Series Preview: New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox

During the first half of the season, the Yankees and the Red Sox only faced off five times, with the Yanks winning four of those five games. A lot has changed since then however, as the Yanks were 34-23 after beating the Red Sox on June 8th, and now find themselves at 45-41 and three and a half games behind the Red Sox for the division lead. The Red Sox lost four of five before the break, but have been great at home this year, and will get to play in Fenway for the first time in the month of July.

 Game One: Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.65 ERA) vs. Drew Pomeranz (9-4, 3.60 ERA)
On Friday night in a game which features two left handed pitchers, Jordan Montgomery will get the ball for the Yanks, as he looks to build off his strong first half of his rookie season. Montgomery had the second-best ERA and WHIP in the rotation behind Severino, and went six or more innings in eight of his sixteen starts. Montgomery has not yet faced the Red Sox this season, and will hope to start the Yankees second half off on the right foot with another solid start.

Drew Pomeranz starts for the Red Sox on Friday night, and will hope to throw fewer pitches tonight then he did the last time he faced the Yankees, when he threw a whopping 123 pitches in only five innings. Pomeranz however still got the win after only allowing one earned run in that game. Pomeranz is on his fourth team in his young career, yet has a stellar 3.76 career ERA, and is currently tied for fifth in the American League in wins.

Game Two: Luis Severino (5-4, 3.54 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (11-4, 2.75 ERA)
In what should be a pitcher’s duel, two A.L All-Stars go at it, as Luis Severino will face off against the starter for the A.L in the All-Star Game, Chris Sale. Severino has rebounded in a big way after having an ERA over eight as a starter last season. This season, Severino made the All-Star team and has become the Yankees best pitcher in the rotation. At only 23 years old, Severino has already pitched in 50 games for the Yankees, and arguably his best game of those 50 was earlier this year in Fenway, when he threw seven shutout innings in April against the Sox. Severino has been shaky in last two starts after his gem in Chicago, so it will be interesting to see if Sevy can regain his form that got him on the All-Star team.

Photo Credit: AP Steve Nesius
If you have not watched Chris Sale pitch, I suggest you do, because he is downright filthy. Sale currently leads the majors in strikeouts with 178 in only 127.2 innings, and has a WHIP of 0.90, which is third in baseball behind Scherzer and Kershaw. Sale has been a great free agent addition for Boston, (unlike David Price and Pablo Sandoval) and is in line for a Cy Young award if he continues this ridiculous pace. Sale will most certainly be the toughest of the four matchups the Yanks will have to face, and one of the three lefties.

Game Three: Bryan Mitchell (1-1, 5.06 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (4-11, 4.75 ERA)
In a surprising change of events, it was announced that Michael Pineda is out for the season and most likely will need Tommy John surgery. Thus, the Yanks have called on Bryan Mitchell to make his first start of the season and to pitch the first game of a day and night doubleheader. Mitchell has 12 appearances out of the bullpen this year for the Yanks, yet did not find much success and spent a good portion of the year in AAA. Mitchell was 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA in nine starts in Scranton, and will now face one of the better lineups in baseball Sunday afternoon. Mitchell will need to give his team some solid innings to prevent the Yanks blowing through their bullpen early on in the first game of the doubleheader.

After winning a Cy Young award in which many disputed, Rick Porcello is back to his old self, hovering much closer to his career 4.24 ERA. Porcello has been, simply put, bad this year, and the numbers support that. Porcello leads baseball with 11 losses and 147 hits surrendered and has only won four games. It did appear however as if Porcello started to turn the corner before the All-Star break, throwing back to back solid games in his two starts in July. This should be must win game for the Yanks, as they need to take advantage of the man who has been giving away hits in bunches all year.

