Series Preview: New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles (5/20 - 5/23)
The Baltimore Orioles have, so far this season, proven an easy opponent -- as well they should be.
Of course, going into the season as the 2019 Yankees' first opponent of the year, the talk across the world of sports news was that the Orioles were in possession of one of the worst teams in MLB. With a record of 15-31, and after dropping their most recent game 10-0 to the Cleveland Indians, they're certainly proving it.
While it's been an awfully convenient set of circumstances that has led the Yankees to easy teams in the midst of their unprecedented injury woes, the Orioles are beyond just an easy team. They're terrible -- and even the "replacement" Yankees (who are proving to be quite the surprise force) have no excuse for losing. In looking at the pitching matchups, there's only further evidence to the point that the Yankees should breeze through this series. They've managed to make it to first place in the A.L. East following their 13-5 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on May 19; they should be able to beat the easiest competition in the division.
Game One, Monday, May 20, 7:00PM EST
JA Happ (3-3, 4.44 ERA) vs. David Hess (1-5, 5.58 ERA)
The Happ that fans and teammates alike are starting to see in 2019 finally looks a bit more like 2018 Happ. He was awarded the win in three of his last four starts, and made it through at least 5.0 IP in all four. By comparison, Happ was pulled from the game after not much more than 4.0 IP in his very early 2019 starts. In addition, he's recorded 15 Ks in just those last four starts. It's tough to say if he's finally found his form, but there's reason to feel more hopeful for a better year from Happ based on recent outings. Fortunately (for both Happ and for the Yankees' offense), his opponent in this series isn't exactly worthy.
David Hess' numbers speak for themselves -- a 5.58 ERA is even higher than Happ's, which takes into account his early season losses. Offenses across the American League have thrown up huge numbers against Hess, with final scores in games in which he's started this season sounding a lot like 15-3, 8-1 and 12-2. What's more, the Yankees have faced Hess three times just in 2019 alone, and they've come with a vengeance in each appearance. In fact, Hess' last start on May 15 was against the Yanks, and they took away a 5-3 win. Needless to say, the Yankees' shouldn't have a difficult time facing Hess.
Game Two, Tuesday, May 21, 7:05PM EST
Domingo German (8-1, 2.50 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (4-2, 4.10 ERA)
I'm sure I'm not alone in my opinion that Domingo German has been the surprise of the 2019 season for the Yanks. Again, his numbers speak for themselves, but to re-iterate a bit: in 10 starts so far this season, German has only recorded one loss, and one instance in which the decision was not awarded to him. His remaining eight appearances all resulted in wins. He's already recorded 52 Ks this year alone, not too shabby for a kid who rode the SWB Express on the regular in 2018. This week, I noticed German heralded on Yankees Twitter as "Our Ace," and I'd have to agree with that opinion, too. That said, he obviously shouldn't have any difficulty against the 15-31 Orioles.
Andrew Cashner, on the other hand, may have an overall winning record so far this season; however, both losses come at the hands of the Yankees. In those two losses combined, he's allowed 10 hits, eight runs (both of them earned), two home runs and he's walked six. Additionally, he's only recorded 10 Ks, seven of them in the second of these two games. More good news? The newly-healthy Aaron Hicks is 6-for-16 against Cashner. DJ LeMahieu is 7-for-22. Kendrys Morales is 7-for-14. I'll just leave that there.
Game Three, Tuesday, May 22, 7:05PM EST
CC Sabathia (2-1, 2.97 ERA) vs. Dan Straily (1-3, 8.51 ERA)
Most of CC Sabathia's 2019 outings have resulted in him not being awarded any decision; due to his age and his most recent rehab, it's understandable that he hasn't been able to last more than 5.0 or 6.0 IP. He has not faced the Orioles yet this season due to his late return, and his spot in the rotation just didn't come up upon the most recent Yankees/Orioles match-up. So, it's a bit difficult to predict how he'll do, save for the fact that the Orioles have been just that weak. Collectively, the Orioles are 38-for-148 against CC, resulting in a .257 average. It's not bad... but it's not great.
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However, it's clear just from the above numbers that CC's opponent is the weaker of the matchup. Dan Straily's 8.51 ERA is nothing at all to write home about. He has logged one win, two no-decisions... and three losses. He hasn't made it more than 5.0 IP so far this season. And in his first appearance in the 2019 season, he only pitched 1.1 IP against... the Yanks. So, it's a pretty safe bet that the current Yankees' offense will be able to yank Straily out of the game in short order. If they do it in the same manner as they did back in April, they'll earn something similar to five runs off five hits over just that 1.1 IP.
Game Four, Wednesday, May 23, 12:35PM EST
Masahiro Tanaka (3-3, 3.09 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (2-5, 4.66 ERA)
Masahiro Tanaka is textbook. Again. His 3-3 record proves it; he'll come out for one outing earning strikeout after strikeout, and in the next outing, he'll only last 4.0 IP. When Tanaka is good, he's not just good -- he's great. But when he falls apart, it's apparent. His consistency continues to be an issue that was never resolved from the 2018 season and prior. There is, however, good news here; one of Tanaka's victories so far this season came thanks to a weak Orioles' offense. On March 28, the Yanks defeated the Orioles 7-2 and Tanaka struck out five Orioles over 5.2 IP. Not to mention, the Orioles have collectively hit 24-for-98 lifetime against Tanaka, totaling out to a .245 average. Again -- not awful, but also, not so great. If Tanaka has a chance to have one of his good days, the odds are good against this team. Of course, Tanaka's start is pending he stays healthy; he exited the game during his last start on May 18 due to a bruised shin. Aaron Boone hopes he won't miss his start. Ideally, he'll come back in full health, but Boone needs to be ready to yank him from the game early should he not return at peak performance.
But, once again, the Orioles' starting pitcher is the weaker pitcher of the matchup, even if Tanaka isn't functioning with his best stuff. Tanaka's 3.09 ERA is still a far cry from Dylan Bundy's 4.66. Bundy dropped four straight starts in April, not picking up a win on the 2019 season until May 4. One of those four starts was against the Yankees on April 6. There is one important stat to note as it relates to this matchup; the Orioles did come to win the game against the Yankees in Bundy's first appearance this season on March 31. However, the decision was not awarded to Bundy -- he only went 3.2 IP before he gave up three runs to the Yankees' offense in the 4th inning. Did the Orioles win the game? Yes... but the Yankees still hit Bundy, which means they can very well hit him again.
Aside from having an easy opponent in this series both offensively and in terms of pitching matchups, the Yankees can look forward to continued production from players who have started the season on the IL, or spent time on it since the season started. Hicks is only four games in following his time on the IL, and came out literally swinging against the Rays on May 19 with a game-tying two-run homer. The Yanks' lineup can also expect continued greatness from their offensive surprises -- namely Gio Urshela (who hopefully won't have to miss any games after leaving the game on May 19 due to a left knee contusion), Thairo Estrada, Morales and Cameron Maybin. Additionally, Luke Voit is starting to come out of his 4-for-24 slump as he has recorded three RBIs in his last eight appearances. LeMahieu continues to do great work, currently hitting .312 with 22 RBIs on the season.
Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson
Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson