Series Preview: New York Yankees @ Washington Nationals (5/15-5/16)
The Yankees will look to win their eighth series in a row as they head into Washington to face the 24-18 Nationals in a two-game series. This is the Yankees’ second interleague matchup of 2018, and the first one that will result in Aaron Boone having no DH spot in his lineup. The Nationals are hot as they are 8-2 in their last ten games, but the Yankees will look to halt their momentum.
Game One: May 15, 7:05 PM EST
Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.66 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 2.22 ERA)
TV Network: YES
Taking the ball for the Yankees in game one is Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka snapped his three-game quality start streak in last outing against Boston. He didn’t look sharp, but his previous three outings were all promising, so this game will all depend on which Tanaka shows up for the Yankees. The Nationals don’t have a ton of home run hitters, but players like Harper, Adams, Rendon, and the newly recalled Mark Reynolds have a lot of power and could make Tanaka pay if he does not locate his pitches. The only player with significant at-bats and success against Tanaka is Matt Wieters, but he just recently landed on the DL.
Gonzalez is in the midst of his second consecutive solid season for the Nationals. He struck out eight Padres in his last start to lower his season ERA to 2.22. The thing to watch with Gonzalez is his walks. He has a subpar 1.34 WHIP and has walked at least two batters in each of his last six starts. The Yankees are one of the most patient teams in baseball and need to work Gonzalez early and make him pay for his lack of command. Brett Gardner, Giancarlo Stanton, and Neil Walker are a combined 11-for-58 off Gonzalez with three XBH’s.
Game Two: May 16, 7:05 PM EST
CC Sabathia (2-0, 2.23 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (7-1, 1.69 ERA)
TV Network: YES
CC was quietly one of the best pitcher in the American League over the season’s first quarter of games. He had his first clunker of the season last time out against Boston as he was very hittable and not hitting his spots. Sabathia has been a rock in the rotation all season and has not given the Yankees many signs to indicate why that would change anytime soon. Howie Kendrick is a .417 hitter against Sabathia in 24 career at-bats, so expect to see him in the lineup.
|Photo Credit: USA Today Sports|
The Yankees were originally scheduled to face RHP Tanner Roark, who is a solid starting pitcher, but not even close to caliber of the reigning CY Young winner, Max Scherzer. Mad Max is off to another absurd start and currently leads the National League in wins, games started, CG, SHO, WHIP, K, ERA+, and FIP. In a nutshell, he has been terrific and will be the ultimate test for the Yankees powerful lineup and fiery youngsters. The Yankees as a team do not have a lot of success against Scherzer in the past, but Walker and Stanton each have a few homers against him in 41 combined at-bats. The Yankees will likely need to work up his pitch count and try to get to the bullpen.
Players to Watch
The Nationals are a familiar foe for Stanton, so it should be interesting to see how his bat plays against his past division “rival,” the Marlins were not really competitive to be a rival. Stanton has also flashed signs of heating up with his two-homer game against Boston and his four-hit game against Oakland.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
On the opposite side of the coin is Didi Gregorius who has one hit in his past 30+ at-bats. His average has fallen to .260 and his OPS to .897, which are not terrible marks, but are a far cry from his early season success. Didi has been notorious for hitting good pitching, so maybe this series will be the resurgence of his solid 2018 campaign. If not, the Yankees may have to move him in the batting order.
The future Yankee, sarcasm intended, was off to a phenomenal start to begin the season and should be menace for Yankees’ pitching. Harper leads the NL in walks and long balls, but recent struggles have resulted in him not accumulating a solid batting average as it sits at .237. This could be explained by a lack of good pitches to hit, but if this tells me anything, it means the Yankees should attack Harper with precisely located strikes to avoid the long ball and free passes.
|Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports|
The former Yankee, Reynolds was signed to a minors deal by the Nationals and was recalled prior to last night’s contest and did not disappoint. He hit two homers on the national stage, and carried the Nationals offense on Sunday Night Baseball. Reynolds is playing with something to prove after a solid season with the Rockies landed him no contract, and is one of the biggest power threats in the Nationals’ lineup.
Both of these teams project to be playoff teams at the season’s end and are two of the more talented teams in their respective leagues. Could we be watching a potential World Series matchup? It is too early to tell, but the intensity of these baseball games should be high given the talent on both ball clubs. The Yankees could make a really big statement if they are able to pull out both of this series with a two-game sweep.
Article by: Ryan Thoms
Follow @RyanThoms_ Follow @BronxBomberBall