Series Preview: Yankees @ Mets (7/2-7/3)

The Yankees are the hottest team in baseball, and it is not even close. Coming off an incredible two-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox in Major League Baseball’s first series across the pond, the Bombers have won 13 of their last 14 games, outscoring their opponents by an average of 3.1 runs per game over that span. On this 14-game tear, the Yanks have put up an average of 8.2 runs per game. Their offense has been impossible to stop and is a main reason they hold a seven-game led in the AL East.

The Yankees will return to the States having six games left before the All-Star break. They begin with a two-game set against the crosstown rival Mets. The two met up for a two-game series in early June which resulted in a split. The Mets have been on the opposite wavelength as the Yankees over the past few weeks as embarrassing storylines on and off the field have caused them to go into full dumpster fire mode. The Mets come into this short series having lost seven of their last eight ballgames. The Yankees may have some jet lag, but there is no reason the hottest team in baseball cannot go out and take two games from the coldest club in the majors.

Photo Credit: Jim McIssac

Game One: Tuesday, July 2nd, 7:10 EST (YES)

James Paxton (5-3, 4.34 ERA) vs Jason Vargas (3-3, 3.66 ERA)

James Paxton will take the bump for the Yankees in game one having not pitched since June 26th as the Yanks have had three off-days in the past week to help compensate for the trip to London. The lefty known as ‘Big Maple’ has been inconsistent in his first half a season in Pinstripes. In his 13 starts, Paxton has given up one run or less in six of them. He has given up four or more runs in four starts.

Paxton was roughed up by the Mets in his June 11th start against them, going just 2.2 innings while giving up six earned runs. Mets young stud Pete Alonso took him deep as he gave up seven hits in this very short outing. Paxton is a power pitcher, yet he recorded just one strikeout against the crosstown rival. For the sanity of all Yankee fans, Paxton must have turn around start against a struggling Mets team.

Photo Credit: Jim McIssac

In year 14 in the league. Jason Vargas is having one of his best seasons yet. The old lefty typically just sticks to a fastball/changeup combo, but this season he has located his pitches very well. Vargas is coming off of a 6.1 inning start against the Phillies where he gave up just two earned runs while striking out ten. Like Paxton, he is getting an extra day of rest as that start was made on June 26th.

Vargas matched up against Paxton during that June 11th matchup, yet he fared much better than the Canadian. He limited the Yankee lineup to three runs over six innings which was good enough to get the win. Many of the veterans on the Yanks have faced Vargas over ten times, though, they have seen just moderate success. Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Hicks are a combined 17-for-62 (.274) with four HR and 12 RBI against Vargas. The heavily righty Yankee lineup should have a slight advantage against Vargas, the lefty.

Game Two: Wednesday, July 3rd, 7:00 EST (ESPN)

Domingo German (9-2, 3.86 ERA) vs Zack Wheeler (6-5, 4.51 ERA)

Domingo German is returning to the bigs after being on the shelf for nearly a month with a left hip flexor strain. His last start for the Yankees came on June 7th. Aaron Boone and the Yankees have been using bullpen starts in the place of German. Before the injury, he was far and away the best and most consistent Yankee starter. German had a decent rehab outing on Thursday for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He retired the first six batters he faced, but finished with a line of 4 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. SWB manager Jay Bell said German was “pretty doggone sharp”. The Dominican native has not faced anyone in the Mets lineup more than five times so he should have an upper hand in the early innings.

Photo Credit: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports

Zack Wheeler has been very inconsistent this year, though in his past two starts he has an ERA of just 1.38. Wheeler typically sticks to three pitches. He features a mid-to-high 90s fastball, a low 90s slider, and a curveball. When his game is on Wheeler mixes his pitches and locations very well. He has only faced the Yankees once in his career, and has not faced any Yankee batter more than six times, so essentially he and German are in the same boat. Wheeler has struggled with injury issues throughout his career, but he is on pace to pitch a full season for just the second year since he debuted in 2013.

Article by: Shane Black

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