Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com (Oct. 4, 2018 – Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America)
It may have taken five years off the average viewers’ life, but the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees in Game One and now hold a 1-0 series lead. There’s no time to enjoy the victory, as the Red Sox are back at it again on Saturday night. Find out everything you need to know heading into Saturday’s game with the ALDS Game Two Preview.
ALDS Game Two Preview: Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees
First pitch: 8:15 PM
TV: TBS (check local listings)
Radio: WEEI (check local area)
Your Starting Ace: David Price
Saturday night’s playoff match is a tale of two narratives for David Price. On the one hand, Price has been absolutely dominant for the better part of three months. Since July 12th, Price owns a 2.41 ERA with a 3.54 FIP, 9.2 K/9, and a 1.9 BB/9. In Chris Sale’s absence, Price has been the ace of the team and everything the Red Sox thought they were getting when they signed him back in 2016.
On the other side of the narrative is Price’s troubling history with both the playoffs and the Yankees. We already took a deep dive into Price’s perceived postseason troubles, so we won’t spend too much time on that here. Instead, let’s talk about his struggles against New York.
Price has struggled against the Yankees, there’s no denying that. However, Price will be pitching in Fenway Park, which should be a huge help for the lefty. In his most recent outing against the Yankees at Fenway, Price went six innings while allowing just two runs.
During his Red Sox career, Price owns a 5.46 ERA while pitching against the Yankees at Fenway. While that’s obviously not a great number, the underlying peripherals look a lot better. Price’s 3.69 FIP is almost two full points lower than his ERA, which suggests the lefty has been horrifically unlucky against New York in Fenway. He allows ground balls 44.8% of the time and fly balls just 32.2% of the time while striking out 7.2 batters per nine innings and walking just 1.9.
Baseball is very much a game of luck, and luck has not been on Price’s side when he’s faced New York at Fenway. Fortunately, luck is completely random by nature, and statistically speaking, Price is due for some good luck after being so unlucky for the better part of three years.
Know Your Enemy: Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka just finished up another solid season for the New York Yankees. The Yankees righty finished his 2018 season with a 3.75 ERA and a 4.01 FIP. On the whole, it was a good season for Tanaka, but there’s reason to believe the Red Sox can knock him around in Game Two.
Tanaka struggled mightily against the powerful Red Sox offense in 2018. In 19 innings, Tanaka allowed a 7.58 ERA and a 6.16 FIP against Boston. He was slightly better at Fenway, allowing a 6.52 ERA and a 5.64 FIP in 9.2 innings pitched.
That said, those numbers are far from good and should be a positive omen for the Boston Red Sox. Even if the bad David Price takes the mound for Game Two, the Red Sox should be able to put a lot of runs on the board against Tanaka.
Player to Watch: Gary Sanchez
While Gary Sanchez was something of a disappointment during the 2018 season, the Yankees catcher could be the difference in this game. For whatever reason, David Price has just not found a way to get Sanchez out throughout the course of his career.
Sanchez has faced Price 13 times in his professional career. Sanchez has recorded a hit in six of those 13 plate appearances, including a staggering five home runs. This adds up to a career slash line of .462/.588/.1.615, far and away Sanchez’ best numbers against a pitcher.
If David Price is to overcome his Yankee woes, the first thing he must do is find a way to get Sanchez out. If he can’t do that, there’s a high probability the Red Sox drop Game Two of the series.
ALDS Game Two Prediction
This game has the makings of a shootout. The Red Sox have dominated Tanaka all year, and the underlying peripherals say that luck had very little to do with it. Price has struggled against the Yankees, but the underlying numbers say a lot of bad luck went into that.
Call me eternally optimistic, but I Price will put together six innings of three-run ball. After that, a properly-managed bullpen will come in and allow one run over the remaining three innings. The Red Sox will get to Tanaka early, putting up four runs in just over three innings. The Yankees bullpen will take over from there, but they’ll allow three runs over the remainder of the game thanks to overuse.
Game Two Prediction: Red Sox 7, Yankees 4