Series Preview: New York Yankees vs Oakland Athletics (5/11-5/13)

The red-hot New York Yankees, winners of 17 of their last 19, welcome the Oakland Athletics into the Bronx following a series win over the rival Boston Red Sox. Oakland comes into town sporting an 18-19 record after being swept by the Houston Astros earlier this week. The big storyline for this weekend’s series is Sonny Gray facing his former team for the first time since last July’s blockbuster trade that brought him to New York. Conversely, Dustin Fowler is expected to make his Yankee Stadium debut, just not in the way he envisioned when he was drafted by the Yankees in the 18th round of the 2013 draft.

Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

Game 1: Friday, May 11th at 7:05pm on YES/MLBN
Sonny Gray (2-2, 6.00 ERA) vs. Kendall Graveman (0-5, 8.89 ERA)

Sonny Gray gets to face his former team in the series opener coming off his two best starts of 2018. In his last two outings (at Houston and vs. Cleveland),  Gray allowed just four runs over 12 innings (3.00 ERA) while also picking up his second win of the season last Saturday against Cleveland. In that time, Gray has seen his ERA drop from 7.71 to 6.00, and his WHIP go down from 2.14 to 1.76. Now Gray gets to face an Oakland team which is middle of the pack in most offensive categories: 13th in runs scored, 12th in home runs, 13th in batting average and 13th in OPS. Gray overcoming his early-season woes would go a long way in transitioning the Yankees rotation from good to great.

Athletics vs. Gray:
Matt Joyce: 7-21, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB
Jake Smolinski: 3-7, RBI, R

The Athletics will recall Kendall Graveman from triple-A Nashville to make Friday’s start in place of the injured Trevor Cahill. Graveman was once viewed as a future piece of Oakland’s rotation after coming over from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson trade, but has struggled mightily this season. Graveman had an 8.89 ERA in 6 starts before being sent down to triple-A Nashville where he made two starts that weren’t much better (6.00 ERA over 12 innings). Prior to this year, Graveman had a career 4.02 ERA in 421 MLB innings, so Oakland will have to hope he returns to that form in a hurry.

Yankees vs. Graveman:
Brett Gardner: 3-5, 2 R, BB
Didi Gregorius: 2-7, HR, RBI

Game 2: Saturday, May 12th at 1:05pm on YES/MLBN
Domingo German (0-1, 2.66 ERA) vs. Andrew Triggs (3-1, 4.41 ERA)

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens/AP Photo

Domingo German takes the ball in game two for the Yanks after a dominating performance in his first MLB start on Sunday. In that game, German tossed six no-hit innings and struck out nine in a no-decision against Cleveland at the Stadium. If German continues to put together outings like that, the Yankees are not going to miss Jordan Montgomery (elbow) very much over the next two months. In his young career, German has shown an ability to miss bats, evidenced by his 11.68 K/9. This could play well against an Oakland offense that has the ninth most strikeouts in baseball.

Athletics vs. German
Matt Joyce: 1-1, 2B, BB

Andrew Triggs will be on the bump Saturday afternoon for the Athletics. The 29-year-old righty
has had an up-and-down season so far, but is coming off the best start of his 2018 campaign. He threw seven innings off one run, nine strikeout baseball against the lowly Orioles last Sunday in Oakland. Triggs made one start against the Yankees last year, allowing six runs (only one earned) over six innings at Yankee Stadium. In that game, Aaron Judge hit the only grand slam of his career to lift the Yankees.

Yankees vs. Triggs:
Didi Gregorius: 2-5, R
Aaron Hicks: 2-3, RBI, R, BB
Aaron Judge: 1-3, HR, 4 RBI (Only grand slam of Judge’s career)

Game 3: Sunday, May 13th at 1:05pm on YES
Luis Severino (5-1, 2.21 ERA) vs. Brett Anderson (0-1, 8.68 ERA)

The Yankees ace has been absolutely rolling lately. In his last five starts, Severino is 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA and 43 strikeouts. The dominating Dominican has not lasted fewer than six innings, nor given up more than three runs, in any of those appearances. With each outing, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore Severino’s ascension to top-flight MLB starter status. It has gotten to the point that you expect the Yankees to win every time he pitches, and so far, the Bombers are 7-1 in his starts.

Photo Credit: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports

Athletics vs. Severino:
Mark Canha: 1-3, HR, RBI
Jed Lowrie: 2-6, RBI   

In the series finale, the A’s will counter with Brett Anderson, who allowed nine runs (seven earned) in three innings against the Houston Astros earlier this week. Anderson made two starts against the Yankees last year, each with varying degrees of success. In May, as a member of the Chicago Cubs, Anderson allowed five runs and was only able to record one out in game two of the Yankees sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley. In October, Anderson threw five shutout innings for the Blue Jays in a game where the Yankees rested most of their starters. Oakland is the fifth team Anderson has pitched for since 2014.

Yankees vs. Anderson:
Aaron Hicks: 2-3, R
Neil Walker: 2-6, 2B, R

Position Players to Watch:
Didi Gregorius: After winning American League Player of the Month in April, things have not gone as smoothly for the Yankees shortstop so far in May. Gregorius is 5-34 with two extra-base hits and one RBI in eight games this month. In a righty-dominated lineup such as the Yankees, Gregorius’ left-handed bat is extremely important. Additionally, with Gregorius serving as protection to Aaron Judge, expect teams to pitch around the hulking slugger more often if Didi continues to struggle (Judge has six walks in his last seven games).

Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

Giancarlo Stanton: We have seen this before, but it seems like Giacarlo Stanton is on the verge of truly breaking out. Stanton went 4-11 with two home runs, four RBI and only one strikeout against the Red Sox this week. The one strikeout is a great sign, as Stanton had struck out 13 times in his previous 23 at-bats before the Boston series. Through 37 games, the reigning National League MVP has shown flashes of brilliance, especially in the power department, but it has been more bad than good. Hopefully Stanton is ready to finally get going now.

Dustin Fowler: Fowler, who made his MLB debut with the Yankees last June, suffered a gruesome knee injury trying to catch a ball in foul territory before he was ever able to register a big league at-bat. One month later, he was part of the three prospect package the Yankees sent to Oakland to acquire Sonny Gray. Earlier this week, Fowler got called-up and finally did register his first MLB at-bat, a line out. Now he will likely get to play his first career game at Yankee Stadium, and you can expect him to get a warm reception from the fans whenever that happens.

Photo Credit: Christian Peterson/Getty Images

Jed Lowrie: Here’s something you might not be aware of: Entering play on Friday, Jed Lowrie is the American League’s RBI leader with 32. The 34-year-old infielder, who is hitting .338, is coming off a solid 2017 campaign in which he hit .277 with 14 home runs and 69 RBI for Oakland, but this is his best start ever. Lowrie is currently on a 162-game pace of 36 home runs and 144 RBI. His career-highs in those categories are 16 home runs and 75 RBI. Lowrie is a career .293 (27-92) hitter at Yankee Stadium with one home run and 10 RBI.

Series Outlook: The Athletics may not be of the caliber of the Astros, Indians and Red Sox, but they are still a quality ball club, and one the Yankees struggled with mightily last year, going just 2-5 against their West Coast foe. With that being said, the Yankees have the starting pitching advantage in at least two of the three games, and anything but a series win would be considered a disappointment. Look for the Yankees to take this series and head into their series against the Nationals in Washington, D.C on a high note.

Article by: Jake Graziano


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