SB Nation Blog
The opponent in one sentence
We know the Yankees pretty well right now, as they are a team with a good offense, a great bullpen and a solid if inconsistent rotation that is going to stick around this race all year long.
65-55 (4.0 games behind Boston)
Red Sox 5, Yankees 7
Up, slightly. These two teams just met, of course, and the Red Sox took two of three from that series. That gave the Yankees their second consecutive series loss and their third in four series. Considering this was just a week ago, it could be fair to say they’re still trending a bit downward, but they’re coming off a big series against the Mets. They completed a four-game sweep, and the Red Sox will be looking to knock them off this high.
8/18: Drew Pomeranz vs. Jordan Montgomery, 7:10 PM ET
Pomeranz has been spectacular for the Red Sox this year, and has arguably been the most important performer on the team when you factor in expectations. This team has been built on the back of their stars for the most part, but Pomeranz has been among those to step up on a consistent basis in 2017. This will be the lefty’s second consecutive start against the Yankees, and he allowed three runs in 6 2⁄3 innings of work last weekend.
Montgomery has been one of the best rookie pitchers in all of baseball this year, and though he doesn’t look like a potential superstar he should stick in New York’s rotation for a long time. There are some command issues for the 24-year-old rookie, but that’s to be expected early in anyone’s career. He’s able to get by that with big stuff that has led to almost a strikeout per inning. He allowed only one run over 5 1⁄3 innings against the Red Sox last weekend. Montgomery has a big arsenal that includes both a four- and two-seam fastball, both in the low-90s, along with a changeup, a slider and a curveball.
8/19: Chris Sale vs. C.C. Sabathia, 7: 10 PM ET
Saturday is Sale Day, the best day of the week. Boston’s ace was spectacular last weekend against the Yankees, showing that he is more than ready to perform on the biggest stages. He stepped up and shut down the Yankees over the course of seven innings, allowing just one run and striking out 12. He’ll look to do it again just six days later.
Sabathia didn’t pitch last weekend as he was on the disabled list with knee inflammation. He remains on the DL but is expected to return for Saturday’s outing. The veteran has a tough matchup going up against Sale, but he’s been mostly solid in 2017. The lefty had a really tough stretch at the beginning of the year, but since the middle of May he has a sub-3.00 ERA with solid peripherals. I wouldn’t bet on his true-talent being represented by that ERA, but he’s a solid-average arm who is more than capable of showing flashes of more. These days, the former Cy Young winner tosses a low-90s two-seamer to go with a cutter, a slider and a changeup.
8/20: TBD vs. Sonny Gray, 1:30 PM ET
As far as I can tell, the Red Sox are yet to announce a starter for Sunday’s game. It comes down to two options between Doug Fister and Rick Porcello. Obviously, Porcello is the preferred option and with Thursday’s option he could go on a regular rest, but this is the time of year where getting a little extra rest can go a long way. They wouldn’t say so publicly, but I wonder if they’ll make this a gametime decision and only start Porcello if they lose the first two games of this series.
The Red Sox avoided Gray in these teams’ last matchup, but they won’t be so fortunate this time around. The Yankees newest starting pitcher isn’t their best starter -- Luis Severino still maintains that status — but he’s an outstanding number two. The former Oakland A has allowed six earned runs (nine total) over 18 innings since putting on Pinstripes and he’s had some minor control issues in those outings. Gray throws both a four- and two-seam fastball, both in the low-to-mid-90s, and pairs that with a slider and a curveball.
Jacoby Ellsbury is the only old friend on the roster. With the return of Aaron Hicks — something we witnessed firsthand last weekend — Ellsbury’s role on the team is in flux. He’ll still get some starts here and there, but expect him to take a spot on the bench more often than not moving forward. It’s been a startling drop for the former Red Sox star.
Note: This section was literally copied and pasted from last week’s section because nothing has really changed since these teams last met.
Aaron Judge was obviously the biggest story in the league over the first half of the season, but he’s slowed down in a big way since the All-Star break. While he’s still walking a ton, the home runs aren’t coming nearly as frequently and he’s striking out in seemingly every other at bat. Still, the bat is obviously scary and we all know he can put a charge into any baseball that is thrown in his direction.
Gary Sanchez has been overshadowed by Judge all year, but he’s a terrifying hitter in his own right. The Yankees catcher has put up huge power numbers all year, including the second half, but he’s displayed some poor plate discipline of late that has hindered his overall production.
Brett Gardner has quietly been very good in the Yankees outfield this year, showing off surprising pop while maintaining the contact ability that has made him so solid throughout his career.
Aaron Hicks has been out since late June but returned to action Thursday night in Toronto. When he was on the field, he was stellar for the Yankees with huge power and one of the most impressive K/BB ratios in the league.
Didi Gregorius has been carrying the Yankees offense in the second half with great contact skills and surprising power. He is extremely aggressive at the plate, so he can be taken advantage of, though it’s been easier said than done of late.
Todd Frazier was the assumed Red Sox trade deadline target but ended up in New York. He’s been okay with New York thanks to extreme patience and more success on batted balls than he’s seen since 2014.
Aroldis Chapman is still the Yankees closer in name, though his grip on that job is much less firm than it's been really at any other point. The lefty has been struggling with his control all year long, and that was on full display the last time these two teams met. All a batter has to do is show a modicum of patience and they have a solid chance at getting on base right now. Combine that with the other options in New York’s bullpen, and it wouldn’t be surprised to see Chapman in a reduced role at some point over the next six weeks.
Dellin Betances has his own control issues, but he’s still one of the best relievers in baseball thanks to his incredible strikeout stuff and his ability to induce weak contact.
David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle were the two big bullpen additions made by the Yankees at the trade deadline, and they are both great high-leverage arms. Robertson is much more established and could be the guy to eventually take Chapman’s closer job, but both have big strikeout stuff and can shut down a lineup at any point in the game.
Chasen Shreve is the only lefty in New York’s pen, and the southpaw has enough strikeout stuff to mask his inconsistent control.
Clint Frazier has made a great first impression for the Yankees since coming up the majors, but he was just placed on the 10-day disabled list last week with an oblique strain. It’s unclear right now how much time he’ll miss.
Masahiro Tanaka has had an up-and-down season for the Yankees, but he’d appeared to have been turning things around of late. The righty went down with shoulder inflammation, though they are hoping it’s not serious and he’s able to come back as soon as next week.
Luis Cessa has been a spot starter for New York this year, but he was placed on the disabled list with a rib injury last week.
Garrett Cooper has served as one of many depth options that is the revolving door at New York’s first base position. He was placed on the disabled list earlier this week with a hamstring injury.
Michael Pineda received a huge blow in July, going down with an elbow injury and eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery. He’ll obviously miss the rest of the year, and likely most of 2018.
Starlin Castro has been out since late-July with a hamstring injury. He’s back to swinging the bat, but he’s still a little ways away from returning to the majors.
Matt Holliday has been struggling of late, and things got worse when he was placed on the 10-day disabled list last week with a back injury.
Greg Bird was supposed to be the primary first baseman this year but has been out all year with an ankle injury. He’s hoping to start a rehab assignment soon and possibly return before the end of the month.
The weather in Boston this weekend should be mostly good, but Friday’s game could be a long one that is either delayed or cancelled altogether by rain. Right now, the forecast is calling for some falling water starting around 9:00 PM. The rest of the series should be okay.