The only thing certain is the Yankees will play the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium beginning on Thursday for four games. Last minute pitching decisions loom…
The Yankees starting pitchers for the upcoming four-game series against the Boston Red Sox is filled with a bunch of TBD’s, and it’s not a strategy ruse because the Yankees simply don’t know.
The Red Sox manager, Alex Cora, made the first move as though it was a chess match when he pushed back Chris Sale one day so he can make the start for Thursday’s opener at Yankee Stadium. Eduardo Rodriguez (5-3), Rick Porcello (4-4), and David Price (2-2) will follow in their regular turns.
Yankees Starting Pitching In Flux
For the Yankees, it’s not quite as simple as they have a lot of ifs, maybes, and buts surrounding their starting staff. James Paxton has been cleared by team doctors to pitch, but he still needs to pass another “how are you feeling” test tomorrow morning after a scheduled workout today.
CC Sabathia is a maybe for Sunday’s final game, but again that’s dependent on how he responds to further treatment for that ever balky knee. If CC is not ready, Masahiro Tanaka can make the start on regular rest.
Quietly, Tanaka has been the second most reliable starter for the Yankees. He has five no-decisions in which he has pitched six or more innings and given up two or fewer runs.
The Yankees would especially like to see the gritty Sabathia in there, but JA Happ (4-3), has come on strong of late, winning three of his last four starts with one no-decision.
Domingo German (9-2) got banged up pretty good in his start in a loss to the Royals on Sunday, but the immediate concern is the 84 and 93 pitches to get through only five innings in each of his last two starts.
He will be watched closely by Yankee’s pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, for the beginning signs of tiring, and the leash on German will tighten as the team takes hold of the fact he’s never pitched more than 115 innings in a season. At 60 innings so far, German is on pace to hurl 180 innings, and the Yankees will simply not let that happen.
While the Yankees starting pitching is in flux, the bullpen has been the saving grace for shortened starts and programmed openers. In yesterday’s win over the Padres, for instance, Aaron Boone used Chad Green as his opener in lieu of not having a regular starter available. Green promptly blew away the top of San Diego’s order, recording three strikeouts and setting the tone for the game.
Boone could do the same when Domingo German is scheduled against the Red Sox, giving the illusion that German is pitching deeper into the game by following Green’s one or two innings.
It’s About The Bats
But as we know, Yankees – Red Sox series are seldom won by starting pitching. As expected, the Yanks and Boston have ranked three and four in runs scored this year, topped only by the amazing Twins and the Dodgers. The Bombers hold the edge in home runs 85-78, and both teams are in fifth place tied with a .258 team batting average. So let’s call the team stats even.
However, the difference this year is the teams are juxtaposed in the standings from last year. The Red Sox are looking up at the Yankees, a full 6.5 games behind as play begins on Tuesday. Which means no matter what happens, the Yankees will hold their place above Boston when they leave town on Sunday.
But just as it was last year in reverse for the Red Sox, this is no consolation to the Yankees, who are in the midst of a torrid May run of 18-6 with a run scored differential of 129-96 (+33). Thus, the challenge is to trudge on, keeping the fire burning.
Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, Cameron Maybin, DJ LeMahieu, and Clint Frazier will get their first taste of the Yankees/Red Sox Rivalry, putting aside that brief and early two-game sweep by the Yankees. The Sox were down then. Not so now.
Yankees/Red Sox: A Reversal In Fortune
Still, more and more it’s feeling like the 2019 season belongs to the Yankees, no matter what the Red Sox do. Just as it was last season when the Yankees could not touch the air Boston was flying in.
At this time last year, everyone wanted to know if the Red Sox could maintain the rare air they were traveling in. As we know now, they did.
The question now shifts to the New York Yankees. A 2-2 split is a win for the Yankees. A 3-1 split, either way, scores an exclamation point, but neither team is destroyed, especially because the teams will meet for another thirteen times as the season moves along.
Tucked away in the drama are the Tampa Bay Rays sitting in second place. The Rays will be playing the sizzling Minnesota Twins, holders of the best record in baseball for four games.
All of which means we should be able to sit back and enjoy the competition between two rivals and two of the best teams in baseball, for four days, and just for fun and our love of baseball, played at its highest level…