Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com: (April 10, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)
Baseball’s best rivalry is back. For the first time in 14 years, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees are set to face off for winner-take-all October baseball. There’s truly nothing quite like it, and this series should be must-watch stuff from start to finish. For those who just can’t wait for Friday night, here’s an ALDS Game One Preview to hold you over until first pitch.
ALDS Game One Preview: Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees
First pitch: 7:32 PM
TV: TBS (check local listings)
Radio: WEEI (check local area)
Starting Pitchers: Sale vs Happ
While Red Sox fans can dream that Chris Sale takes the mound looking like an ace, there’s no way to know for sure until Friday night’s action happens. Sale missed a sizable portion of the second half with shoulder fatigue, and Alex Cora decided to play it safe by having Sale sit out when the Red Sox ace may have rather pushed through the pain.
Doing this may have thrown Sale’s mechanics out of whack. While both Cora and Sale say the lefty is perfectly fine health-wise, Sale’s velocity has decreased in each of the past four starts. Sale’s mechanics were off in his final regular season tune-up, but he’s since thrown bullpen sessions to sort out those mechanics.
With the Yankees ace Luis Severino having pitched the elimination game on Wednesday, they will turn to left-hander J.A. Happ. The southpaw was traded to New York right before the Trade Deadline and has been dominant for them since. In 11 starts, he has pitched to the tune of a 2.69 ERA and 4.21 FIP.
Happ has faced the Red Sox three times in 2018 and has done so with mixed results. Most notably, he surrendered two key grand slams to Boston with Mookie Betts and Steve Pearce blasting them, respectively, in different games.
For the season, Boston has fared much worse against left-handed pitchers than their right-handed counterparts. They have a 92 wRC+ against lefties this year.
Player to Watch: Judge
In the New York postseason primer article, I mentioned how Aaron Judge hasn’t been the same guy since coming back from his wrist injury. Well, the old Aaron Judge is officially back. In his last three games, including playoffs, Judge is 4-11 with a double and two home runs. While this is obviously a small sample, it’s more than enough for Red Sox fans to be worried.
While the Yankees have a plethora throughout their roster, Aaron Judge is far and away their best player. The entire offense runs through his bat, and there’s no denying that the Yankees are a different team without him. Containing Judge is step one if the Red Sox want to advance to the ALCS.
ALDS Game One Prediction
Call me an optimist, but I believe Chris Sale will have his mechanics exactly where they need to be for the series opener. Outside of Jacob DeGrom, nobody was better than Sale this year when he was healthy.
The Red Sox finished the year 10-9 against the Yankees, but they didn’t really try in the last six games, as the division was already wrapped up. Prior to that, the Sox went a more impressive 8-5 against New York, including a four-game sweep in August.
The Red Sox and Yankees offense are roughly equally matched, with the slight edge going to the Red Sox. The Yankees have a stronger bullpen, but the Red Sox have shown the ability to do damage against the unit.
GAME ONE PREDICTION: Red Sox 5, Yankees 3