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Red Sox at Yankees Series Preview

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A look at the first series between the Red Sox and Yankees of 2021.

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New York Yankees v. Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images

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Pinstripe Alley

The opponent in one sentence

On paper the Yankees are arguably the most talented team in the American League, but they’ve struggled to really put it all together on a consistent basis in this early part of 2021.

Record

31-26

Head-to-head record

0-0

Trend

Down-ish. If you are looking at a bit of the bigger picture, then the Yankees are clearly trending in the wrong direction. They’ve suffered some injuries to key players, and it’s been a tough couple of weeks in the win/loss column. They are coming off a four-game split against the Rays, which considering how Tampa is playing right now that is no small feat. That said, they’ve also lost seven of their last 10, including a sweep at the hands of the lowly Tigers.

Pitching Matchups

6/4: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Mike King, 7:05 PM ET (MLB Network for out-of-market)

After getting out of the gates with a hot start this season, Eovaldi has been a little inconsistent of late en route to a solid but unspectacular line to this point in the year. The good news is he’s coming off a strong outing in Miami, and hopefully he’ll be able to parlay that into another good showing against a tougher lineup in the Bronx. Although he hasn’t really been going deep into games of late, he has allowed just two runs over his last two outings to go with 11 strikeouts and three walks over 10 23 innings. The most impressive quality for Eovaldi this season has been his ability to keep the ball in the yard — he’s allowed just one homer all year — and that will be put to the test in a big way against this lineup in this ballpark.

King, a Rhode Island native and former BC standout, is not too far removed from his prospect days but over the last couple of years has settled into something of a swingman role for New York. He’s made only one start this season, but a recent injury to Corey Kluber is putting him back in the rotation. The righty has solid stuff that will miss some bats, and he’s had a good season so far in 2021, but he also has some control issues that has given him problems in the past. The Red Sox should be patient against King and let him get himself into trouble rather than bailing him out if he is struggling to hit the zone. He’ll lead with a low-to-mid-90s sinker and also mix in a cutter and a changeup.

Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

6/5: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Jameson Taillon, 7:15 PM ET (FOX)

Things have not been easy for Rodriguez of late, and they don’t figure to get much easier against this Yankees lineup. The good news for him is that most of his trouble has been balls in play finding their way in for hits, and Yankee Stadium is not a very large park. That means, in theory anyway, that it should be more difficult for balls to fall in for these singles that have been killing him. The bad news is there is still a ton of thump in this lineup, and any ball in play has the potential to be trouble given how hard these hitters tend to hit the ball. Boston’s southpaw is now up to a 5.64 ERA, and he’s allowed at least four runs in each of his last four starts and in five of his last six. Right now it seems like he just needs one good outing to start a run of them. This is not the ideal environment for it to occur, but crazier things have happened.

Taillon was, along with Kluber, one of two high-risk, high-reward additions to the rotation made by the Yankees this past winter. While Kluber was pitching relatively well before his injury, things have been a bit more of a slog for Taillon. The former Pirates number two overall pick is missing bats at a high rate, but he’s also giving up a lot more fly balls than he had in the past. That’s a tough tightrope to walk at Yankee stadium, and it’s resulting in a lot of home runs against the righty. He’s sitting with a 5.10 ERA this year, and he’s allowed at least one homer in eight of his 10 outings this season. The Red Sox should be looking to hunt mistakes in this matchup. Taillon will feature a low-to-mid-90s fastball along with a slider and a curveball.

6/6: Garrett Richards vs. Domingo Germán, 7:08 PM ET (ESPN)

Richards is in an interesting spot right now, having officially turned things around after those first few tough outings to start the season, but not quite as dominant as he was early in May. Lately, he’s been getting into a bit more trouble before being able to wriggle out of it most of the time. While it’s worked so far and he’s pitched to a 2.59 ERA over his last four starts, he’ll be looking for a cleaner outing against this Yankees lineup. Richards has tossed 24 13 innings over this four-start run, and though the results are good the 18 strikeouts to 15 walks suggests it’s only a matter of time before things blow up. He’ll be looking for a cleaner matchup against New York, his first experience of this rivalry.

