SB Nation Blog
The Opponent in one sentence
The Yankees got off to a surprisingly strong start thanks to the first-half AL MVP, but they’ve fallen back to Earth thanks to rough performances from the rotation and implosions from the bullpen.
Red Sox 1, Yankees 4
Down, I guess. Just looking at their most recent games, they are very clearly trending down. They have been trending in that direction for a while, too, having lost 18 of their last 25 games and having not won a series since one that started on June 9. Of course, they also just had four days off so the small amount trends matter might be even smaller at this point.
7/14: Drew Pomeranz vs. TBD, 7:10 PM ET
With Chris Sale throwing on Tuesday in the All-Star Game, Pomeranz takes the first game for the Red Sox out of the break. The lefty has been phenomenal for the Red Sox of late and has stepped up as their second-most reliable starter. Whether or not that will remain the case all year is unclear at this point, but nothing he’s done lately suggests he’s ready to fall down the stretch. Since May 14 Pomeranz has a 2.75 ERA with over a strikeout per inning.
7/15: Chris Sale vs. TBD, 4:05 PM ET
Saturday is Sale Day, the best day of the week. After a strong performance in the All-Star Game and an even stronger performance throughout the first half of the regular season, the lefty is ready for a stretch run to get the Red Sox into the postseason. If he’s anything close to what he was in the first half, he’ll have a Cy Young award to go along with that playoff berth.
7/16: Rick Porcello vs. TBD, 1:05 PM ET
There is arguably nobody more important to Boston’s second-half success than Porcello. He hasn’t been anything close to where he was when he won the Cy Young in 2016, but they don’t need him to be that good. What they need him to be is someone better than the 4.75 ERA pitcher he was in the first half. The good news is he’s been solid of late and his last start was an eight-inning outing in which he allowed just one run.
7/17: David Price vs. TBD, 8:00 PM ET
Like Porcello, Price has been mostly disappointing when he’s been healthy in 2017. That said, he hasn’t been as disappointing and he’s been more solid of late than Porcello. Also like Porcello, there is an argument that Price is the most important player on the Red Sox in the second half. If he is able to command his fastball on the edges of the plate, he should be the guy we all expect him to be.
As you may have noticed, TBD is starting for the Yankees in all four games. Surprisingly enough, TBD is not a person, but rather shorthand for “To Be Announced.” As of this writing (about 5:00 AM on publish date), the Yankees haven’t announced their starters. I’m fairly confident in the four pitchers they will start, but have no clue on the order. So, below each one gets a write-up.
Masahiro Tanaka has been, by all measures, a disappointment this year. The righty came into the season as one of the more underrated starters in the league, but major lapses in command have led to a 5.47 ERA. He has been a little better of late, with a 2.84 ERA over his last four starts, but that includes a five-run, 4 1⁄3 inning outing. He threw a complete game shutout against the Red Sox early in the year and then allowed five runs in five innings in a later start against Boston.Tanaka features a sinker, a splitter and a slider.
Luis Severino has been New York’s best starter this year and was a first-time All-Star. He has big-time strikeout stuff (10.5 K/9) while improving his control from his younger years (2.3 BB/9 in 2017). This has led to a 3.54 ERA. He tossed seven shutout innings against the Red Sox earlier this year. Severino throws a high-90s fastball to go with a slider and a changeup.
Michael Pineda is one of the strangest pitchers in the league. He strikes out batters at a strong rate, limits his walks and keeps the ball on the ground. Despite all that, he gives up a ton of home runs and that leads to ERAs over four on a yearly basis. This year, he’s pitched to a 4.39 ERA. He’s been even worse lately with an ERA over nine in his last three starts with only eight strikeouts in 13 innings. He allowed just one unearned run in seven innings in his one start against Boston this year. Pineda throws a cutter, a slider and a changeup.
