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Red Sox at Yankees Series Preview

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The Red Sox have gone a perfect 6-0 against the Yankees so far this season and they’ll try to remain perfect during a four-game series in the Bronx to start the second half.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Pinstripe Alley

The opponent in one sentence

For every step forward, the Yankees have found a way to take a step back, leading to a rather uneven season and one that seems disappointing compared to their lofty preseason projections.

Record

46-43

Head-to-head record

Red Sox 6, Yankees 0

Trend

Up. Since the Red Sox swept them at the end of June, the Yankees have started to find a groove of sorts, especially in their last two series, as they took two out of three from both the Mariners and Astros right before the All-Star break, even if José Altuve and the rest of the Astros put a damper on the final game of New York’s first half.

Pitching Matchups

Note: These starting matchups are based on FanGraphs’ projections since the Yankees have not officially announced who will start in each game.

7/15: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Jordan Montgomery, 7:08 p.m. EST

There is still a lot of reason to believe that Eduardo Rodriguez can turn things around and pitch like a top of the rotation starter. Although his ERA is a ghastly 5.52, he has suffered from a .361 BABIP. That poor luck was on full display in his last start against the Los Angeles Angels, as he got dinked and dunked and allowed four earned runs over five innings in a 5-4 loss for the Red Sox. Whether you want to blame some unlucky breaks on soft contact or not, the showing against the Angels stalled what could have been the start of Rodriguez’s complete turnaround, as he had allowed two earned runs across a total of 12 innings in his prior two starts, including one against the Yankees.

Jordan Montgomery has been pretty good for the Yankees this season. The 28-year-old left-hander has started in 17 games and logged 93 innings while pitching to a 4.16 ERA with peripheral stats that look just a bit better. He has an above average walk rate and has done a solid job of limiting hard contact despite not having overly explosive stuff. He struck out nine and allowed three earned runs over 6 23 innings in his most recent start against the Mariners. That outing looked very similar to his start against the Red Sox on June 26 (six innings, three earned runs allowed, five strikeouts).

Philadelphia Phillies v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

7/16: Martín Pérez vs. Jameson Taillon, 7:05 p.m. EST

Martín Pérez didn’t make it out of the fourth inning when he last took the mound, as he was pulled after giving up a pair of home runs (and three earned runs total) in an outing against the Philadelphia Phillies last weekend. That marked only the second time this season that Pérez has been tagged for multiple home runs in a game. Pérez, who has had some brilliant starts this season, is trending in the wrong direction, with an ERA of 4.76, a FIP of 5.75 and a strikeout rate of just 13.5 percent in his last eight starts. The southpaw has never been a high volume strikeout guy, but if he’s allowing runs and not striking people out, there’s a problem.

Jameson Taillon’s first season in New York has had its fair share of ups and downs. Despite being on track to post a career-high mark in strikeout rate (24.4 percent currently), Taillon has been too prone to surrendering long balls. Opponents are launching 1.74 home runs per nine innings against the right-hander, which is tied for the seventh highest mark among pitchers with at least 80 innings thrown this season. Taillon did pitch solidly on Sunday against the Astros (and against the Mariners in the start before that), allowing only two earned runs across six innings to Houston, but both runs came on dingers.

7/17: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Domingo Germán, 7:15 p.m. EST

If there’s one starter in baseball who has figured out how to avoid home runs, it’s Nathan Eovaldi. Entering the second half off his first career All-Star Game appearance, Eovaldi is tied with Trevor Rogers of the Miami Marlins for the lowest mark among qualified pitchers in home runs allowed per nine innings (0.44). Unfortunately, Eovaldi did give up a home run (along with five total earned runs) in his last start before the break, but he’s still sporting a 3.66 ERA and an even more sparkling 2.60 FIP through 103 13 innings this season.

