Series Preview: Chicago White Sox @ New York Yankees

The Yankees enter their 13th game of the season at 8-4, winners of seven consecutive games.  This week they'll welcome in the Chicago White Sox before hitting the road for games at Pittsburgh and Boston. The trip to New York is the last leg of a nine game road trip for Chicago, having previously played at Cleveland and Minnesota, going 4-2 over that stretch.  Chicago carries a 6-5 record into the series, seeking to hand the Yankees their first loss in over a week.  The Yankees will look to keep things going as they are enjoying one of their better Aprils over the past few seasons. 

GAME ONE (Monday, April 17 | First pitch: 7:10 PM ET)   
Derek Holland (1-1, 1.50 ERA) vs. Jordan Montgomery (0-0, 3.86 ERA) 

Fresh off a six inning, one hit performance in a win against the Cleveland Indians in his last start, Derek Holland will face off against the Yankees in the series opener.  Holland enters the game with a 1-6 career record against New York with a 6.59 ERA. Jacoby Ellsbury has the most experience facing Holland, going five-for-ten (.500) to this point in his career against the lefty. 

For the Yankees, rookie Jordan Montgomery will make his second career start after impressing over 4.2 innings in his debut last Wednesday.  Montgomery will look to flash his stuff again while ideally being able to last deeper in the game than the fifth inning.  Potential threats against Montgomery are righty power bats Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier & Avisail Garcia.  
Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

GAME TWO (Tuesday, April 18 | First pitch: 7:10 PM ET)  
Miguel Gonzalez (1-0, 4.22 ERA) vs. Luis Severino (1-0, 4.50 ERA) 

In the middle game of the series with Chicago, the Yankees will face familiar foe Miguel Gonzalez who has had a mixed bag in his career against the Yankees, mostly with the Baltimore Orioles.  In 14 career starts against the Yankees, Gonzalez has gone 4-4 with a 3.80 ERA.  His most recent start against the Yankees came on July 6 of last year in which he threw seven shutout innings. He has, however, pitched to 5.08 ERA in his career at Yankee Stadium. 

Hoping to build off a promising start on Thursday against Tampa Bay, Luis Severino will take the hill for the Yankees.  Severino was finally able to give fans a glimpse into his potential in his last start and will hope for more of the same against the White Sox.  In two career starts against the White Sox, Severino is 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA. Yankees fans will, however, remember that it was against the White Sox that Severino made his final start of 2016 prior to his injury/demotion. In that start, Severino lasted just 2.2 innings, allowing seven hits, four walks, and seven earned runs. 

GAME THREE (Wednesday, April 19 | First pitch: 7:10 PM ET)  
Dylan Covey (0-0, 1.69 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (1-1, 8.36 ERA) 

In the series finale on Wednesday night, White Sox rookie Dylan Covey will get his first career shot against the Bombers. The Yankees always seem to struggle against pitchers they're facing for the first time, so it'll be interesting to see how they fare against Covey.  In his most recent start, his MLB debut, on Friday April 14th, he held the the Twins to just one run over 5.1 innings, eventually taking a no-decision in a White Sox victory.   

For the Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka will make his fourth start of the season, coming off his first victory on Friday night against the Cardinals.  Tanaka gave up a long two-run home run to Matt Carpenter in the first but settled down nicely afterwards, which gave fans a bit of confidence that his rocky start to the season was more a blip in the radar rather than a sign of decline.  At this point, he is still the Yankees ace and should be expected to pitch as such. No current White Sox player has more than six at-bats against Tanaka, with only Avisail Garcia showing some success, going 3-for-6. 

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Newsday

Players to Watch: Yankees  

Greg Bird: Bird finally broke out on Sunday Night Baseball against the Cardinals and will look to carry the momentum of his first multi-hit game of the season into the White Sox Series.  Bird started off 1-for-26, but reached base all four times on Sunday night (3-3, BB) and smashed his first home run of the season.  If Bird can turn into the middle-of-the-order threat the Yankees expect him to be, the entire line-up is that much deeper and the Yankees' offense becomes that more dangerous. 

Matt Holliday:  Holliday missed the final two games of the Cardinals series with back stiffness.  Joe Girardi has indicated this is a minor injury and will not require a DL stint, but it's not yet confirmed whether Holliday will miss any additional games.  If he does, look for the Yankees to turn to either Chris Carter, or perhaps Aaron Judge in the DH slot.  If he is able to return to action, he should resume his cleanup spot in the lineup, pushing Ellsbury back to fifth.

Adam Warren: Adam Warren has very quietly had an ultra-impressive start to the season, retiring all 20 batters he has faced.  While he hasn't seen much game time over the last week, there's no denying his value to the Yankees' middle relief.  In the event any of the starters struggle and Girardi needs the bullpen to keep the score close, look for Warren to be that guy. 

Players to Watch: White Sox 

Tim Anderson: The young White Sox shortstop, fresh off a long-term deal signed in spring training, has struggled out of the gate this season to a .140 batting average with one home run across 43 at-bats, but he has the talent to be an impact bat and the speed to cause trouble on the bases. 
Photo Credit: Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune
Jose Abreu: Abreu, like Anderson, has struggled out of the gate this season, hitting just .183 without a home run, but has been a strong middle-of-the-order contributor for Chicago since his 35 HR rookie campaign in 2014.  

White Sox Bullpen: Chicago's bullpen is much deeper than just former Yankees closer David Robertson. The 2017 squad features Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahle, Michael Ynoa, former Yankee Anthony Swarzak, Nate Jones and Zach Putnam. All of the aforementioned relievers have had strong starts to the season, with only Nate Jones getting roughed up a bit (three ER in 6.1 IP).  Chicago relievers have already racked up 42 strikeouts this season in just 36.2 innings pitched. If the Yankees want to continue their winning ways going, they may need to do their damage early against Chicago's starters.

While I don't think it's realistic to expect the Yankees to complete another series sweep and end the homestand perfect at 9-and-0, I don't see why they shouldn't continue playing winning baseball and take two of three from the Sox.  If the starting pitching continues to hold up, if Greg Bird looks more like he did last night rather than who he was during his 1-for-26 start, and the Yankees' bullpen continues to be the best bullpen unit in the Major Leagues, they should have no trouble doing just that. 

Article by: Andrew Natalizio  


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