Weekly Preview – ATL @ NYY 8/11-12; BOS @ NYY 8/13-16

The Yankees come into this week ice cold and looking for a rebound.  After a week that saw them drop five of seven games on the road against the Phillies and Rays, while seeing their AL East lead shrink to just two games, the Yankees return home for the start of a nine-game homestand looking to get back on track. Game against the Braves and Red Sox are on tap this weekend.

Photo Credit: Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports

The bats went ice cold over the weekend in Tampa Bay, as the Yankees lost three of four games to the Rays, scoring a combined seven runs in the three losses.  Pretty inexcusable, and just about every hitter in the lineup would tell you how disappointed they are in themselves and the team, but these guys have short memories and maybe a little bit of home cooking is what the offense needs to get fired back up.  The loss of Giancarlo Stanton to a hamstring strain will hurt, but this team has enough pop in the lineup to get going in a hurry.  The Yankees haven’t yet announced a full-time replacement on the 28-man roster for Stanton (Estrada got called up for Sunday’s game, but only because he was already on the team’s taxi squad and already in Tampa), however, all indications point to it being Clint Frazier.

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post


Tuesday, August 11, 2020 – Braves @ Yankees | First Pitch 7:05 PM | TV: YES Network

Touki Toussaint (0-0, 6.08 ERA) vs. Jordan Montgomery (1-1, 5.59 ERA)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 – Braves @ Yankees | First Pitch 7:05 PM | TV: YES Network

Huascar Ynoa (0-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (0-0, 1.17 ERA)

 

Friday, August 14, 2020 – Red Sox @ Yankees | First Pitch 7:05 PM | TV: YES Network

TBD vs. Gerrit Cole (3-0, 3.22 ERA)

Saturday, August 15, 2020 – Red Sox @ Yankees | First Pitch 7:07 PM | TV: FOX

Nathan Eovaldi (1-1, 4.09) vs. James Paxton (0-1, 7.84 ERA)

Sunday, August 16, 2020 – Red Sox @ Yankees | First Pitch 7:08 PM | TV: ESPN

TBD vs. JA Happ (0-1, 10.29 ERA)

Monday, August 17, 2020 – Red Sox @ Yankees | First Pitch 7:05 PM | TV: YES Network, MLB Network

Martin Perez (2-2, 3.38 ERA) vs. TBD


Despite losses in three of four games against Tampa Bay, the Yankees got some encouraging outings out of Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton, and both will look to build upon those this week in their respective starts.  Paxton’s late fizzle led to Sunday’s walk-off loss, but he was dominant in his first six innings despite still not having his mid-to-upper 90s fastball.  Tanaka was brilliant in five innings on Friday night but received no run support in a game the Yankees ultimately lost 1-0.

 

What to Watch for?:

1.       Hello, offense, can you hear me? – To say the offense has been in a slump would be an understatement.  The Yankees scored just two unearned runs in seven innings against Tampa relievers on Sunday after Charlie Morton was lifted early. Not much else to say about that.  The team went 0-for-8 with RISP and left nine men on base on Sunday, just two days after being shutout while mustering just two hits and going 0-for-5 with RISP.  The team is too home run or bust right now, and the homers aren’t coming, so they’re not scoring nearly enough to win games. That cannot linger into this week.  Against a Braves’ rotation that has been decimated by injuries to start the 2020 season, this might be the perfect opportunity for things to get back to normal.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

2.      JA Happ on life support – Everyone knows about Happ’s struggles in 2019, but he looked like a totally different pitcher in Spring Training.  Unfortunately, that pitcher disappeared and the old Happ is back.  In his two starts this season, the lefty has managed to go only seven combined innings, while giving up eight runs, and perhaps most concerning – six walks in his latest appearance.  It’s still early and there’s time to right the ship, but right now Happ’s ERA is an unsightly 10.29 and his WHIP is a horrific 2.14.  If he cannot fix things soon, the Yankees will have to seriously look into moving him to the bullpen and acquiring another starter they can trust come October.

3.      Containing Acuña – Ronald Acuña, Jr. will come to the Bronx scorching hot, blasting three home runs in Sunday’s doubleheader sweep over the Phillies.  Although Acuña hasn’t exactly blown anyone’s doors down to start the season, Sunday’s performance is a reminder of just how talented the young phenom is and how quickly he can take over a game.

Photo Credit: Rich Schultz/Getty Images

4.      Rivalry renewed – The Yankees just swept the Red Sox two weeks ago in the Bronx, but Boston will return to Yankee Stadium again for four more in a wraparound series beginning Friday night through next Monday.  Boston has won three of five since they left New York and hosts Tampa Bay this week in another critical division matchup before their return to the Bronx.  While Boston isn’t expected to be a serious threat this season, they are currently on the cusp of a playoff spot, and the Yankees will want to do everything in their power to bury the Sox before the season reaches it’s midway point later this month.


While the Yankees still occupy the top seed in the AL East division, this past week was a brutal reminder how much every game means in a 60-game reduced season.  The 2-5 record this past week was equivalent to a 5.4-13.5 game slide in a normal 162-game season.  That kind of stretch might destroy some teams’ playoff hopes, but the Yankees started off 8-1 to provide them a cushion for a losing streak like this.   It cannot continue, however, as the Rays have closed the gap in the division race and at the ¼ mark of the season, the Yankees lead in the division is far from safe.


Preview by: Andrew Natalizio

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