Like his rotation mate Taillon, Domingo Germán has had some home run issues this season. On that list of pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched in 2021 that I mentioned before, Germán has the sixth-highest mark in home runs allowed per nine innings (1.78). While his home run rate has risen, Germán’s velocity and strikeout rate have both fallen, with the right-hander averaging 93.5 miles per hour on his fastball and producing a 21.9 percent strikeout rate. Assuming FanGraphs is right and Germán does start on Saturday, it will mark a return to the rotation for the right-hander, who pitched out of the bullpen in his last two outings following a run of four starts in which he failed to get past the fifth inning.

7/18: Nick Pivetta vs. Gerrit Cole, 7:08 p.m. EST

Nick Pivetta has been either electric or awful in his last few starts. On June 24, he threw 6 23 no-hit innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, but he followed that up by surrendering six earn runs over 4 13 innings against the Kansas City Royals. He bounced back nicely, shutting out the Oakland A’s over the course of seven innings while striking out a season-high 10 batters, only to fall flat in the finale of the first half against his former team, the Philadelphia Phillies, on Sunday (four innings pitched, five total runs allowed). That’s just been the way for Pivetta, who has consistently mixed flashes of brilliance with stretches of disappointment. In all, however, he’s been a solid starter in the rotation and should continue to be so.

Gerrit Cole looked like his dominant self in his last start before the All-Star break, tallying a complete game shutout with 12 strikeouts against the Houston Astros this past Saturday. It marked a return to form for the right-hander, who was tagged for 10 total runs across back-to-back starts before facing Houston as speculation swirled about his sliding spin rate in the wake of MLB’s new foreign substance policy.

Old Friends

None, although Adam Ottavino and Garrett Whitlock qualify as old friends for the other side. Thanks again, Yankees.

New York Mets v New York Yankees - Game Two Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Notable Position Players

Normally this would be where we discuss position players from the Red Sox’s opponent, but this preview would not be complete without noting that Jarren Duran will be in the building.

Aaron Judge is the best player on the Yankees’ roster and is having another strong year. He’s swatted 21 home runs and has a 147 wRC+ through the first half of the season.

Giancarlo Stanton may not be on pace to hit 59 home runs like he did in 2017, but he’s still been far above average offensively and with 15 long balls, it’s not like his power has disappeared.

Gary Sánchez is another power hitter for the Yankees and has hit 15 home runs to go with a .457 slugging percentage this season. He’s also been walking at a career-high rate, but his boom or bust approach has dragged his batting average (.217) and OBP (.328) down.

DJ LeMahieu hit a MLB-leading .364 last season, but he has not been as potent with the bat this year, with a .270/.351/.367 slash line.

Gio Urshela strikes out quite a bit and doesn’t walk all that much, but he’s still been relatively effective, posting a 107 wRC+ this season.

Gleyber Torres still hasn’t gotten back to looking like a future superstar like he did in in 2018 and 2019 and so far this season, has been 18 percent worse than league average at the plate.

Bullpen Snapshot

Despite some poor performances, Yankee relievers still lead all of MLB in fWAR (4.5).

Aroldis Chapman is still who they turn to in big spots, but his 4.55 ERA and 16.8 percent walk rate have hurt New York on more than one occasion.

Chad Green leads all healthy Yankees relievers in innings pitched (46 2/3), but he blew Sunday’s game against the Astros, making for a sour spot in what has been a solid season overall.

Luis Cessa (144 ERA+, 36 innings) and Lucas Luetge (129 ERA+, 43 innings) have both been above average relievers as well.

Injuries

The Yankees are dealing with quite a few injuries spread across the roster. From the position player side, Miguel Andújar and Clint Frazier are both on the 10-day injured list, while Aaron Hicks is on the 60-day IL.

There have been even more injuries to the pitching staff, with the rotation missing Corey Kluber, Luis Severino and Clarke Schmidt, who are all on the 60-day IL, although Kluber is the only one who was lost during the season. Meanwhile, multiple relievers are on the 10-day IL, including Zack Britton, Michael King and Darren O’Day, and Jonathan Loaisiga’s breakout season is on hold as well due to COVID-19 precautions.

Weather Forecast

It’s going to be in the 90s on Thursday and Friday and then will cool into the weekend, as Saturday and Sunday look like the days with the highest risk of precipitation, according to Weather.com.

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