SB Nation Blog
The opponent in one sentence
The Yankees have had just about everything go wrong this season and are still dealing with injury and COVID issues as it is, but they are still managing to hang around the AL playoff picture for the time being.
Red Sox 7, Yankees 2
Up. Despite a barrage of injuries and COVID issues serving to deplete areas of their roster, the Yankees have come out of the break playing good baseball. They took two of three against the Red Sox last weekend, and then won both games against the Phillies this week. Overall, they come to Fenway having won four in a row.
7/22: Tanner Houck vs. Jordan Montgomery, 7:10 PM ET (MLB Network for out-of-market)
The Red Sox had been planning to add Houck to their rotation at least sporadically in the second half for a little while now, and his first start was pushed back thanks to the rain out on Tuesday. So he’ll make the spot as a sixth starter against the Yankees instead, which plays to his strengths given how right-handed they are. I’m really interested to see how they use Houck here, especially since they used Whitlock on Wednesday, which would presumably remove him as a multi-inning possibility on Thursday. Houck’s fastball and slider are ready to dominate in the bigs, but his success as a starter still comes down, at least in part, to the development of his splitter. He grabbed a three-inning save without allowing a run against the Yankees last weekend.
A few years ago it looked like Montgomery was emerging as a long-term fixture in this Yankees rotation, but injuries halted that track and he spent a couple years mostly out of the picture. He’s been back for a couple of years now, but he’s been more solid than good. The southpaw has some pretty good stuff and strikes out a batter per inning, but his command can get away from him at times and he is currently sitting with an ERA over 4.00. The Red Sox saw him in that series last weekend, scoring three runs over six innings. They did the same in a separate outing against him at the end of June as well. Montgomery will feature his secondaries heavily, pairing two different fastballs with a changeup and a curveball.
7/23: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Gerrit Cole, 7:10 PM ET (MLB Network for out-of-market)
Rodriguez could sneakily be the key for the Red Sox in the second half. There is some expected regression coming from the rest of the rotation, at least from a consistency standpoing, but Rodriguez is due some regression coming from the other direction. And in his last start, he appeared to be making good on that. In that first start of the second half the lefty shut the Yankees down for 5 2⁄3 shutout innings that included eight strikeouts. He’ll need to string a few of those kinds of starts together before we can really buy in, but it was exactly the start to this half he needed.
And the Red Sox will need Rodriguez to be good because they’re going up against probably the best pitcher in the American League. Cole showed that he is still dominant in his last start against the Red Sox. That game was marred mostly by frustration around the management of the rain in the Bronx and a fan throwing a ball at Alex Verdugo, but Cole also just flat dominated. He’s good for one of those starts just about every time out, so Boston’s offense needs to be in attack mode early and try and stop him from finding a groove. Cole will feature a high-90s fastball with a slider, curveball and changeup.
7/24: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Jameson Taillon, 4:05 PM ET (FS1)
In the absence of Chris Sale and with Rodriguez spending all season fighting the BABIP monster, it’s been Eovaldi who has settled in atop this Red Sox rotation. The righty has certainly not been perfect and is not turning into a True Ace before our eyes, but he’s been limiting the free passes which is usually enough for him to at least be solid. Although his team would lose the game against New York his last time out, Eovaldi only allowed one run over five innings. The results haven’t always been consistent, but over his last six starts he has 36 strikeouts and four walks over 36 innings of work.
Taillon was a really interesting acquisition by the Yankees this past winter, with real upside but also plenty of injury downside. As it turns out, he’s been just okay. There have been bright spots, but as with Montgomery he combines good stuff with command issues that often serve to distract from that first part. Taillon in particular has had a problem with the long ball, allowing 16 this season. Boston wasn’t able to get any off him last time out as he got through 5 2⁄3 shutout innings, so look for them to be aggressive here and set a ton early. Taillon will mostly lean on his mid-90s fastball, slider, and curveball.
7/25: Martín Pérez vs. Domingo Germán, 1:05 PM ET (TBS for out-of-market)
Pérez Days are starting to come with a little less excitement of late as there is a seemingly equal chance that he won’t make it through four innings as there is of him just having a solid start. He’s allowed three runs in each of his last two starts, including one against New York, but he’s combined for only 7 2⁄3 innings in those outings. Alex Cora has not been afraid to pull Pérez early in these games, especially against teams like the Yankees that feature some right-handed power. They’ll need some deep outings in the earlier games in order to use Pérez how they like.