CC Sabathia has been pretty much the very definition of an average pitcher over the course of the season. He has a 3.81 ERA with just over seven strikeouts per nine innings, just over three walks per nine and exactly one home run per nine. He was hurt for a long stretch, and returned for one solid start before the All-Star break. The veteran also tossed eight shutout frames against the Red Sox earlier in the year. Sabathia throws a sinker, slider, cutter and changeup.
Jacoby Ellsbury was in my opinion, one of the most unfairly maligned Red Sox players of my lifetime. He was also possibly my favorite Red Sox position player to watch when he was at his best. Obviously, things have gone downhill for the outfielder since he signed his monster contract with the Yankees and he’s missed a bunch of time this season with concussion issues. He’s back now, and while he’s not worth his contract he can still make solid contact and use his legs to make some noise.
Aaron Judge is the first-half MVP referenced above and the most exciting player in baseball right now. The rookie outfielder is certainly playing over his head, particularly with a .426 batting average on balls in play, but he has great patience and the power of a Greek god. If he wasn’t a Yankee, he’d be someone we could all enjoy watching on a nightly basis. He is a Yankee, though, so stop being so damn good, Aaron.
Gary Sanchez was the Judge of the second half of 2016, but the catcher missed a bunch of time early in this season. Since he’s returned, his production has been overshadowed by that of Judge, but the Yankees’ backstop is phenomenal and has power almost as scary as Judge’s.
Brett Gardner has had a quietly strong year, with unprecedented power and plenty of ability to get on-base. He’s slowed down since a hot start to the year, but there’s some chance the break could get him back going.
Didi Gregorius was a Final Vote candidate for the All-Star Game. He provides strong defense at shortstop, and while he’s uber-aggressive at the plate he makes quality contact and has solid power for his size.
Clint Frazier was just recently called up, but the young outfielder has been showing off his absurd bat speed that generates big-time power when he connects.
Chase Headley is like a poor man’s version of Pablo Sandoval, in that he’s been disappointing but not nearly to the same extent. The Yankees could be in the market for a new third baseman along with the Red Sox this summer.
Aroldis Chapman and his insane fastball have paired up for dominant numbers once again in 2017 with almost 15 strikeouts per nine innings. As scary as he always is in the late-innings, though, he’s struggled of late and is prone to lapses of control.
Dellin Betances is very similar to Chapman, at least on the field. He’s long been one of the elite relievers in the game, and that hasn’t changed this year. Like Chapman, though, he’s struggled of late, particularly with control.
Tyler Clippard has been a disaster for the Yankees, particularly recently. He has an 11.68 ERA since the start of June with 13 strikeouts and 10 walks.
Chasen Shreve is the lone lefty in the Yankees bullpen for the time being. As is the trend in this bullpen, he can get plenty of strikeouts but also doles out too many walks.
Starlin Castro has been fantastic at the plate for the Yankees this year but has been out for a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury. He’s on rehab assignment now and could be ready at some point in this series.
Matt Holliday has been a big three true outcomes (strikeouts/walks/homers) hitter for the Yankees when healthy this year. Like Castro, he is rehabbing right now and could be ready for this series, possibly as soon as the first game.
Aaron Hicks has had a breakout year at the plate this season, improving in every area of the game. He’ll likely be out with an oblique injury until after the trade deadline.
Greg Bird has barely been able to play this season due to an ankle injury and may need season-ending surgery.
Tyler Austin went down with a hamstring injury shortly getting called up, and it’s unclear how much time he’ll miss.
Dustin Fowler suffered a major knee injury in the first inning of his first major-league game in a heartbreaking series of events. He’ll almost certainly miss the rest of the season.
The Red Sox should be able to get all four games in this weekend, though the first one could be a little shaky. There is rain in the forecast in Boston on Friday, but right now it looks like there will be a window of dryness when the game is supposed to be played. Of course, these things change quickly. As of right now, the rest of the weekend looks like it will be sunny and in the 80s.