Red Sox @ Yankees Series Preview

The Yankees have now won six of their last seven and are now playing some of their baseball of the season coming out of last week’s west coast trip.  When I first took an in-depth look at this road trip and saw the caliber of pitching they were facing, I was hoping that things would lighten up a bit and there would be a light at the end of the tunnel.  Unfortunately, the fun is just beginning as the Yanks will take on the Red Sox this week in a three game set.

Big Papi still putting up the big numbers. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The Red Sox are a much different team than they were the first two times the Bombers took them on this season.  They have started to roll on all cylinder getting back to .500 after that awful 2-10 start, and even were in first place in the American League East at one point last week.  Carl Crawford has started to play the way everyone has expected and fellow big Boston acquisition Adrian Gonzalez has continued to play like an MVP.  The Sox come into this series on a three game winning streak and having won six of their last ten.

(AP Photo)

As a team, the Sox have been great offensively having the best batting average, on-base percentage, wOBA (tied with the Yankees), and wRC+ and are in the top five in slugging percentage, BB%, and homers.  The offense is led by Gonzalez and Crawford as I said above, but also Jacoby Ellsbury, who is hitting .299/.360/.453, and David Ortiz, who is hitting .325/.392/.594 with 13 homers.  Here’s a look at their projected lineup:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
  5. David Ortiz, DH
  6. Jed Lowrie, SS
  7. Carl Crawford, LF
  8. Mike Cameron, RF
  9. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

The Red Sox starting rotation as a whole has been nothing amazing pitching at a 4.13 ERA, 4.23 FIP, and a 1.33 WHIP.  Their peripherals are okay as well as they have the second highest strikeout rate, but also have the second highest walk rate.  They don’t go relatively deep into games, however, only throwing 349 innings, the fourth least in the American League.  Here are the projected pitching match-ups:

Tuesday

Jon Lester (7-2, 3.94 ERA) vs. Freddy Garcia (4-4, 3.34 ERA)

Wednesday

Tim Wakefield (2-1, 4.40 ERA) vs. AJ Burnett (6-3, 3.86 ERA)

Thursday

Josh Beckett (4-2, 2.01 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (7-3, 2.80 ERA)

The most intriguing match-up here is obviously Thursday night’s heavyweight fight between the team’s two best starters.  The Yankees better make the best of it since Joe Girardi moved Sabathia up to pitch against the Sox by flipping him and Ivan Nova.

I hate him more than words can explain. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Finally, the Red Sox bullpen has not been great this season pitching to a 4.26 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP, but they have posted a 3.46 FIP so they haven’t had great luck.  Their inputs support that posting the lowest walk rate at 3.07 BB/9 and the third highest strikeout rate at 8.08 K/9 in the American League.  Daniel Bard got off to a tough start as did Bobby Jenks.  Jonathan Papelbon, however, has been fantastic, coincidentally on his contract year, although he did blow a save last week.

The keys for the Yankees this series are very simple.  They need to keep hitting.  Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher are starting to heat up which is nice and it is starting to take pressure of other guys, hence, making them start to hit better.  They also need their starters to pitch deep in to games and keep them in the game.  Their bullpen is very depleted although well-rested with yesterday’s day off, and they need as much depth from their starter  as possible.  Lastly, is Boone Logan.  Logan has been seemingly avoided by Girardi and if he can’t get the lefties out in this series, we could see Randy Flores soon.  Hopefully he does though and he can make a nice late push like he did last season.

So there we have it.  The stage is set.  The Yankees sit one game up over the Red Sox in the American League East, something that will not be true by the end of the season.  It’s time to show the BoSox that we can stand up to them in head to head games and it starts tonight.

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