SB Nation Blog
The Opponent in one sentence
The Yankees are running away with the American League East thanks to a hugely productive lineup despite a number of injuries throughout the year.
Red Sox 4, Yankees 11
Up. The Yankees have been trending up pretty much all year, which is how you get to a 92-49 record. They are playing particularly well right now, having won each of their last four series. It’s not really a soft part of their schedule, either, with two of those series (Dodgers and Athletics) being against potential playoff teams.
9/6: TBD vs. Domingo Germán, 7:10 PM ET
The opening game of this series was supposed to feature David Price on the mound for the Red Sox. That, as you can see, is no longer going to happen. The lefty suffered a setback on the wrist injury that caused him to miss basically all of August. It’s not clear how much time he will miss because of this. Without Price, it seems the Red Sox are going with a bullpen game. Peter Abraham speculated that Jhoulys Chacín could be a candidate to get this start, but don’t expect a full start from the righty. Alex Cora indicated earlier this week that Chacín would be more of a pure reliever to pitch in one- or two-inning stints. That doesn’t mean he can’t go more than that, but unless he’s cruising I’d expect this to be a bullpen game, which is a lot easier when you are carrying 794 relievers.
While the Yankees were suffering injury after injury early in the year and when their starting pitching was largely hit-or-miss, Germán stepped up and carried the rotation. He was consistently spectacular for the first couple months of the year. Since then, the righty has leveled off a bit but overall he has still been very good. Germán allowed no more than two runs in four of his six outings in the month of August, including one against the Red Sox. On the season he has put up big strikeout numbers with good control, but homers have killed him at times. Going back to the start of July, he’s allowed at least one dinger in ten of his eleven starts. The Red Sox have seen Germán three times this year, scoring a total of eight runs over 16 innings with 24 strikeouts and three walks. The righty will feature a curveball, a fastball that sits around 93-94 mph, a changeup and a sinker.
9/7: TBD vs. J.A. Happ, 4:05 PM ET
I hope you like bullpen games, because we’ve got another one coming on Saturday! Again, this is what happens when you carry 938 relievers in your September bullpen. This one, unlike Friday’s, was planned. I would expect the team to use an opener before turning to Brian Johnson or perhaps Josh Smith or Hector Velázquez for a few innings, though that will depend on usage in the two games preceding this one.
It has not been a good year for Happ, as the veteran lefty came back to the Yankees in free agency this past winter and has been below average throughout this season. Through 27 starts he has pitched to a 5.34 ERA, a 5.57 FIP and a 6.62 DRA. Every pitcher has been hurt by the juiced ball this year, of course, but a guy like Happ who is aging and just doesn’t have the strikeout stuff while possessing a batted ball profile that skews towards fly balls is particularly vulnerable. He’s given up 32 homers already this year and has been less successful in navigating those issues than Germán thanks to a steep drop in strikeout rate. He has been solid against the Red Sox this year, allowing eight runs over 17 innings with 11 strikeouts and four walks. The southpaw will offer a low-90s fastball, a sinker, a slider and a changeup.
9/8: Rick Porcello vs. Masahiro Tanaka, 8:05 PM ET
I feel like there’s just not that much to say about Porcello at this point in the year. He’s had his flashes here and there, but every time you start to think maybe he’s turned a corner he goes out and gets crushed. That’s what happened last time out against the Twins, when he was clearly left in too long and the Red Sox paid the price. I can’t imagine he’ll have a very long leash in this one, and Alex Cora could be digging deep into his 1112-man bullpen in this game. Over three starts Porcello has allowed 14 runs over 11 innings, largely due to the disaster in London.
Speaking of that disaster in London, Tanaka was on the other side of that and was almost as bad as Porcello. It’s been kind of a weird season for the Yankees righty. For a lot of the year, he was not able to throw his signature splitter with the success he’s usually enjoyed. He’s seemingly fixed that issue of late, though, and has been better over his last five starts. In that span, he’s pitched to a 2.43 ERA with 23 strikeouts and five walks. More importantly, he’s only allowed three homers. The Red Sox have had Tanaka’s number this year, scoring an absurd 18 runs over just four innings in two starts. They’ll need to jump over his mistakes here. The righty will feature a slider, a fastball, the aforementioned splitter along with occasional sinkers and curveballs.
