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Red Sox vs. Yankees Series Preview

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It’s the last series between these two of the year.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Pinstripe Alley

The opponent in one sentence

The Yankees are at it again, getting healthy and mashing baseballs, getting hot at exactly the right time heading into postseason play.

Record

29-21

Head-to-head record

Red Sox 0, Yankees 7

Trend

Up. Not too long ago, there was some actual concern that this Yankees team may actually miss the postseason. They were reeling. That is no longer the case! New York is playing some of their best baseball of the season and have won eight in a row, including a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays in their last series in which they scored double digit runs in every game. Should be good times for Red Sox pitching!

Pitching Matchups

9/18: Martín Pérez vs. Jordan Montgomery, 7:30 PM ET

The Pérez signing has been a clear victory for Chaim Bloom and company, even acknowledging the small sample size that is inherent in this season. The lefty comes into this start against the Yankees with a career-best 109 ERA+. The peripherals still make me worry about his future, but you can’t dismiss the results, particularly in this season where we need whatever win we can get from the Red Sox pitching staff. Pérez is coming off a very solid start his last time out against the Rays, allowing three runs (two earned) over five innings with six strikeouts and two walks. He has faced the Yankees just once this year, and he was knocked out after three innings of three-run ball. This is a big test against the hottest lineup in baseball.

Boston Red Sox v Philadelphia Phillies - Game One Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Montgomery was sort of a forgotten man league-wide coming into this season. The lefty had a really impressive rookie year back in 2017, but he was barely able to pitch the next two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018. He’s come back to join the rotation this year, but he’s struggled a bit. The peripherals are a little better than the 4.76 ERA, but he can be hit hard if he leaves too much over the zone. His stuff is roughly average, but he pounds the zone. The Red Sox should be ready to jump on pitches early in the count and try to punish mistakes no matter the count. The bad news is he is coming off his best start of the season, tossing 5 23 innings with just an unearned run coming across while stirking out nine and walking only one. Montgomery will lean heavily on his changeup along with a pair of low-to-mid-90s fastballs and a curveball.

9/19: TBD vs. J.A. Happ, 7:30 PM ET

You didn’t think we’d get through a series without ol’ TBD making an appearance, did you? I’m not even going to try and guess on this one. I can’t imagine it will be an exciting name, though.

Happ’s spot on the Yankees roster was the one that gave New York fans the most worry coming into the year, but he’s worked around some rough peripherals for a solid 3.96 ERA so far this season. The lefty hasn’t really been good in any of the three true outcome areas — he’s striking out 21 percent of opponents, walking nine percent, and has allowed seven homers in seven starts — but he also hasn’t been bad enough for it all to catch up to him. In his last five outings, he’s allowed more than two runs only once, and over his last two the southpaw has tossed 11 13 innings while allowing just three runs with 15 strikeouts and two walks. So, yeah, he’s feelin’ it. Happ will offer a low-90s four-seam, a high-80s two-seam, a slider and a changeup.

9/20: Tanner Houck vs. Deivi García, 1:07 PM ET

This is the main event if you’re into talented young starters. Granted, the Yankees prospect is certainly more highly regarded than Houck, but the Red Sox 2017 first rounder certainly impressed in his debut in Miami. While that start was impressive, this is obviously going to be a much bigger test. He’s probably going to have to go to his splitter a bit more than he did last time, and the fastball command will need to be a bit sharper. No one is expecting five shutout innings again, but if he can simply get through this lineup a couple times without the game blowing open, I will count that as an emphatic passing of the test.

García, as I alluded to, is a very well-regarded prospect who has been very impressive since joining the big-league club. The righty, who idolized Pedro Martínez, was a top-50 prospect coming into the year and the number one prospect in the Yankees system. He has made four starts for the Yankees, pitching to a 3.28 ERA. His strikeout stuff has been more good than great, but his control for such a young pitcher has been able to keep his numbers down. He’s also been able to provide legitimate length, which is even more impressive considering he’s only 21, pitching seven innings in each of his last two outings and at least six innings in three of his four starts. Control had been a bigger issue in the minors than it’s been in the majors this year, so it may behoove the Red Sox to make the rookie throw strikes early and try to make him labor for the first few frames, if possible. García will feature a low-to-mid-90s fastball along with a changeup, a curveball and a slider.

Old Friends

None, as it should be.

Notable Position Players

Aaron Judge just rejoined the Yankees this past week after missing a few weeks due to injury. He remains New York’s best overall player when healthy, working around his high strikeout rates with bananas power, terrific patience and extremely underrated defense in right field.

Giancarlo Stanton also just rejoined the Yankees lineup, and frankly it’s unfair they are able to inject this much power between these two guys in about a week’s time. The league should look into that, in my opinion.

D.J. LeMahieu has been absolutely incredible this year atop the Yankees lineup. He’s drawing walks, not striking out, hitting for somewhat surprising power, and turning balls in play into hits. He’s extremely annoying to face!

Luke Voit has been on a tear of late, and really is probably the most underrated hitter in this lineup. He has four homers in his last three games and six dingers in his last six games.

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Aaron Hicks has actually been trending a bit in the wrong direction, but his overall line looks about right for him. He has some solid power, but his biggest strength is his consistently sky-high walk rate.

Gleyber Torres hasn’t really hit for the power most expected this year, but he’s still been solidly above-average thanks to great plate discipline.

Gary Sánchez is still a threat to pop one out of the park at any time, but his inability to make contact and hit singles has tanked his value at the plate this season.

Gio Urshela is just another phenomenal all-around hitter that came out of nowhere in this lineup, joining Voit and Hicks.

Clint Frazier took a long time to get a consistent shot in this lineup, but he’s been getting it this year and is crushing it thanks to big power and great patience.

Bullpen Snapshot

Aroldis Chapman got off to a late start this year after testing positive to COVID, and he’s had a bit of a homer problem in a small sample this season.

Zack Britton doesn’t get strikeouts like he once did and walks a few more than you’d like, but his ability to keep balls in play on the ground has mitigated any issues the strikeouts and walks may cause.

Adam Ottavino and Chad Green are the two righties that we’ll see in the late innings, with the former seeing his high walk rate come back to bite him and the latter having a solid season, albeit with a big of a homer issue.

Injuries

James Paxton went down with a flexor strain injury and was just recently transfered to the 45-day injured list, ruling him out for the year.

Tommy Kahnle underwent Tommy John back in August and may not be able to return in 2022.

Luis Severino underwent Tommy John after the season was initially shut down in March, putting him on a similar timeline to Chris Sale.

Weather Forecast

It’s going to be a very fall-like atmosphere at Fenway this weekend with the coolest temperatures we’ve seen this season, but there doesn’t look like there’s risk of rain to cancel any games.