Series Preview: Yankees vs. Rockies (7/19-7/21)

The Rockies come into this series at Yankee Stadium struggling, going 2-11 over their last 13 games and now sitting dead-last in the NL West. Their struggles have been due in large part to the 5.44 ERA their pitching staff has, second-worst in baseball to the Orioles. The Yankees are certainly not the team you want to face when dealing with issues like they have. The Yanks head into the series with the best record in baseball at 62-33, eight games up on the second-place Rays in the AL East.

Photo Credit: Julio Cortez/AP

Game One: Friday, July 19, 7:05 PM ET (YES, ATRM, WPIX)
JA Happ (7-5, 4.93 ERA) vs. Kyle Freeland (2-6, 7.39 ERA)

The Yanks are once again looking for starting pitching in the trade market as we near the deadline and Happ is a large reason why. Expected to be a reliable fourth option, his struggles has forced the Yanks to look elsewhere for possible reinforcements. So far on the season, Happ has pitched career worsts in FIP (5.17), H/9 (9.2), and HR/9 (1.9). Facing an offense that ranks fourth in the majors in runs per game (5.49) headlined by superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado, this is a crucial start for Happ in seeing if he can provide a third straight stellar start for the pinstripes and hopefully get things going.

Freeland has experienced one of the biggest turnarounds from season-to-season that baseball has ever seen, but not in the direction you’d want. After turning in a breakout season in 2018, Freeland has taken a major step back this season. With 17 wins, a 2.85 ERA, and an 8.4 WAR, he finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting last season. He’s been so bad though in 2019 that the Rockies demoted him to Triple-A for a month before he returned Saturday against the Reds, only to give up nine hits and five runs across four innings in his first start back. Freeland’s allowed at least five runs in three consecutive big league starts dating back to May and has allowed at least three runs in eight straight outings. Although his strikeout and walk numbers aren’t dramatically different, his H/9, HR/9, WHIP, and ERA+ are all by far career worsts. Freeland’s FIP has also jumped from 3.67 to 6.14.

Game Two: Saturday, July 20, 1:05 PM ET (YES, ATRM)
Masahiro Tanaka (6-5, 3.81 ERA) vs. Antonio Senzatela (8-6, 5.79 ERA)

The 2019 All Star has been mostly stellar for the Yanks this season, except for a few shaky starts. Tanaka was named to the AL roster as an injury replacement, despite his ERA being in the high-3.00s and coming off a couple of bad starts. Heading into the break, he had given up 10 runs in his previous two starts, including a blunder in London against the Red Sox. Tanaka remains a very good middle-of-the-rotation option for the Yanks and will play a major role in how far they go in the postseason, especially if ace Luis Severino does not return.

The 24-year-old Senzatela is having nearly as bad of a season as Freeland in 2019. A surprise he even remains in the rotation at the moment, he’s given up a combined 15 earned runs over his last two starts in 9.2 innings (13.97 ERA). From those two outings alone, his ERA has jumped up nearly a full run. Senzatela has turned in just seven quality starts amongst his 17 outings on the year.

Photo Credit: Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports

Game Three: Sunday, July 21, 1:05 PM ET (YES, TBS, ATRM)
James Paxton (5-4, 3.94 ERA) vs. German Marquez (8-5, 5.12 ERA)

Paxton limped his way into the month of July with a 4.34 ERA after an outing where he couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning against his former team, the Blue Jays, in which he gave up six runs. Since then, Paxton’s put in three quality starts in a row in July, two against the division foe Rays. He’s pitched exactly six innings in each of the three starts, combining to give up 22 hits, but just five runs (2.50 ERA) while striking out 21. Paxton pitching to his potential would make this Yankees team even more dangerous.

Marquez had a very solid season in 2018 and looked primed to take the next step and become a star in 2019. Much like Freeland, he hasn’t done that and instead has taken a step back. Marquez has the most innings pitched, games started, hits, and earned runs in the NL. In other words, he’s been durable and given the Rockies innings this season, but hasn’t been too effective. Despite his 5.12 ERA, he still somehow has accumulated a 2.5 WAR along the way in 2019. He’s coming off arguably the worst start of any pitcher in baseball this season, as he gave up 11 hits and 11 runs across 2.2 innings to the Giants, seeing his ERA go from 4.45 to 5.12. Marquez isn’t as good as he was last year, particularly in his strikeout numbers as his K/9 has went from 10.6 down to 8.9, but he’s still a nasty pitcher when he’s on.

With two of the game’s premier offenses matching up in the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, it should make to be a fun, high-scoring three-game set.

Article by: Spencer Schultz


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