Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com (April 10, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)
Baseball is at its best when the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are good at the same time. Because of this, the 2018 season has been one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory. The Red Sox and Yankees are arguably the two best teams in the league and are currently 3-3 against each other. The race for the division should be tight all season, and every game matters if the Red Sox want to avoid the Wild Card game. Without further ado, here is the Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees series preview.
Series Preview: Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have one of the best offenses in the league and don’t really have an easy out in the lineup. The Yankees as a team currently rank third in runs scored, first in home runs, and second in OPS. To say this offense is dangerous is a drastic understatement.
The scariest part of the ferocious lineup is the power-hitting duo of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. While both players are prone to strikeouts, both have the ability to completely change the course of the game every time they step into the box. Judge has built on his rookie year to become one of the best players in the league. Judge is currently slashing .277/.397/.553 to go along with a 158 wRC+. While some of that production is inflated by a .363 BABIP, his 20 home runs show he’s a threat every time he comes up to the plate.
Stanton was never going to repeat the heroics of his 2017 season, but he’s still been a solid addition for the Yankees. Through 77 games, Stanton owns a .265/.337/.510 slash line, good for a 128 wRC+. He’s not hitting for power the way he was in 2017, but his 19 home runs midway through the season are impressive nonetheless.
In order to acquire Stanton, the Yankees had to send all-star second baseman Starlin Castro over to the Miami Marlins. However, New York hasn’t missed his production, as stud rookie Gleyber Torres has stepped in to become a major contributor. Midway through his first major league season, Torres owns a .284/.341/.537 slash line, 137 wRC+, and an impressive .258 isolated power. Torres entered the season as one of the top prospects in baseball, and he appears to be ahead of schedule in his development.
While the Yankees offense garners a lot of attention, their bullpen has been one of the best in the season. Everyone knows Aroldis Chapman can throw heat, but the rest of the unit has been fantastic as well. The Yankees pen has the third-lowest ERA in baseball (2.68) and the most strikeouts league-wide (363). If the Red Sox are going to win these upcoming games, they’ll need to do damage against the starters.
Game One: Eduardo Rodriguez vs CC Sabathia
The ageless wonder that is CC Sabathia continues to be a solid mid-rotation arm for New York. Through 14 starts, Sabathia owns a 3.18 ERA, 4.19 FIP, and a 7.19 K/9 rate. He’s not the pitcher he once was, but he’s still a more than capable starter.
Sabathia has completely reinvented himself as a pitcher in his later years. While he used to be known for his blazing fastball, the former Cy Young winner has developed into a much more cerebral pitcher. Sabathia is now a four-pitch pitcher, featuring his cutter as his primary offering. In addition to his 89 mph cutter, Sabathia throws a slider, fastball, and changeup.
Eduardo Rodriguez struggled in his last outing, but he’s had a strong season overall. Through the young season, the lefty owns a 3.86 ERA, 3.55 FIP, and an impressive 10.14 K/9. The 25-year old is having the best season of his young career and looks to be one of the better mid- to late-rotation arms in all of baseball.
Most of this improved production is thanks to his cutter. Entering the season, Red Sox Unfiltered wrote that Eddie needs a third pitch to take his game to the next level. Instead of the slider, Rodriguez has used the cutter as his third pitch. Despite rarely using his cutter prior to this season, Rodriguez is now throwing it 19% of the time. Combined with his fastball, changeup, and slider, Rodriguez is able to keep hitters constantly off-balance. He has the potential to be a top of the rotation arm if he could go deeper into games.
This should be a close matchup that could go either way. The Red Sox should do some decent damage against Sabathia, but this game may come down to the bullpen. It’s hard to imagine Rodriguez going too deep against the Yankee lineup, and the bullpen might need to go three innings or more. If that happens, the Yankees have the advantage.
Game Two: Chris Sale vs Sonny Gray
Sonny Gray used to be one of the best pitchers in the American League, but his best days are behind him. The righty hasn’t had an ERA below 3.55 since 2015, and 2018 has been rough on Gray. Through 15 starts, Gray has an unimpressive 4.93 ERA, 4.20 FIP, and pedestrian 8.18 K/9. While he hasn’t been a complete bust, he’s clearly not the pitcher the Yankees hoped they were getting last season.
Gray mixed his fastball, slider, cutter, and curveball pretty evenly, and throws a changeup on rare occasion. The biggest surprise with Gray’s 2018 has been the addition of his cutter. Over the course of his career, Gray has thrown the offering just 3.5% of the time. However, he’s throwing it 22.9% of the time in 2018. The pitch sits at essentially the same velocity as his fastball, which limits its effectiveness. Still, Gray’s willingness to use all four pitches has the potential to frustrate the Red Sox if each pitch is working.
Chris Sale, meanwhile, is in the midst of another Cy Young caliber season. The lefty has been as dominant as ever, most recently going seven scoreless innings against the Seattle Mariners. The Yankees offense is imposing, but Sale should be able to keep them in line. Even at his best, the Red Sox have historically done well against Gray. Expect the Red Sox to pull out a victory in this one.
Game Three: David Price vs Luis Severino
The one bad thing about Pedro Martinez is that he taught Luis Severino how to pitch. The ace of the Yankees staff is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball and has been dominating teams all season long. Through 17 starts, Severino owns a 2.10 ERA, 2.21 FIP, and a 10.64 K/9 to just a 2.10 BB/9. Put simply, he’s been absolutely dominant by just about every measure.
However, there is hope for the Red Sox. Severino has historically struggled against several members of the Red Sox lineup. Andrew Benintendi, in particular, sees Severino particularly well. In 19 plate appearances against Severino, Benintendi owns a .474/.524/1.000 slash line with two doubles, a triple, and a home run. Additionally, the Sox are responsible for Severino’s worst outing of the year. On April 10th, the Red Sox knocked Severino for five earned runs in five innings in a 14-1 victory.
David Price has historically struggled against the Yankees, but there’s reason to believe he’ll turn it around on Sunday. For one, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez will not be in the lineup. Sanchez is on the 10-day disabled list and will miss the three-game series. Sanchez and Price have faced off 12 times, with Sanchez recording six hits and five home runs.
Even if Sanchez were in the lineup, Price’s recent performances have instilled confidence in his ability to slow down any offense in the game. Since May 12th, Price has thrown 56.1 innings to the tune of a 2.72 ERA, 3.42 FIP, and a 9.1 K/9 rate. He’s been the second-best pitcher on the club, and he’s been proving his haters wrong all season. He’ll continue to do that Sunday.
The Red Sox and Yankees are must-see TV, and this series should be one of the most competitive of the season. However, the Red Sox should be able to pull off a series win. The Red Sox offense can keep up with the Yankee offense, and the Red Sox have better starting pitching. All three games should be close, but the Red Sox should come away with the series win.