Weekly Preview: TB @ NYY 8/18- 8/20; NYY @ NYM 8/21 – 8/23

There are a few reasons to panic going into the Yankees’ upcoming week of play, but not as many as it might appear from the outside.

Yes, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are hurt again.  But, after 2019’s #NextManUp situation, the Yankees proved on several occasions that they were capable of achieving 100 wins without both of them playing full-time.  However, perhaps even more disappointing than that news, DJ LeMahieu landed himself on the Injured List after playing the Red Sox on August 15th -- and LeMahieu was an essential part of that record and accomplishment.

Regardless, the Yankees have continued their roll through this shortened season.  They are fresh off a four-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox.  They are in first place in the AL East, with a 16-6 record and are 2.5 games ahead of the second-place Tampa Bay Rays.  Their lineup is so stacked that there are enough #NextMenUp to replace Judge, LeMahieu and Stanton.  On August 16th against the Red Sox, Aaron Boone placed Mike Ford at first base and Tyler Wade at second base.  Clint Frazier, who was called up earlier last week, was at DH.   Boone mostly made the right choices -- Ford went 2-for-4/1 run/3 RBIs with a home run.  Frazier went 1-for-4.  Oh, and Luke Voit hit two home runs in one game against the Red Sox on August 17th.  Casual.  Thairo Estrada and Aaron Hicks both contributed in the closing game with solo home runs. 

The offensive side of the Yankees certainly has a contingency plan (#NextManUp, the sequel?).  As far as the pitching over the next week’s series’, most of the matchups haven’t been announced, as par for the course over this unusual season.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 – Rays @ Yankees | First Pitch 7:05 PM | TV: YES Network, ESPN
Blake Snell (1-0, 2.08 ERA) vs Masahiro Tanaka (0-0, 2.31 ERA) 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 – Rays @ Yankees | First Pitch 7:05 PM | TV: YES Network
TBD (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs Gerrit Cole (4-0, 2.76 ERA) 

Thursday, August 20, 2020 – Rays @ Yankees | First Pitch 1:05 PM | TV: YES Network, MLB Network (Out of Market)
TBD (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs James Paxton (1-1, 7.04 ERA) 

Friday, August 21, 2020 – Yankees @ Mets | First Pitch 7:10 PM | TV: YES Network, SNY, ESPN
TBD (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs Rick Porcello (1-3, 5.76 ERA) 

Saturday, August 22, 2020 – Yankees @ Mets | First Pitch 7:10 PM | TV: YES Network, SNY
TBD (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs TBD (0-0, -.-- ERA)

Sunday, August 23, 2020 – Yankees @ Mets | First Pitch 1:10 PM | TV: YES Network, SNY, TBS
TBD (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs TBD (0-0, -.-- ERA) 

The Yankees have faced Blake Snell on this season already on August 7th, a matchup which resulted in a win for the Rays.  While he only stayed in that game for 3.0 IP, he allowed no hits, no runs, two walks and recorded five strikeouts.  The Yankees’ offense needs to stay on the upward trajectory they demolished the Red Sox with in order to beat Snell, but it can be done.  Mike Tauchman is 3-for-5/.600/1 RBI/1 K versus Snell.  Gary Sanchez is 5-for-19/.263/7 RBI/4 HR/11 K.  Aaron Hicks is 4-for-20/.200/3 RBI/1 HR/7 K.  Tauchman, Sanchez and Hicks will likely all be in the lineup in this series opener against the Rays, and while their track records might not be perfect against him, they’ve proven that they can hit him.

Every game counts in this season, but the series versus the Mets does not hold the same significance for the Yankees -- the Mets might be crosstown rivals, but they are not division rivals who are in second place right behind the Yankees.  While the Yankees swept the Mets in their exhibition games prior to the start of the season, the Rays beat the Yankees in three out of four games in their previous matchup.  The Yankees scored nine runs against Mets pitching on July 18th including Rick Porcello, whom they were familiar with after facing him during his time with the Red Sox.  Seeing Porcello again is, obviously, good news for the Yankees.  

Additionally, the Yankees kept the Mets from scoring any runs at all on July 19th.  The one situation in terms of pitching that the Yankees might need to be more careful of is facing Jacob DeGrom, whom they did not face in exhibition.  A start for DeGrom has not been announced by the Mets yet; however, in a three-game set, chances are good that the Yankees will face him. DeGrom is an ace, but Sanchez and Brett Gardner have both hit home runs off him over the course of their careers.  Hicks is 4-for-11 with two RBIs against him lifetime.

As far as Yankees pitching, Gerrit Cole is 4-0.  James Paxton seems to have found more of his stride, with a record of 1-1.  Masahiro Tanaka has yet to earn a pitching decision either way, but he touts a 2.31 ERA on the season so far.  

What to Watch For:

1.     Clint Frazier -- Mask and all, Frazier is becoming the surprise of the 2020 season.  After getting the call up to The Show following Judge’s trip to the I.L., he has made just six game appearances.  In those six appearances, he has hit home runs in two and is hitting .444. 
Photo credit: Sportsnet

2.  Gary and Gleyber resurgence -- At the risk of speaking two soon, Sanchez’ more recent performances have looked more promising than his slump earlier this season.  He hit home runs in three consecutive games.  The same can be said of Gleyber Torres -- while he has yet to hit a home run this season, Torres brought his batting average up from .161 on August 12th to .246 on August 17th.  He failed to record a single RBI up through August 12th and then, recorded three in two games.  He went 2-for-3 against the Red Sox on the 16th.

3.   Continued production from Aroldis Chapman – Chapman made his triumphant return to the Bronx on Monday night, pitching one inning, giving up just one run and recording two strikeouts.  It will be great to see him in the two upcoming matchups.  

4. Miguel Andujar -- It will continue to prove difficult for Boone to find a defensive spot for Andujar.  However, with Stanton sidelined, it will be an easy fit to put Luke Voit to first base, give Ford a day off and have Andujar play at DH (though he did play at LF on Monday night).  On a personal level, I have missed Andujar’s spirit and offensive contributions, but not enough to see him replace Gio Urshela at 3B.

5.   Jonathan Holder -- Okay, we get it.  The Yankees’ bullpen had been suffering with the absence of both Tommy Kahnle and Chapman.  That said, if I have to see Holder attempt to blow one more game, I will personally tweet at Boone to ask for Holder to be sent down to the Alternate Site when Chapman comes back.  It worked for Chad Green in 2019 when he spent a long time failing to find his focus.  The same could work for Holder, who has pitched five innings in the month of August and has been charged with four walks, three earned runs and seven hits in that time.  

6.   Will we see Judgment Day? -- It’s possible.  Apparently, Judge is ready to return...

On the heels of Monday evening’s 6-3 victory, sweeping both the Braves and the Red Sox, keeping their undefeated record at home and claiming six straight victories in a row, the Yankees are on track to have a good week, in spite of the absence of Judge, LeMahieu and Stanton.  But they need to be careful to stay hungry and not let their guards down.  The last time they lost a game?  The last time they faced the Rays.

Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson


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