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Series Preview: Red Sox at Yankees

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It’s happening. Again.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation Blog

Pinstripe Alley

The Opponent in one sentence

The Yankees are annoyingly good and remain one of the elite teams in baseball thanks to a terrifying lineup along with a good rotation and a great bullpen.

Record

52-26

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 3, Yankees 3

Trend

Down, relatively speaking. The Yankees are too good to ever really be trending too far downward, though the Red Sox would be able to change that with a sweep. Let’s do that. Anyway, New York is coming off a series victory in Philadelphia, but immediately before that they were swept down in Tampa. In total, they have lost four of their last six, though they did win four in a row and seven of eight right before that.

Pitching Matchups

6/29: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. CC Sabathia, 7:05 PM ET

It has, by and large, been an impressive year for Rodriguez even if there are strides to be made. We’ve talked about this ad nauseam at this point, but the lefty has shown off his big strikeout stuff and is using his secondaries more this year. The issue has been efficiency and attacking hitter when he gets to two strikes. The Yankees have a lineup that will wait out any pitcher and if he’s not careful he could put on a few too many baserunners. He’ll have to be more aggressive if he wants to make it deep into the game against this lineup. That being said, he has had success against the Yankees both this year and over his career. In 2018 specifically, he has one start against the Red Sox’ biggest rivals and in it he tossed five shutout innings in which he allowed just one hit and three walks with eight strikeouts. Boston will be looking for a repeat performance.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Sabathia has been known to kill the Red Sox in recent years, and he was particularly effective in 2017 when he pitched to a 1.04 ERA over 26 innings and four starts. Overall, it has been yet another annoyingly strong start for the 37-year-old this year as Sabathia has a 3.18 ERA over 14 starts this season. However, his peripherals tell a bit of a different story as he boasts a solid walk rate but just a middling strikeout rate and a mild home run problem. All told, he has a 4.20 FIP and a league-average 4.30 DRA. Sabathia has been good lately, however, pitching to a 2.64 ERA over his last five starts. The Red Sox did have some success against him earlier this year, scoring four runs in four innings off the lefty when they met in May. Sabathia leans most heavily on his cutter and slider while also featuring a low-90s sinker and a changeup.

6/30: Chris Sale vs. Sonny Gray, 7:15 PM ET

Saturday is Sale Day, and it is the perfect time for a Sale Day as the lefty is rolling right now. After some hiccups earlier in the year, the Red Sox ace has fully hit his stride. Over his last four starts in particular he has been on a different level. Sale has thrown 28 innings in that span and boasts a 1.29 ERA with 43 strikeouts and seven walks while holding opponents to a .422 OPS. That is bananas. The lefty has faced the Yankees once this year, allowing just one run in six innings with eight strikeouts and no walks, though he did also allow eight hits.

Gray was a midseason trade acquisition for the Yankees last season, and the righty has had a bit of a tough time to start his 2018. Over his first 15 starts, he has an ugly 4.93 ERA, and the peripherals aren’t much better. Thanks to some real control issues, Gray has a 4.21 FIP and a 4.87 DRA. The key for the Red Sox will be to get the ball off the ground, as the former Oakland Athletic does get ground balls about 50 percent of the time but can give up plenty of homers when the ball does get into the air. He’s also looking better of late, pitching to a 3.23 ERA in June with a 29/6 K/BB ratio in 30 23 innings of work. The Red Sox did get to Gray for six runs in just three innings back in April. The righty features a both a four-seam and two-seam fastball, both in the low-to-mid-90s, along with a slider and a curveball.

7/1: David Price vs. Luis Severino, 8:00 PM ET

All eyes are going to be on Price for this start as he has had some issues against the Yankees in his Red Sox career, to put it mildly. The lefty exited an April start against New York after just one inning after having allowed four runs — this is when he first started experiencing feeling issues in his throwing hand — and missed the May series on the disabled list. He’s been on a helluva roll of late, though, showing off tremendous command en route to a 2.72 ERA with over a strikeout per inning over his last nine starts. If he can put forth a strong outing against the Yankees on a big Sunday Night stage in the Bronx, that’ll go a long way towards quieting his critics. If not, well, I hope you have ear plugs.