Game Four: Masahiro Tanaka (7-8, 5.47 ERA) vs. David Price (4-2, 3.91 ERA)

In a matchup of overpaid “aces,” Masahiro Tanaka will try to keep the ball in the park, as the Sunday Night Baseball spotlight will be on him, a spotlight he has shined in: just kidding, he has not shined in this spotlight. The last time Tanaka was on Sunday Night Baseball was Derek Jeter night, and Tanaka’s gift to the Captain was giving up four home runs and not making it out of the second inning! Tanaka’s last start before the break was awful, allowing two homers in as many innings, and all Yankee fans can hope for Sunday night is that Tanaka has a start like he did in Boston earlier this year, throwing a complete game, three hit shutout. With the extended rest Tanaka will get, there’s a chance he can do it again.

Photo Credit: AP Kathy Willens
 David Price has been a thorn in the side of the Red Sox and Boston media all year, trying to pick fights with the world it seems. Price has been decent since returning from injury, but still not worth anything near his seven year, $217 million dollar deal. Price will most likely be making $32 million a year as a 36-year-old in 2022, and has already shown signs of breaking down, much to Boston’s dismay. Price will hope to avoid Gary Sanchez in this one, as Gary has four home runs off Price in only seven career at bats.

Players to Watch: Yankees
Aaron Judge:
Here I go again, putting Aaron Judge as the first player to watch; but it’s impossible not to. Judge was on the national spotlight this week after his incredible derby performance where he was missing balls and hitting them upper deck opposite field and sending the balls he did square up a cool 500 feet. For those that believe in the “Derby curse” this will be an important series for Judge, as the detractors will immediately come out of their caves the moment Judge starts slumping anytime in the next month. Judge will face several lefties on the mound, and that should be no issue for him, hitting .345 with a .519 on base percentage vs southpaws this season.

Photo Credit: AP Kathy Willens
 Didi Gregorius:
Didi has struggled in the month of July, narrowly missing the All-Star team and hitting a lowly .138, but he may be facing the perfect team to get him out of his slump. Didi is 6-12 in games vs the Sox this season, and will get to face three lefty starts, and Didi, like Judge, enjoys hitting vs lefties. Didi has also been one of the Yankees best hitters on the road, hitting .322 in games away from the Stadium

Dellin Betances:
The world nearly got to see what Yankee fans have been witnessing for the past few weeks: Dellin Betances imploding and not being able to find the strike zone. It goes without saying that no one knows what’s wrong with the Betances, but he will not have any time to fix his problems, as the Yanks will need him to pitch well in this four-game set if they want to have any chance of winning at least three of four. Bryce Harper said it perfectly, that if you go up there and take vs Betances at this point, he will most likely walk you. If Betances continues to pitch the way he has pitched of late, it could be an ugly series in Boston, and will leave a lot of Yankee fans looking like Dellin did during the derby.

Players to Watch: Red Sox

Mookie Betts:
Mookie Betts was the one position player who represented the Red Sox in the starting lineup in the All-Star game, and rightfully so. Betts is one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, is a good baserunner with 15 stolen bases on the year, and has shown good power numbers as well, leading the Red Sox in home runs and RBIs. Betts is 3 for his last 21, and will try to get his season back on track vs the Yanks.

Dustin Pedroia:
Pedroia is putting together another stellar season in his twelfth year as a Red Sox. Despite being out for a good portion of June, Pedroia is still hitting .303, while driving in 41 runs with a perfect fielding percentage at second base. Pedroia does it all for the Red Sox, and they will need him and his career .293 average vs the Bombers this weekend.

Craig Kimbrel:
Kimbrel is the best closer in baseball right now, and the Yanks will need to avoid him as much as they can this weekend. Kimbrel, like Sale, has ridiculous numbers, striking out 68 batters in 37.2 innings, and going 23-25 in save situations this season. One of his blown saves came in the month of July, giving up a home run to Mike Napoli in his first pitch out of the bullpen. Kimbrel has had success against the current Yankee roster, striking out 20 in 30 at bats.

This will be a pivotal series in Boston, and may determine whether the Yanks will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. With Michael Pineda done for the year and C.C Sabathia not getting a start this weekend, it will be up to the Yankees young guns down the stretch to try and lead them to a playoff berth. Another thing to watch in this series is the state of the Yankee bullpen, and if the extended rest from the break has done well for them; or if it made things ten times worse.

Article by: Matt Luzzi


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