8/17-8/19 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

Mailbag: Melky, Soriano, Swisher, Felix, Garcia
RAB Live Chat
I’m sure that was a not at all awkward conversation. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)

This is going to be a much different Yankees-Red Sox series than we’re used to seeing, at least in terms of its impact on the standings. We’re still going to have to sit through four-hour games and all the FOX/ESPN stuff, but in terms on actual impact, there is little to be gained or lost this weekend. The Yankees are far out in front of the rest of the AL East pack, the Red Sox way back.

What Have They Done Lately?

Other than a revolt against manager Bobby Valentine, the Sox are coming off a series-salvaging win over the Orioles yesterday. They lost two of three in Baltimore and ten of their last 15 games overall. At 58-61 with a +36 run differential, Boston is 13 games back of New York in the division race.


Hate you, Pedro. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

The Red Sox can still score runs despite their underwhelming season, averaging 4.9 runs per game with a team 101 wRC+. The Yankees are catching a bit of a break this weekend because David Ortiz (165 wRC+) is still out with his Achilles injury. That alone will save the Yankees like, six runs this weekend. He just kills them. Will Middlebrooks (121 wRC+), Daniel Nava (113 wRC+), and Ryan Sweeney (78 wRC+) are also on the DL.

Among the players that are healthy, you still have the very dangerous Adrian Gonzalez (117 wRC+), Cody Ross (126 wRC+), and Dustin Pedroia (102 wRC+). Carl Crawford (114 wRC+) is hitting well despite his imminent Tommy John surgery, though Jacoby Ellsbury (91 wRC+) has yet to really get it going since returning from his shoulder injury. The rest of the offense is filled out by the likes of Scott Podsednik (144 wRC+ in limited time), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (95 wRC+), Mike Aviles (77 wRC+), Nick Punto (60 wRC+), Ryan Lavarnway (-8 wRC+ in limited time), and Danny Valencia (-57 wRC+ in limited time). The always annoying Pedro Ciriaco (121 wRC+) will be, in fact, annoying. Because they’re carrying 13 pitchers, the Sox only have a three-man bench.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Franklin Morales
The Yankees have seen Morales a number of times this season, both as a starter and as a reliever. The 26-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 3.29 ERA (3.83 FIP) in 68.1 innings this season, with an excellent strikeout rate (9.22 K/9 and 24.6 K%) to go along with decent walk (3.56 BB/9 and 9.5 BB%) and ground ball (40.3%) numbers. Morales legitimately sits in the mid-90s with both his two and four-seamer, backing them up with a low-80s changeup and a mid-70s curveball. He has a rather significant platoon split — righties have gotten to him for a .317 wOBA, lefties just .218 — so it’s a good time to stack dem righties.

(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Saturday: RHP David Phelps vs. LHP Jon Lester
It’s been a very difficult year for Lester (5.20 ERA and 3.91 FIP), though he is coming off a one-run, six-inning, 12-strikeout performance against the Indians. His strikeout (7.90 K/9 and 20.5 K%) and ground ball (47.3%) percentages are his lowest since becoming a full-time starter five years ago, though his walk rate (2.69 BB/9 and 7.0 BB%) is his best ever. Lester, 28, is mostly low-90s with the four-seamer and sinker these days, and he tends to fall in love with his upper-80s cutter at times. That’s been blamed for his struggles this season, but whether it’s actually true is another thing. A mid-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball are his offspeed weapons of choice. The Yankees and their fans have seen an awful lot of Lester through the years, both the good and bad versions.

Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Josh Beckett
The other half of Boston’s disappointing frontline starter duo, the 32-year-old Beckett has posted a 5.19 ERA (4.14 FIP) in 20 starts this year while missing time with back and thumb issues. His strikeout rate (6.53 K/9 and 17.0 K%) is a career-low and his ground ball rate (40.8%) continues to trend downward from his first few years in Boston. Beckett still does limit walks well (2.60 BB/9 and 17.0 BB%), so he does have that going for him. Thanks to a rather noticeable drop-off in velocity, he now sits in the upper-80s/low-90s with his two-seamer, four-seamer, and cutter. His upper-80s changeup doesn’t have much separation from his fastball these days, which is why it’s been one of his least effective offerings. Beckett’s mid-70s curveball is still a knockout pitch, but he hasn’t done a good job of getting ahead in the count so he could put hitters away with it. Like Lester, we’ve seen everything this guy has to offer through the years.

The AL East hasn’t been kind to Mr. Melancon. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

Bullpen Status
The Sox are carrying 13 pitchers but only seven of them are relievers because they’re currently rolling with a six-man rotation. Clay Buchholz threw eight innings yesterday, so closer and former Yankee Al Aceves (3.93 FIP) was the only pitcher used out of the bullpen. He only threw 15 pitches as well, so for all intents and purposes, Bobby V.’s relief corps is as fresh as can be.

Vicente Padilla (3.56 FIP) is currently on the DL, so there will be no Mark Teixeira-induced fireworks this weekend. For shame. Scott Atchison (2.77 FIP) and Rich Hill (3.02 FIP) are also the shelf at the moment. The setup onus belongs to the recently activated Andrew Bailey (0.1 IP so far) and the left-handed Andrew Miller (3.23 FIP). Craig Breslow (3.54 FIP) gives them another solid matchup lefty. The rest of the Boston bullpen is filled out by former Yankee Mark Melancon (5.60 FIP), former Rockie Clayton Mortensen (4.30 FIP), and former Alex Rodriguez punching bag Junichi Tazawa (2.50 FIP). Overall, the Red Sox’s bullpen has pitched to a 3.35 ERA (3.85 FIP) this season.