For a while there from late April through early June, Germán looked like one of the better options in this Yankees rotation and appeared to be a key piece to any potential playoff run. Then he hit a wall, and spent most of July in the bullpen before rejoining the rotation in their last series against the Phillies. The Red Sox did see him for an inning out of the bullpen in which they didn’t score a run. They had seen him twice prior to that as well, with Germán having one strong start and another shaky one against the Sox. Overall, there’s just been a bunch of hard contact against the righty this year which has led to the uneven performances. Germán will actually lead with his curveball while also featuring a pair of low-to-mid-90s fastballs and a changeup.
Ryan LaMarre had a storied career with the Red Sox that featured all of six plate appearances. He’s up with the Yankees now as they deal with a depleted roster, and he contributed to last Sunday’s win for New York.
Notable Position Players
DJ LeMahieu has been a bit of a disappointment atop the Yankees lineup this year after coming back on a big contract in free agency this winter. He’s still making contact and drawing walks, but there’s been absolutely no power to add in so far this season.
Giancarlo Stanton has provided plenty of power, and overall his season has been solid with a 127 wRC+. This month has been a different story, though, with his strikeout rate up above 30 percent which has made it harder to tap into that power.
Gary Sánchez is basically having the same story as Stanton, except his struggles in July are less about a lack of power and more about terrible luck on balls in play.
Gleyber Torres has had a disappointing year, particularly in the power department, but more recently he’s gotten the home run swing going.
Rougned Odor is somehow the hottest hitter in this lineup, hitting seemingly everything hard.
Greg Allen has only played four games, but they’ve been four good games.
Brett Gardner probably shouldn’t be in an everyday role at this point, as there’s just little authority behind his contact these days.
Estevan Florial was once a top prospect for the Yankees, and was just recently called up to help out this depleted outfield.
Aroldis Chapman hit a well-publicized and very extreme wall recently, but it seems like he’s turning things around now, at least from terrible to decent.
Zack Britton hasn’t really been able to pitch much this year, and when he has gotten on the mound he’s struggled mightily in hitting the strike zone.
Chad Green has been New York’s best reliever, working around some home run problems to be otherwise dominant.
Aaron Judge was one of a handful of players placed on the COVID list last weekend, and it doesn’t seem like he’ll be able to come back for this series.
Luke Voit is dealing with a bone bruise on his knee that put him on the IL when the COVID issues were arising as well. Voit’s timeline to return is not clear.
Luis Severino underwent Tommy John surgery around the same time as Chris Sale, but he had a setback in his rehab so his timeline could be pushed back a bit more.
Corey Kluber went down with a significant shoulder injury in May, and while originally he was expected to be out until September, and August return could now be in the cards.
Gio Urshela was another one of the players to hit the COVID IL.
Clint Frazier left a game with dizziness back at the end of June, and while he’s doing some workout stuff again it’s still not entirely clear what the problem is.
Aaron Hicks underwent surgery on his wrist that will likely keep him out all season.
Jonathan Loaisiga was another player put on the COVID list, with his absence starting at the end of the first half.
Darren O’Day never really got to get going this season and underwent season-ending surgery on his hamstring.
Kyle Higashioka was yet another player affected by the COVID outbreak.
Miguel Andújar went down with a wrist injury earlier this month, and while he’s still not back there was optimism that it wasn’t anything too serious.
Trey Amburgey came up after the COVID outbreak, but quickly tweaked a hamstring that landed him on the injured list.
Tim Locastro was recently acquired in a trade, but then tore his ACL last weekend against the Red Sox and will miss the rest of the season.
Clarke Schmidt has been out all season dealing with arm issues, but he’s working his way back soon and could be a swingman option for the Yankees down the stretch.
Nestor Cortes was also part of the COVID outbreak, though it seems like he could potentially be back sooner than the others.
Michael King hurt his finger lifting weights, and it’s not clear when he’ll get back on the mound.
Wandy Peralta was the final member of the COVID outbreak.
There are a couple of games that are worth keeping an eye on from a weather perspective, with rain in the forecast for both Friday and Sunday. It’s not so bad that we can assume they will be postponed, but it’s borderline right now.