Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com (July 28, 2018 – Source: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America)
It’s time once again for the latest installment of the greatest rivalry in sports. The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees own the top two spots in the AL East and still have ten games left to play against each other. While the Red Sox have built a decent lead, this division is still anyone’s for the taking. Without further ado, here is the Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees series preview.
Installment Four: Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees Series Preview
This version of the New York Yankees will look a bit different from the version the Red Sox played nine times this year. By far the biggest difference is that Yankees superstar right fielder Aaron Judge will not be in the lineup. The massive slugger injured his wrist last Thursday against the Royals and will be out for two weeks. Judge is arguably the best hitter in a lineup stacked full of them, hitting .276/.401/.574 with a 158 wRC+. While he’s not quite as dominant on the road, the Red Sox chances increase significantly with Judge out of the lineup.
Additionally, the Yankees added longtime Baltimore Orioles reliever Zach Britton to the bullpen. Britton isn’t having his best season, posting a 3.57 ERA, 4.41 FIP, and a 6.11 BB/9 rate. Still, his addition gives the Yankees arguably the best bullpen in baseball. Britton, Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Dave Robertson, and Chad Green are all more-than-capable relievers. If the Red Sox trail entering the sixth inning, it’s going to be hard to get the lead.
Game One: C.C. Sabathia vs Brian Johnson
The Red Sox should have been favored in this one prior to Chris Sale hitting the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. With Sale sidelined, the Red Sox turn to Brian Johnson for the series opener.
While Johnson isn’t nearly the pitcher Sale is, the young lefty is having a solid season in his own right. Johnson currently owns a solid 3.45 ERA on the season, but that number improves to 1.80 in starts. While he has been the beneficiary of luck during his starts (as evidenced by his 4.06 FIP), he’s more than capable of keeping the Red Sox in the game.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox have to go against C.C. Sabathia. The 38-year old pitcher is having another solid season, posting a 3.55 ERA, 4.55 FIP, and a 1.29 WHIP. This should be a close, medium-scoring game that will probably be decided by one or two plays.
Game Two: Luis Severino vs Rick Porcello
Even though the Red Sox are going up against the Yankees ace, Boston should feel good about their chances here. Most of this optimism comes from the fact that Luis Severino is in the midst of an absolutely awful rut lately.
Over his last four starts, Severino owns an ugly 8.84 ERA. The peripherals don’t paint a much better picture, as he owns a 6.68 FIP and is allowing a .384/.418/.698 slash line. He is allowing an unsustainably high .433 BABIP, but that doesn’t explain away all of his bad numbers.
Severino is a special talent and he has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in baseball. However, it’s not very likely that Severino finds his true form against one of the best offenses in baseball. Once again, the Red Sox should have the upper hand here.
Game Three: ??? vs Nathan Eovaldi
This game is hard to predict, as it’s anyone’s guess who will start for the Yankees. Recently acquired J.A. Happ was supposed to start this game, but he recently contracted hand, foot, and mouth disease. The Yankees are hopeful he can make his start, but that’s anything but a given right now.
For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume Happ starts. The new Yankee is in the middle of a rather pedestrian season, posting a 4.05 ERA, 3.94 FIP, and a 1.15 WHIP. However, his numbers against the Red Sox are fantastic.
Over his career, Happ owns a 2.98 ERA against the Red Sox. That number improves to 1.78 since 2015, the year in which the majority of the current Red Sox core joined the majors full-time. While he did allow a grand slam to Mookie Betts in his last outing against the Sox, his track record suggests Boston will struggle against him. That said, if he does pitch, he probably won’t be at 100%, so he might not have all his usual stuff.
Meanwhile, Nathan Eovaldi looks to build off of his sterling Red Sox debut. Eovaldi pitched seven scoreless innings in his first outing with the Red Sox, lowering his ERA to 3.80 and his FIP to 4.01. Eovaldi faced the Yankees once this season as a member of the Rays, going 7.1 innings while allowing five earned runs. It wasn’t a great outing by any means, but it was still just one game. This game should go down to the wire, and could ultimately come down to the bullpen. If that happens, the Yankees have the better pen.
Game Four: Masahiro Tanaka vs David Price
David Price is pitching against the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball. This is not a good omen for the Red Sox. Price has had a solid season overall, but his struggles against the Yankees continue to be a serious issue. So far, Price owns a terrible 24.92 ERA, 20.70 FIP, and a 3.23 WHIP against the Yankees.
After his most recent start against the Yankees, Price said he’d try to reinvent himself to face New York. Since that game, Price has started utilizing his changeup more. Will this be the fix to his Yankee woes? Hopefully. However, until he actually shows he’s capable of beating the Yankees, it’s hard to bet on the Red Sox here.
Unfiltered Takeaways from the Series
By this writers eyes, the Red Sox are looking at a series split. Brian Johnson probably isn’t good enough to beat C.C. Sabathia, even with Aaron Judge out of the lineup. The Red Sox should take advantage of Severino’s bad skid along with Happ’s recent injury to take games two and three. David Price is on a hot streak, but he was on a hot streak the last time he faced the Yankees.
Losing Sale when they did hurts, as the Red Sox otherwise would have had a great chance at taking three of four. However, Sale’s long-term health is more important. These teams are incredibly evenly matched, as evidenced by their 5-4 head-to-head record. This should be a gripping series with serious playoff implications.