Severino is moving up in the rotation for this start, though since the Yankees had an off-day on Thursday he’ll be on normal rest. This is bad news for the Red Sox, as the young righty hs established himself as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. The fireballer strikes out over ten batters per nine innings with strong command, and that has led to a 2.10 ERA, a 2.23 FIP and a 2.17 DRA over his first 17 starts this year. That’s.....scary good. The good news is the Red Sox scored five runs in five innings against the Yankees ace in April. The bad news is they only managed two runs in six innings when they met in May. Severino averages 98 mph with his fastball and he also features a nasty slider as well as a changeup.

MLB: New York Yankees at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Old Friends

We know the Jacoby Ellsbury story by now. He was a top prospect for the Red Sox, came up to play a minor role on the 2007 World Series team, put forth an MVP-caliber season in 2011 (it’s a crime he didn’t win), was a major piece on the 2013 championship squad then left for the Yankees. His career has fallen off since then, to put it extremely mildly.

Notable Position Players

Aaron Judge is the best player on the Yankees and one of the very best players in all of baseball. Yes, he strikes out a whole lot, but he’s good at everything else. His power is out-of-this-world, he draws a ton of walks and has proven to be a high-BABIP hitter. He also plays underrated defense in right field. He’s a problem.

Giancarlo Stanton has gotten over his early-season swoons with his new team and is back to being a fearsome hitter in the middle of the lineup. Like Judge, he strikes out a ton but he also has terrifying power. He’s still no J.D. Martinez, though.

Gleyber Torres has emerged as a potential young superstar for the Yankees. Acquired in the Aroldis Chapman year a couple years ago, the second baseman has shown off tremendous power to start his major-league career.

Didi Gregorius has had a bit of a rollercoaster season, but overall the shortstop has been outstanding with good power and great plate discipline to go with strong defense up the middle.

Greg Bird was out with injury for these teams’ first two meetings, but he’s back at first base now. He’s a low batting average hitter, but he walks a ton and hits for power. However, he doesn’t play much against left-handed pitching so we’ll see how much playing time he gets this weekend.

Miguel Andujar is another impressive young Yankees infielder and the third baseman has utilized his aggressive approach to make hard contact more often than not this year.

Brett Gardner is still at the top of the Yankees lineup and while he doesn’t hit for power these days his great plate discipline provides plenty of value.

Aaron Hicks may be the most underrated player on the Yankees with good defense in center field, good plate discipline and good power. Seems good!

Austin Romine will be doing most of the catching in this series and has had a shockingly good season with big power numbers.

Brandon Drury was just called back up for this series and the righty should get plenty of playing time with the Sox throwing three lefties on the mound.

Bullpen Snapshot

Aroldis Chapman is still the Yankees closer and is having one of the best seasons of his career with over 15 strikeouts per nine innings and a ton of weak contact. The Red Sox have seemingly had his number in recent years, though.

David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Chad Green combine to make up one of the best set-up crews in all of baseball.

Chasen Shreve is the lone non-Chapman lefty in the Yankees bullpen, and based on Yankees fans’ reaction whenever he enters a game, he has not had a good year.

Injuries

Ellsbury has been out all year and it doesn’t look like the Yankees are stressing about getting him back on the field any time soon.

Gary Sanchez is one of the best hitters in the Yankees lineup but will be out all series with a groin injury. In fact, he could be out until right before the trade deadline.

Masahiro Tanaka has been out of the Yankees rotation since early June with a hamstring injury, but he’s nearing a return. The righty could be back as soon as next week.

Jordan Montgomery is another injured Yankees starter, but his injury is more serious than Tanaka’s. The young lefty hurt his elbow in the beginning of May and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery.

A.J. Cole has been solid out of the bullpen this year but he’s currently on the shelf with a neck strain. His timetable is unclear.

Ben Heller underwent Tommy John surgery right at the start of the season and will miss the rest of the year.

Weather Forecast

It is going to be a True Summer Series in New York this weekend. Temperatures are going to be in the 90s every day and could get close to 100 on Sunday. These are all night games so things will cool off a bit, but it’s going to be gorgeous and balls could be flying.