera on the disabled list, the moment Yankees fans have been awaiting has finally occurred. Rob Refsnyder will have a chance at maintaining a starting position, even though it may only be temporary. That being said, the Yankees recently signed Ike Davis to a major league deal, so we will likely see them splitting time at first for the foreseeable future. I'm excited to see how he performs when given consistent playing time. Since he's not a natural first baseman we can expect to see some defensive struggles, but hopefully his offensive production will more than compensate for some miscues in the field.

3. Nathan Eovaldi: I discuss Eovaldi in greater detail below, but I'd like to highlight the importance of this start. As of now, the Yankees can count on CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka for a solid start on any given night. It can also be argued that Ivan Nova fits into this category. Eovaldi almost earned my trust, but he quickly lost it with his last two starts. Straightening himself out, and getting back to where he was for the month of May will be key for this team moving forward.

Game 1 (6/14): Nathan Eovaldi (6-2, 4.42 ERA) vs. Jorge De La Rosa (2-4, 8.81 ERA)

After putting together a string of five great starts, many Yankees fans finally started believing in Eovaldi. Unfortunately, he has fell off a bit in his previous two starts. This game may be key to Eovaldi's confidence moving forward. Although the Yankees ended up winning the game 12-6, Eovaldi still gave up five earned runs for the second start in a row. I'm expecting to see Eovaldi come through with a bounce back start to get himself back on track. De La Rosa, on the other hand, has been not been very good this season, although he has been better of late. The Yankees should win this game rather easily, but, as we know, nothing is easy with this team. Although I'm predicting a Yankee victory, they could very easily drop this game.

Game 2 (6/15): Ivan Nova (5-3, 4.39 ERA) vs. Chad Bettis (4-5, 5.85)

Ivan Nova has pitched very well thus far. He's exceeded the expectations I set for him at the beginning of the season, and I must say I've been quite impressed. As long as Nova continues what he's been doing, we should expect six or so innings and roughly three runs. This should be acceptable on most nights, but the inconsistency of the Yankees offense worries me deeply. Hopefully, if Nova performs to the standard he's set for himself thus far the Yankees will be in a position to win the game. Chad Bettis has been hit hard as of late, and this should be great news for the Yankees as they will hopefully, be going for a sweep of the brief two game series. This is another game that I think the Yankees should win handily, however that will be completely contingent on the performance of the offense.

Conclusion:

I'm going to go out on a whim here and say the Yankees win both games in Colorado. On paper, both pitching match ups favor the Yankees, and the offense should enjoy the opportunity to play in Coors Field. On the hand, I could very easily see the offense revert back to its anemic identity and cause the Yankees to lose these two games. Nonetheless, the next few weeks will be key for the Yankees. Since they now hover around .500, they must take the next step. If they struggle to do this in the coming weeks, the front office will be tasked with whether or not to be sellers at the trade deadline. It may be too early to discuss this in further detail, but it's worth mentioning. The Yankees are in a position to finally establish themselves as contenders. Hopefully they seize the opportunity given to them and win these two very winnable games. If they do not, they will have taken yet another step backward, despite having finally gotten over .500, albeit for a brief period.

Article by Steven Eareckson

Click HERE to connect with me on LinkedIn!

Follow the BBB on Twitter: @BronxBomberBlog

Comments