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Series Preview - Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

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Time to start winning some games.

  • The Yankees have already clinched the AL East division. New York started the month a half game behind the Red Sox and now, thanks to an unprecedented 5-16 month, find themselves seven up with six to go. Game, set, match, Girardi and pals. 
  • Meanwhile, Francona's Fellas have been floundering like fresh fish in a furnace. (fsorry) A five win month sounds fine if the month is only a week old, but we're going on week four here. As Dustin Pedroia said, (paraphrasing) championship teams don't go 5-16. Then again, the Sox won't be 5-16 when the month is over. They have six games left to avoid what would be a monumental collapse. I mean that literally, by the way. The Yankees will build monument if the Sox complete this mess of a month by missing the playoffs.
  • The Yankees are exploring building a new stadium. Reports say it will feature eight seats, all of which will cost $10 million per game. It is slated to be built in Central Park, the remainder of which will be turned into a deluxe parking lot. Said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, "What?"
  • The Sox are fortunate in one way, however. They're facing the Yankees who, smartly, are very cognizent of the facts that, 1) they don't need to use their best players as they already have the division in their back pocket, and 2) the way the Red Sox are playing, I'm sure they wouldn't mind Boston making the playoffs. Don't buy it? Well, ask yourself this: do you think the Yankees would rather face Boston or the Rays? (Yes, I know they won't face each other in the first round, put your pens down.)
  • Joe Girardi's binder has thrown it's considerable weight behind Michele Bachmann.
  • Per Peter Abraham of the globe, since September, the Red Sox have received three quality starts (defined as a pitcher going six innings and giving up three or fewer runs). Three. In eighteen tries. Boggles the mind. My mind is officially boggled. During that same period the Red Sox have won five games. They've won all three of the games in which they received a quality start. The other two wins came when the offense scored eighteen runs. No quality start + no eighteen runs = Loss.
  • Jorge Posada played first base last night instead of Mark Teixeira. This is similar to a eye surgeon replacing their laser with a claw hammer.
  • Despite the horrible record, the Red Sox offense has generally continued on at an elite level. I say generally because the overall production has been great. The Sox have the third highest wOBA in baseball in September, are tied for the fourth highest fWAR (with the Royals so you know we're dealing with a small sample size here), and are fifth in wRC (all stats per Fan Graphs). This isn't the offense of a team in total collapse. 
  • C.C. Sabathia is going on a doughnut run. Anyone want anything?
  • Somehow the Red Sox don't have the worst pitching by ERA this month. Their 5.98 is less than the Other Sox 6.14. However, when you just look at starters, well, that's when things get really ugly. The Red Sox 6.82 ERA is more than a half run higher (0.63 to be exact) than the second worst Pirates (they sure fell back to earth, huh). 
  • The Red Sox have the advantage in the starting pitching category in two of the three games. It's shocking but somehow Tim Wakefield is probably better than A.J. Burnett. At the least it's a draw of suckitude. The Red Sox don't have anyone to compete with the modern day Aaron Small that is Ivan Nova. It's not even clear if the Red Sox will attempt to put a pitcher on the mound. They might be better off with a fourth outfielder.
  • At the start of this series, the Red Sox have an 87% chance to win the Wild Card per Baseball Prospectus and an 89% chance per Cool Standings. Yet all the mathematical machinations won't matter if the Red Sox don't win some games. Three of the remaining six games will be started by either Jon Lester or Josh Beckett. Those games are as much must wins as any game so far this year. 
  • Terry Francona's green tea of choice is now vodka.

Individual game notes after the jump.


Next Game

Boston Red Sox
@ New York Yankees

Friday, Sep 23, 2011, 7:05 PM EDT
Yankee Stadium

Jon Lester vs Freddy Garcia

Rain. The demons of hell will blow in from right field at 10-15 m.p.h. Game time temperature between -12 and 416.

Complete Coverage >


- The Red Sox have a big advantage in the starting pitching department here. And yet Jon Lester hasn't been on his game over his last two starts. He's given up eight runs in eleven innings during that time and the Sox have lost both games. Despite that, is there another pitcher you'd rather have on the mound for the Red Sox in this game?

- Garcia has had such a bad September you'd think he was pitching for the Red Sox. His ERA is 10.95, which is actually higher than John Lackey's 10.70. The fact that he's pitching in this series should clue you in as to how little the Yankees are actually trying to win.

Next Game

Boston Red Sox
@ New York Yankees

Saturday, Sep 24, 2011, 4:10 PM EDT
Yankee Stadium

Tim Wakefield vs A.J. Burnett

Rain. Thunderstorms. Hail. Locusts. Former Vice Presidential Candidates. Game time temperature 70.

Complete Coverage >


- This could very well be Tim Wakefield's last time pitching in a place called Yankee Stadium. That is somewhat sad.

- Burnett is the Yankee's John Lackey, except he isn't quite that bad. Also, his contract expires sooner. And his tats are totally rad. It's a shame his hair is no longer from the Judge Doom school of hair styling.

- Burnett has both a 5.26 ERA over his last three starts which, although very bad, doesn't seem so awful when compared to some of the Red Sox starters. Shockingly he also has 26 strikeouts in just 16 innings. Basically he strikes you out, walks you, or you hit a homer. He's a true three true outcomes pitcher.

Next Game

Boston Red Sox
@ New York Yankees

Sunday, Sep 25, 2011, 1:05 PM EDT
Yankee Stadium

 Anyone But John Lackey vs Ivan Nova

Thunderstorms. Rain. Winds blowing in from right field at 10-15 m.p.h. 65 degrees.

Complete Coverage >

- [Edit: Per Peter Abraham on twitter, John Lackey will get this start. Apparently the Red Sox were unable to coax Old Hoss Radbourn out of retirement] It's completely unclear who will take the mound for Boston in this game. The Sox attempted to trade for Chris Capuano from the Mets just so he could start this one game, but for reasons unknown the Mets decided against it. Capuano would not have been eligible for the post season roster, so you can see the degree to which the Red Sox are going to avoid another John Lackey start. And understandably so. I mentioned it above, but it's worth writing again: Lackey's ERA this month is 10.70. His ERA for the year is 6.49, which is 34% below league average (66 ERA+). Whether it's injury related or not John Lackey is just an awful pitcher right now.

- Almost as surprisingly as Lackey falling off the cliff this quickly we have Ivan Nova on the shortlist for AL Rookie of the Year. Nova has had a shockingly (I feel like I've used that word too much in this post, and yet I'm not changing it) productive rookie season. I'm not sure how sustainable his 3 run ERA is when coupled with a 5.38 K/9. In fact the more you look at his stats, the more they scream fluke. One thing to note about Nova, the higher the leverage the better, or I should say more effective, he's pitched.