Germán had been away from the Yankees last year after being suspended following a domestic violence arrest. He’s back in the rotation now despite the transgressions, and he’s mostly been pitching well. The righty has allowed more than four runs in just one start this season, and that was way back in his second of the year. It does seem like he’s been getting away with better results than you’d expect from his peripherals, but his excellent control has been a big part of it. The Red Sox should not be waiting around in his matchup, but rather taking what they get whenever it comes and trying to knock him out of his rhythm. Germán will lean heavily on his curveball while also throwing a mid-90s fastball, a changeup and a sinker.

Old Friends

Ryan LaMarre played all of five games for the Red Sox back in 2016 and has spent his career as Quad-A depth. He’s currently serving that role for the Yankees, and at the moment he finds himself on the injured list.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Notable Position Players

Aaron Judge is the best player on the Yankees, and he’s showing why this season. While health has always been a question, he’s been healthy for 2021 and he’s hitting for massive power while drawing a ton of walks and playing good defense in right field. He will swing and miss a bunch, though he’s even cut down on that a little this year en route to a 158 wRC+.

Giancarlo Stanton is as scary as it gets in terms of just hitting the crap out of the ball. Nobody hits the ball as hard as Stanton, and while his swing and miss does hold him back a bit, there are still few hitters who are more terrifying when they step into the box for any given plate appearance.

DJ LeMahieu has been a disappointment for the Yankees after coming back on a multi-year deal last winter. He’s still getting on base at the top of the lineup, but an utter lack of power has kept his overall production at the plate below league-average.

Gio Urshela is also having a bit of a disappointing year. He’s been average-to-slightly-below in just about every area so far this season, giving him a roughly league-average performance overall.

Gleyber Torres has been trending in the wrong direction for a couple years now, and in 2021 he’s shown good plate discipline but is failing to impact the ball much at all when he’s making contact.

Gary Sánchez is always a power threat, as we know, but it’s actually been just good rather than great power this year while his patience is what’s keeping his head above water offensively.

Rougned Odor was a surprise acquisition shortly after the season began, but he’s still struggling to do much of anything on balls in play, which has been a trend in his career.

Clint Frazier is still trying to make good on the promise he showed as a prospect with Cleveland. He’s liable to hit one a mile every time he comes up, but the consistency just hasn’t been there.

Miguel Andújar is looking to recapture the magic that made him look like a core piece moving forward back in 2018.

Bullpen Snapshot

Aroldis Chapman is still the closer in New York, and he’s pitching as well as he ever has. The good news is there are still control issues here and there for the dominant lefty, and over the years the Red Sox have seemingly had his number. Well, at least to the extent that anyone has.

Jonathan Loaisiga is officially a full-time reliever now, and he’s thriving in that role despite traditional strikeout ability you typically see in the late innings. Instead, he’s relying on a lot of ground balls and good control to get the results he needs.

Chad Green has always been a bit underrated, but he’s getting his results this year despite not really missing bats at as high a rate as they Yankees may be looking for.

Injuries

Luke Voit had just recently come off the IL for the Yankees, but was put back on last week, this time with an oblique injury.

Corey Kluber, as mentioned above, was just put on the shelf with a shoulder injury. The details are still not entirely clear, though he’s expected to be out for at least a couple months.

Luis Severino underwent Tommy John around the same time as Chris Sale, though his timeline to return seems to be a little more aggressive, though not by too much.

Aaron Hicks went on the IL with a wrist injury in the middle of May, and more recently he underwent surgery that will keep him out for the rest of the year.

Zack Britton is currently on a rehab assignment and shouldn’t be too far off from a return, though it probably won’t come this weekend.

Darren O’Day has been out since the end of April, but he’s starting to throw again and it doesn’t seem as though a rehab assignment should be too far off.

Justin Wilson just recently went down with a hamstring strain, and it’s expected he’ll miss at least the next three weeks or so.

Clarke Schmidt has been shut down with an elbow injury since early in camp, and it’s still not entirely clear when he will start to make his way back to this pitching staff.

LaMarre, as mentioned above, is on the IL and his timeline is unclear from a hamstring strain.

Weather Forecast

It should be a good, albeit humid and muggy, weekend in the Bronx. The one problem could come for the opener on Friday, as there are thunderstorms in the forecast scattered throughout the night. Saturday and Sunday shouldn’t be much of a problem, though.


A big thank you to FanGraphs, and particularly their Roster Resource tool, as well as Baseball Savant for research.