9/11-9/13 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

Rooting for the Orioles (or Rays)
No Mercy
(Jamie Squire/Getty)

A mid-September series between the Yankees and Red Sox are supposed to be much more meaningful than this. Well, let me rephrase that. These games are obviously meaningful for the Yankees, but in terms of where they finish with respect to the Sox? Meaningless. Instead of the usual mid-September battle for AL East supremacy, we’ve got a midweek series between a first place team and a last place team.

What Have They Done Lately?

Boston is legit terrible right now. They just got swept by the Blue Jays at home and have won one (one!) of their last dozen games. That’s hard to believe. Since the big trade, the Sox are 3-12. Since August 1st, they are 10-27. Since Opening Day, they’re 63-78 with a -19 run differential. Boston is so bad that Brendan O’Toole of Over the Monster wrote about the last time they were this bad.


(Jim Rogash/Getty)

The Red Sox have averaged 4.7 runs per games with an almost perfectly league average team 99 wRC+ this year, but this isn’t the same team they fielded most of the season. David Ortiz (166 wRC+) is likely out for the season — he’ll miss at least this series — with an Achilles problem and he was their best hitter by no small margin. Adrian Gonzalez (114 wRC+) is now with the Dodgers and so is Carl Crawford (111 wRC+), who had a nice little run between DL stints. Will Middlebrooks (121 wRC+) is out with a wrist injury as well. That’s a lot of early-season offseason they don’t have anymore.

Among those still with the team, Cody Ross (125 wRC+) has been the best hitter all season. That said, I think we all agree that Dustin Pedroia (113 wRC+) is the guy we don’t want to see at the plate in a big spot. Jacoby Ellsbury (82 wRC+) hasn’t been able to build off last year’s MVP runner-up campaign due in part to a shoulder injury. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (94 wRC+) has power and little else, and he’s probably their third best hitter right now. James Loney (70 wRC+) has replaced Adrian at first base, and Scott Podsednik (94 wRC+) is playing everyday as well. Mike Aviles (74 wRC+) has seen his playing time cut a bit lately, and I think you’ll be happy to hear that Pedro Ciriaco (100 wRC+) is hitting .128/.146/.128 in the team’s last 13 games (48 plate appearances). Maybe the Yankees can actually get him out this week.

The lot of September call-ups is highlighted by Ryan Lavarnway (29 wRC+) and Daniel Nava (110 wRC+). Ryan Kalish is the spare outfielder, Guillermo Quiroz the third catcher, and Mauro Gomez and Ivan DeJesus Jr. the extra infielders. This certainly isn’t the kind of offense we’re used to see out of the Red Sox, who have averaged just 3.5 runs per game with a .253/.298/.366 batting line since the big trade with the Dodgers.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Jon Lester
It’s a case of too little, too late for the Red Sox and Lester, who has pitched to a 3.70 ERA (3.49 FIP) in his last seven starts (48.2 IP). Overall, he owns a 4.99 ERA (4.09 FIP) with a career-low strikeout rate (7.46 K/9 and 19.4 K%) and a career-high homer rate (1.13 HR/9). His walk rate (2.83 BB/9 and 7.4 BB%) is among the best marks of his career, so at least he has that going for him. Lester is a three-fastball guy, sitting around 92 with the four-seamer and sinker, but a notch below that with the cutter. His curveball sits in the mid-70s, the changeup in the mid-80s. The Yankees have had both good and bad games against Lester both this year and in recent years. There’s no mystery here.

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP David Phelps vs. RHP Aaron Cook
Cook’s defiance of defense independent pitching metrics came to a screeching halt right around the All-Star break, as he’s allowed 39 runs in his last nine starts (47 IP). His season performance sits at 5.17 ERA (5.01 FIP) in 14 starts, including stellar walk (1.76 BB/9 and 4.6 BB%) and ground ball (60.2%) rates. He doesn’t strike anyone out though, I’m talking a 1.88 K/9 and 4.9 K%. That’s the lowest strikeout rate in the last 50 years among pitchers who made at least 14 starts in a given season. That’s kinda ridiculous. Cook uses his upper-80s sinker about 80% of the time, with the rest being upper-80s sliders and mid-80s curveballs. The Yankees hung six runs on the for Rockie in four innings earlier this year.

Thursday: RHP Phil Hughes vs.LHP Felix Doubront
A pitcher’s first full season as a starter in the AL East tends to be up-and-down, and Doubront certainly started well before collapsing late. He’s allowed at least four runs in each of his last five starts, and only twice completed five full innings of work during that time. Forty-five baserunners in his last 21.1 innings have his season ERA at 5.21 (4.59 FIP) despite an excellent strikeout rate (9.09 K/9 and 22.7 K%). The walk (3.88 BB/9 and 9.7 BB%), ground ball (42.7%), and homer (1.47 HR/9) percentages aren’t anything to write home about. The 24-year-old southpaw uses both two- and four-seamers in the low-90s to set up his mid-70s curveball and mid-80s changeup. Doubront has made one good (one run in six innings) and one not-so-good (four runs in 6.1 innings) start against the Yankees this season. There’s talk that Boston may shut him down given his workload, in which case Daisuke Matsuzaka would likely make this start instead. Nothing is final though.