The Yankees are in decent but not great bullpen shape after yesterday’s late-inning debacle. Both David Robertson and Rafael Soriano are well-rested, and Derek Lowe should be good to go now four days removed from his 44-pitch, four-inning save. Everyone else is a little taxed though. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the full details and Over The Monster for the best independent Red Sox coverage around.

Mailbag: Melky, Soriano, Swisher, Felix, Garcia
RAB Live Chat
  • blake

    Id love to sweep these bunch of cry babies and put them out of their misery….well in the standings….the misery would only be starting in bean town if they get swept this weekend. 2 of 3 would be fine….but driving the nails home would be awesome.

    • http://internet Alvin Mabrey

      It would really be great to go ahead and bury the Red Sux this weekend. Let’s go Yankees, stomp the Sux!!!!!!! Their a bunch of cry babies anyway.

  • your mom

    I’m not looking forward to seeing Giraffe Man. He just annoys the living shit out of me. Someone needs to curse him so he stops getting these lucky clutch hits against us.

    • captain kiwi

      yep. this weekend might be pressure-free, but fuck ciriaco.

  • IWannaBeAHirokstar

    I’d love to see the Lowe and Phelps combo again. If Phelps continues pitch the way he has he could be really valuable.

  • YanksFanInBeantown

    I love reading Over the Monster game threads.

    I almost feel sorry for them, but it’s just so funny.

    • jjyank

      The best was game 162 last year. Reading through thaat OTM game thread was freaking hilarious.

      • YanksFanInBeantown

        The Yankees were about to beat the Rays, they were up on the Orioles going into the ninth…

        and then everything goes to hell.

      • Gonzo

        I think the SOSH board for game 162 was pretty good too.

    • your mom

      Our game threads are just as funny sometimes.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        There’s nothing better than going back and reading a game thread you missed in which the Yanks came back and won.

        • Gonzo

          There’s nothing better than going back and reading a game thread you missed in which the Yanks came back and won Big Member posted.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Not BEING THERE when Big Member posted always makes me sad. It’s like I missed a live nip slip on TV.

  • jjyank


  • Kramerica Industries

    I would be content with two of three.

    With the divergent directions these two teams are headed in, this SHOULD be a sweep.

    But, for the love of God, I do not want to see the Yankees lose ANOTHER home series to this shitty baseball team. 4-12 in the last 16 games is bad enough. It’s long past high time for the Yankees to get back to winning these ballgames at home.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I don’t even want to see any of those fuckers leave the stadium alive.

    • YanksFanInBeantown

      Hey, we don’t want to do the Red Sox any favors here.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Fine. Let Pedroia live. Have him have to deal with the aftermath, play all nine positions, and sit in the dugout with Bobby, all by their lonesome.

        • YanksFanInBeantown


          But seriously, it’s like my JV Baseball coach once said:

          “They’re on the ground. We’ve got our foot on their throats. Let’s crush their fuckin’ throats!”

  • Dave

    Just listened to Mike Lupica openly root for the Red Sox and kiss Voldemort aka Larry Lucchino’s arse.

    And the little troll wonders why Yankee fans despise him?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I’m at the office in which I DON’T have a radio. Otherwise, I’d be listening, I’m sure. I imagine you’re overstating this a bit.

      I don’t mind 2012 Lupica. He’s worlds away from 1987 Lupica.

      • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

        Lupica is still a nightmare. His high pitch whiny voice is unbearable over the radio.

        I love when he writes a column about social issues or politics and thinks anyone gives a shit about what he has to say. His opinions about sports are barely relevant.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    As an old Yankee fan, I am like the old Yankees, never underestimate your opponent, never ridicule it or show him up. That said, I should like very much to sweep these guys.

    • Deep Thoughts

      Thank you, Jose. That’s a great sentiment. They’re the ones whose fans are supposed to be the mental patients, not us. Just go about your business, kick their butts like you do everyone else’s, and prepare for the next game.

  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

    Number 1 reason to bury the Red Sux this weekend is to make Bobby V’s living hell in Boston just a little more miserable.

    I can’t wait to see him get fired and run to the nearest report to trash the players responsible.

    • Paul VuvuZuvella

      I’ve been waiting all season. For the sux fans to change the lyrics of Sweet Caroline to Sack Valentine. So bad, so bad, so bad!

  • Ellen

    I call it the Valentine massacre. I knew from the start he would be a disaster for the red sux. lol lol.they hired him now they can live with him. Go Yankees!!!

  • The Real Greg

    One rule.

    Avoid being swept.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Two of three would be just fine with me. It’s really not about the Red Sox to me anymore. It’s about keeping the division lead where it is and staying ahead of the Rangers for best record. The Sox are just another team to beat right now.

    Do Not Let Ciriaco Beat You!!!


  • FreeAgentSignee

    Go Yankees!

  • tommy cassella

    a sweep would be great against the sox.