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Breaking: Yankees acquire LHP James Paxton in exchange for LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Erik Swanson, and OF Dom Thompson-Williams

The Yankees have made their first splash of the offseason by acquiring the Big Maple, James Paxton, from the Seattle Mariners. Fresh off his second-consecutive season at the top of the Mariner’s rotation, Paxton did not come cheap as the Yankees traded away their top prospect, Justus Sheffield, along with breakout prospects Erik Swanson and Dominic Thompson-Williams.

Series Preview: New York Yankees @ Kansas City Royals (5/18-5/20)

The Yankees will head to Kansas City to face the Royals after a two-game set against the Washington Nationals in which one game was suspended and one was postponed due to weather. It will be the first nine inning game the Yanks have played since their 6-2 win versus Oakland on May 13th. The Royals have the second worst record in the league, sitting at 13-30. The 28-12 Yankees will hopefully add three wins to their total after this series.

                                             Photo Credit: David Richard/USA Today Sports                                         




Game One: May 18, 8:15 EST
CC Sabathia (2-0, 2.23 ERA) vs Jakob Junis (4-3, 3.53 ERA)
TV Network: WPIX

Sabathia will make his eighth start of the season on Friday night looking to bounce back from arguably his worst start of the season last Thursday against the Red Sox (4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER). In a game where the Yankees will have everyone available in the bullpen, Sabathia should not feel pressured to work deep into this game. A solid five innings would be more than enough for Aaron Boone and the Yankees. The Royals projected lineup has six hitters in it that have hit .200 or lower vs Sabathia in their career. CC will come out with oozing confidence as usual.

On the other side, second year big leaguer Jakob Junis will take the bump. Junis has been up and down all season and you never really know what you are going to get from the young starter. He opened the season with back to back 7.0 IP, 0 ER starts, but has given up at least two runs in his previous six. Junis started one game against the Yankees last season, going 5.2 innings and allowing 6 runs on 7 hits. Aaron Judge sent one over the fence and will look to do the same Friday night.

Game Two: May 19, 7:15 EST
Luis Severino (6-1, 2.14 ERA) vs Danny Duffy (1-5, 6.51)
TV Network: YES

Yankees' ace Luis Severino will take the hill on Saturday night looking to put together another quality start. He has had six consecutive quality outings, and the Yankees have not lost one of his starts since April 10th. Sevy has never faced any Royal batter more than eight times and has only faced Kansas City once in his career. In that 2017 start he went eight innings, allowing no runs and just four hits. He will look to continue his hot streak.

The Yankees should be licking their chops to face the struggling Danny Duffy. Duffy has been awful this year, and that can be seen in his record and ERA. It took him eight starts to pick up his first win, and the Royals are 1-8 when he takes the hill. Duffy has given up four runs or more in five of his nine starts this season. As for matchups, Aaron Hicks has taken Duffy deep twice in 11 at bats. He did have two quality starts against New York last season, but this is a different Danny Duffy than the one from 2017.

Game Three: May 20, 2:15 EST
Sonny Gray (2-3, 6.39 ERA) vs Eric Skoglund (1-3, 5.58 ERA)


Photo Credit: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire


Yankees fans will hold their breath Sunday Afternoon when Sonny Gray takes the mound. Gray has won just 6 of his 19 starts after coming over from the Oakland Athletics in July of 2017. Underwhelming is an understatement when talking about his tenure as a Yankee. This season he has gone past the sixth inning one time and has pitched less than five innings in half of his starts. He is coming off a 5.0 IP, 9 H, 5 ER performance against his former ball club, but that was all the way back on May 11th. Boone elected to skip Gray’s scheduled start earlier this week because of postponed games and off-days.

Eric Skoglund will take the bump for the Royals. This is the 25 year-old's first full season in the majors, and through seven starts he is still looking to find his rhythm. His previous outing was the best of his season, as he went 7.2 innings and gave up just two runs. The stagnant Royals offense could not get him the win though. Skoglund can be pretty wild, giving up 2.2 BB/9 while plunking four batters this season. No one on the Yankees has faced Skoglund in his short career. 

Players to Watch

Yankees

Giancarlo Stanton
Stanton has been up and down all season but has started to pick it up over the past seven games. Over this stretch he is 10-for-25 (.400 AVG) with 3 home runs and 7 RBI. Another key stat? Just two strikeouts for Stanton during this stretch. It looks as if Giancarlo is starting to find his place in New York.

Aaron Judge
Judge has also been hot recently, and when he and Stanton are both clicking the Yankee lineup is scary good. Judge is hitting .333 (12-for-36) with 4 homers and 16 RBI in his last 10 games. He has also walked 11 times over this stretch, including a base on balls in his last six games. Judge has reached base in 9 of these 10 games. This is a good sign after the previous four games saw Judge put up a 2-for-17 stretch.

Royals

Jorge Soler
The young right fielder has been one of the only bright spots for the Royals offense this season. He is hitting .314 with an OPS of .936 in his first season as a starter for Kansas City. In his last 14 games Soler has turned it up. He is hitting .327 with 2 home runs over that stretch. He has reached base in 8 of the last 9 games. Soler combines power and speed and is quickly becoming one of the tougher matchups in the AL Central.


Photo Credit: Steven Branscombe/USA Today Sports


Mike Moustakas
As a free agent last Winter, Moustakas expected to sign a big deal, upwards of $20 million AAV, and that is why he declined $17.4 million qualifying offer from Kansas City in November. When the market became slow and interest was lacking, Moustakas ultimately returned to the Royals on a one-year, $6.5 million-dollar contract. He definitely has a chip on his shoulder from this and has played well this season. He leads Kansas City in home runs and RBI with 10 and 30 respectively.

The Yankees should look to sweep the second worst team in the MLB. The Royals offense has been pitiful this season, and Yankee fans should hope Sonny Gray can get back on track versus this offense. On the other side, Kansas City is throwing out three inconsistent starters. Look for the Bronx Bombers to pounce early and often on this team.


Article by: Shane Black

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