9/9: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. James Paxton, 7:10 PM ET
As with Porcello, what is there to say about Rodriguez at this point? The key difference here, of course, is that Rodriguez has been overwhelmingly positive. The lefty has been lights out for the second half, and particularly of late where he has allowed zero runs over seven innings in three of his last four starts. His last time out against the Twins was particularly impressive in his ability to combine his strikeout stuff with efficiency. That’s been the missing piece his entire career, and could help him reach another level. Rodriguez has been fine against the Yankees this year, allowing a total of nine runs over 17 2⁄3 innings.
Paxton was New York’s big pitching acquisition this past winter, and it’s been kind of a strange season. The lefty has shown plenty of flashes of the guy he’s been throughout his career in Seattle, but he’s also had periods of extreme struggles. In particular, he had issues early in his starts, to the point where many Yankee fans were hoping he’d have an opener for his starts. Paxton has turned things around of late, though, pitching to a 2.98 ERA over his last seven starts going back to the beginning of August. The Red Sox have scored nine runs over 18 innings against the lefty this year. Paxton will featuer a big mid-90s fastball along with a cutter and a curveball.
Jacoby Ellsbury is hurt, as he has been pretty much exclusively for a few years now.
Notable Position Players
Aaron Judge missed a significant chunk of time this year, but he’s back to being Aaron Judge again. That is to say, he’s mashing baseballs. Yes, Judge does strike out a lot but that is more than made up for with his huge walk rate and out-of-this-world power.
Gary Sánchez is on a hot streak of his own after injuries earlier in the year. Sánchez doesn’t have the same walk rate and true-talent BABIP as Judge, but he is always a threat to leave the yard.
DJ LeMahieu has just been absurd this season. There’s really no other way to say it. Always a solid player, the infielder has jumped to another level in 2019 with good power and a ton of contact.
Gleyber Torres might be the best all-around non-Judge player on this Yankees team already, and if he’s not he could be soon enough. The middle infielder can play defense, run a little bit, has solid plate discipline and makes big contact.
Didi Gregorius hasn’t really been himself this year, with most of that being due to some BABIP issues after missing the first half of the season.
Edwin Encarnación just recently came off the IL and he’s yet another Yankees hitter with big-time power.
Luke Voit, well, just read the Encarnación sentence.
Brett Gardner is all of a sudden a 20-homer, .233-ISO hitter. 2019!
Mike Tauchman is the current personification of New York’s crazy depth this year. Every fill-in they’ve used has played well beyond expectations, and that includes Tauchman with his unexpected power surge.
Aroldis Chapman is sort of quietly having a monster season in the back of the Yankees bullpen. His control hasn’t been great, but it’s been good enough along with everything else he brings to the table.
Zack Britton as been up and down this year and doesn’t miss bats like he once did, but the lefty is so hard to square up it hasn’t mattered a whole lot.
Adam Ottavino is in a similar mold to Chapman as a guy with control issues but good enough stuff to make up for it.
Ellsbury, as I mentioned above, is out. He’s not going to play this year thanks to a hip injury (among other ailments).
Giancarlo Stanton has missed most of this season with a knee injury, but he’s going to face live pitching again soon and the Yankees still hope to have him ready for the playoffs.
Luis Severino is set to make a rehab assignment on Friday as he tries to pitch in the majors for the first time this year. If/when he does return, it will likely be as a reliever or a two- or three-inning starter.
Aaron Hicks has been out for weeks with an elbow injury, but he’s starting to throw again and the Yankees hope he’ll be back before the end of the year.
Gio Urshela went down with a groin injury a little over a week ago, but he should be activated when he’s eligible to return on Sunday.
Dellin Betances is on the verge of returning from a shoulder and lat issue, though it’s not likely he’ll be ready for this series.
CC Sabathia was removed from his last start with knee inflammation. He is hoping to pitch again in what is his final season, but there’s no guarantee.
Miguel Andújar tore his labrum early this season, and he’s rehabbing to get 100 percent ready for spring training next year.
Jordan Montgomery has missed the whole season as he’s rehabbing from Tommy John, but could be ready to return in a bullpen role soon.
Greg Bird has been out all year with plantar fasciitis and is unlikely to play in 2019.
Jonathan Holder has been out for about a month with a shoulder injury that could cost him the rest of the year.
Stephen Tarpley is out with an elbow injury but should be able to return in a week or two.
Thairo Estrada has been out for about a month but is set to start his rehab and add more depth to the Yankees bench later this month.
Ben Heller went down with a forearm injury in July. He was hoping to be back in September but that is not a sure thing at this point.
Jake Barrett went down in May with elbow inflammation and will likely be out the rest of the year.
Most of this series should be fine, but there is some question about the first game on Friday. There is rain in the forecast for most of the day, but hopefully it will hold off enough to get this game in.