Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com (June 29, 2018 – Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)
The second half of the season has been much nicer to the Boston Red Sox than the New York Yankees. Entering the All-Star Break, the Red Sox had a fairly comfortable 4.5-game lead over the rival Yankees. However, since then, the division has opened up. The Red Sox currently have an 11.5-game lead over the Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox can clinch the division on the Yankees home field. Without further ado, here is the Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees Series Preview
Clinching the AL East: Boston Red Sox At New York Yankees Series Preview
So, what happened to the New York Yankees? While they still have an impressive 91-58 record, they haven’t been the same team of late. Ever since losing superstar slugger Aaron Judge, the Yankees have struggled to a 26-22 record, barely playing .500 baseball.
Additionally, the Red Sox seemed to take a lot of life out of the Yankees during their four-game sweep earlier in the season. Since starting that series against Boston, New York is just 23-20. While both records are not terrible, they’re certainly not good enough to keep pace with a Red Sox lineup that is now 103-47 on the season.
While Aaron Judge is back from the lineup, his presence is mostly symbolic. The gigantic slugger is cleared to play defense and pinch-run, but he’s not yet healthy enough to hit. He is expected to be ready for the playoffs, but he hasn’t seen live pitching in almost two months. It’s anyone’s guess if he’ll be able to perform up to his lofty standards after such a long stretch of inactivity.
Of course, the games must be played before the division is clinched. Granted, the starting rotation could be adjusted depending on if and when the Red Sox finally clinch the American League East. However, as of now, these are your projected starters.
Game One: Nathan Eovaldi vs J.A. Happ
This one should be an intriguing matchup. Both players were dealt at the deadline, with the Yankees opting for J.A. Happ over Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi pitched an absolute gem last time out against the Yankees, throwing eight scoreless innings and allowing just three hits.
However, Eovaldi has struggled since that outing. In his last 26 innings pitched, Eovaldi owns an unflattering 6.58 ERA, 4.29 FIP, and a 4.68 xFIP. Eovaldi, known for his outstanding control and pitch location, has uncharacteristically walked 3.1 batters per nine innings over this stretch.
Happ hasn’t been anything special for New York, but he’s been better than Eovaldi. Additionally, for whatever reason, the Boston Red Sox have always struggled to hit Happ. The Red Sox are facing an uphill battle to win the series opener.
Game Two: David Price vs Luis Severino
In Chris Sale’s absence, David Price has been the ace this team needed. In the second half of the season, Price owns a 1.56 ERA, 2.25 FIP, 9.4 K/9, and a 1.4 BB/9. By just about every measure possible, Price has been fantastic. In his last outing against the Yankees, Price threw 6+ innings of two-run ball as he put his Yankee struggles behind him.
Luis Severino, on the other hand, has struggled immensely in the second half. Since the second half of the season kicked off, the former Cy Young candidate owns an ugly 6.35 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. However, Severino’s been plagued by bad luck. Opposing hitters have an unsustainably high .396 BABIP against him, which has artificially inflated his ERA. His FIP sits at a more respectable 3.62, but this still is a different guy from earlier in the season. The Red Sox should take the second game of the series.
Game Three: Eduardo Rodriguez vs Masahiro Tanaka
Should the Red Sox choose to care in the third game of the series, they’ll send Eduardo Rodriguez out to face Masahiro Tanaka. Rodriguez has made three starts since coming off the disabled list, with mixed results. In his two good starts, Rodriguez pitched a combined 11.2 innings, allowing just two runs and eight hits while striking out 19. In his bad start against the Houston Astros, Rodriguez allowed five runs in just 3.1 innings.
Whichever version of E-Rod shows up likely determines the winner of this one. For what it’s worth, Rodriguez hasn’t pitched well against the Yankees this year. In 11 innings, Rodriguez has allowed a 4.09 ERA, 5.06 FIP, and a 4.1 BB/9 against New York this season. However, all of those innings came with a healthy Aaron Judge in the lineup. This game could go either way, but right now it looks like the Yankees have a slight upper hand.