Weekly Preview: KC @ NYY 6/22-6/24, NYY @ BOS 6/25 - 6/27

 The question on everyone’s mind as we head into this week is: Are the Yankees back? 


If two come from behind wins to take two out of three against the Oakland Athletics are any indication, the answer to that question is indeed, yes.  Especially when one of those wins involved a game-ending, walk-off TRIPLE PLAY (the Yankees’ third of the year). 


The Bombers are facing a three-game set during the first half of the week against the third-place Kansas City Royals, who are currently playing below .500.  These games should be easy wins, but if Yankees fans have learned anything during this season so far, easy wins don’t even come easily to this Yankees team.  Complacency is dangerous.  But the true test will come as the Yankees face their storied rivals in the latter portion of the week. 


Here are the matchups, so far: 

 

KC @ NYY:

Game 1: Tuesday, June 22 | First Pitch: 7:05pm | TV: YES Network

Brady Singer (3-5, 4.76 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (8-3, 2.31 ERA)

Game 2: Wednesday, June 23 | First Pitch: 7:05pm | TV: YES Network

TBD (X-X, X.XX ERA) vs. Michael King (0-3, 4.08 ERA)

Game 3: Thursday, June 24 | First Pitch: 1:05pm | TV: YES Network, MLBN (Out of Market)

TBD (X-X, X.XX ERA) vs. Jameson Taillon (1-4, 5.59 ERA)

 

NYY @ BOS:

Game 1: Friday, June 25 | First Pitch: 7:10pm | TV: YES Network, MLBN (Out of Market)

TBD (X-X, X.XX ERA) vs. TBD (X-X, X.XX ERA)

Game 2: Saturday, June 26 | First Pitch: 7:15pm | TV: FOX

TBD (X-X, X.XX ERA) vs. TBD (X-X, X.XX ERA)

Game 3: Sunday, June 27 | First Pitch: 1:10pm | TV: TBS, YES Network

TBD (X-X, X.XX ERA) vs. TBD (X-X, X.XX ERA)

Of course, the remaining pitching probables will be announced throughout the course of the week.  Possibly the most important notable event based on the probables already announced is the beginning of MLB’s “crackdown on sticky stuff” on Monday, which has left one Gerrit Cole in the crosshairs of scrutiny.  All eyes will be on his performance on Tuesday evening, just one day into such crackdowns.  As such, the Royals will serve as an easy sample size; they have a collective lifetime .123 against Cole, are 10-for-69 and have recorded just two home runs and five RBIs.  Whether or not those stats are a result of “sticky stuff,” it’s tough to say, but I’m going to bet on Cole. 

With regard to Jameson Taillon… sigh.  During the month of June, Taillon has pitched a total of 10.1 IP over three starts.  He came into the month with an ERA of 5.10 and now holds an ERA of 5.59.  It’s almost understandable as he’s still finding his footing, but the third-place, 38-33 Yankees don’t have time for Taillon to find his footing anymore.  The good news here is a start against the below .500 Royals is a great opportunity for Taillon to… find his footing and never look back.  The Royals who have faced Taillon are 4-for-23 against him, with no home runs and one RBI; however, only five Royals have faced Taillon in their respective careers so we’re not looking at a large sample size.  Still, Taillon has a chance to turn it around in an appearance in which he doesn’t face division rivals. 

The sample size of Royals batters who have faced Michael King is even smaller: there are just two.  

What to watch for:

Scary Gary
Personal confession: I have never had much faith in Gary Sanchez; however, he’s proving me wrong of late.  His pinch-hit homer on June 16th coupled with his catching performance in that game (with Cole pitching, nonetheless) is just one example of his resurgence.  He came in clutch with another homer on June 19th, when the Yankees were trailing the Athletics, and contributed to what ultimately became a Yankees rally.  Finally, he contributed again with a go-ahead double on June 20th.  Sanchez came into the month of June hitting .202 with his job in question.  He is now hitting .237, and Kyle Higashioka is seemingly only getting time when Cole is on the mound (and even then, Sanchez has entered the game as a PH). 

Photo credit: New York Post

Look out for Luke
With Chris Gittens’ return to the RailRiders, it’s apparent that Luke Voit will be making a grand return to the Yankees’ lineup.  And thank goodness. The Yankees announced Luke's activation Tuesday before the game. 

Chappy Challenges
Aroldis Chapman appeared his usual, unhittable self at the beginning of the season; however, in his last two game appearances, he looks as though… he’s under the weather?  On the June 21 broadcast of the Moose and Maggie show on WFAN, Maggie Gray made sure to mention that in the midst of all of the Gary Hype, Chapman couldn’t find his slider -- and “lucked out” by getting out of trouble thanks to his teammates turning the Yankees’ third triple play of the season.  He also allowed two hits and a run in his closer appearance on Saturday -- and as a result of it all, his season ERA stands at 1.98.  For the average pitcher, that’s great.  For Aroldis Chapman, considering the absurd start to the season he had, it’s perhaps cause for concern.  In the postgame presser, Chapman did go on record stating he is dealing with a “fingernail issue.”  Let’s hope that’s all it is. 

A hopeful end to Frazier Fails
According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, “Frazier has seemingly wasted his last best chance to start for the Yankees.  He struggled for two months, but with Mike Tauchman traded, Aaron Hicks injured and Brett Gardner also ineffective, he kept getting at-bats.  Until Andujar began to hit like the near Rookie of the Year from 2018.” Additionally, Frazier missed a ball on Sunday in the field that he should have caught, so what was once Gold Glove-level talent appears to be fading.  Either Frazier needs to get better, or he’ll find himself continually out of the lineup. 


Overall, what will answer the burning question on Yankees Twitter of “Are the Yankees back?” is their performance against their storied division rivals -- who also happen to be in first place.  At the same time, they cannot afford to drop winnable games against the Royals.  The season is far from over, but as the calendar approaches July, the Yankees don’t have much time -- and they have to play consistently -- a feat which has eluded the squad so far this season.  In the paraphrased words of WFAN’s Sweeny Murti, when the 2021 Yankees are playing well, they are unstoppable… but when they are not playing well, they are abysmal.  This week might just be the week to end that pattern and make up the games needed to leave them in a better position in the AL East.


Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson
 

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