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Both the Yankees and Red Sox had Monday off, so everyone’s bullpen is fresh. It took a little longer than expected, but Andrew Bailey (4.41 FIP) has assumed closer duties after former Yankee Al Aceves (4.25 FIP) handled the ninth inning most of the season. Aceves is basically a mop-up man at this point, and there’s some speculation that he could move into the rotation and take Doubront’s spot during these final weeks. Given some shenanigans with manager Bobby Valentine, it’s possible Ace’s days in Boston are numbered.

Setup duties have fallen mostly on the shoulders of Vicente Padilla (3.77 FIP), who I’m sure is crushed that Mark Teixeira will miss the series. Andrew Miller (3.10 FIP) and deadline pickup Craig Breslow (3.37 FIP) are the two primary left-handers. Former Yankee Mark Melancon (5.24 FIP) joins Junichi Tazawa (2.20 FIP) and the broken Daniel Bard (6.19 FIP) as the right-handed middle relievers. Clayton Mortensen, Rich Hill, and former Yankee draft pick Chris Carpenter round out the rest of the bullpen. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for details on the Yankees’ relievers and the aforementioned Over the Monster for the latest and greatest on the Sox.

Rooting for the Orioles (or Rays)
No Mercy
  • Better off Eddard

    I don’t know why people think the Sox will get up for this series just because it’s the Yankees. I think the opposite. They want Bobby V fired and what better way to do it then get swept by their arch rival. They’ve checked out weeks ago and just want the season to end. Phelps should have a much better outing, Kuroda and Phil win their starts. Sweep.

    • MannyGeee

      I would be willing to bet a sizable amount to Bobby V not being in the dugout by Friday. Its par for the course for this sniveling disgrace of a management group to try and deflect from the ass kicking the Sox will be taking by “doing the right thing” and shit-canning Bobby Wednesday night.

      really, just horrible horrible people running the Red Sox.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Eddardville is a strange, strange land.

      I’m sure Dustin Pedroia would be perfectly fine with throwing a game to serve a “higher” purpose. Right.

      • jjyank

        I think it would be more fun than Yooboo Land.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Which one of these fuckers do you think is actually yooboo?

          • jjyank

            I would say Eddard, but the language style is too different. I’d wager he’s still here somewhere, though.

  • Richard Leo


  • jjyank

    Kill them all.

  • Mike Myers

    Wow, this team is a mess. This isnt a 1 year fix either. I think its going to take them 3 at least to contend. The free agent market aint what it used to be.

  • David K.

    Wow you guys are really swinging from one polar opposite to the other. What makes you think we’ll sweep Boston? The problems with the Yankees are fundamentally deep. We haven’t played very well since interleague this year. And that may be attributable to the national league teams not doing the shift or all the other stuff that we basically cannot adjust to. We’ll be fortunate to take 2 out of 3. We can’t hit Lester for shit, so game 1 is going to be tough.

    • Better off Eddard

      Excuse me? As many problems as we have the Sox have twice as many. They traded away their best player! They want their manager fired. They aren’t playing for anything which is a change for them. Fortunate to take 2/3? What makes you think they can hit Kuroda? The offense has been coming around lately thanks to Alex.

    • BiPolar


    • BiPolar


      • Jim Is Bored

        This comment would have been so much better if you’d said “Disagreed!” given your handle.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I was thinking the same thing.

  • dkidd

    expecting a padilla-related brawl at some point

    • MannyGeee

      Tex will lead the charge from the dug out. and nothing would make me happier

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    The thing is that “I beat the Yankees” looks good on a pitcher’s resume. Even if it’s one win he can brag about it. I don’t believe that their trying to get Valentine fired will get in the way of that team trying to beat us.

  • Kramerica Industries

    Nuke ’em and kill ’em.

    Sweep style.

  • effthisnoise

    dont be fooled by the Sox crappy play of late. they will be more than willing to show up and play against Yanks

    • gc

      …unless they aren’t.

      • effthisnoise

        dont get me wrong, I would love the yanks to go into Fenway and beat them into submission, but history says the Sox will definitely be up for these games.

        • MannyGeee

          history has nothing to do with it. they are a shell of their former selves. like Mike said above, aside from Pedroia and Lester, there aint much left.

        • Jim Is Bored

          If me and 8 of my friends were “up” for these games, we still would lose 500-0 against the Yankees.

          Talent >>>>> being “up” for the games.

          • effthisnoise

            Yanks will lose 2 out of 3. Calling it right now. Just remember I told you so. if you havent been paying attention, its the SCRUBS that kill the yankees. Just check CC’s last start.

            • gc

              Well as long as you get to tell everybody “I told you so,” then that’s all that really matters.

          • CP

            Apparently you don’t have the right friends.

  • Scout

    Caption for the Valentine photo: “Dead Man Walking.”

    • MannyGeee

      “What, me worry?”

      “What do you want from me? I only took the contract for the Fried Chicken!”

      “What do you want from me? Most of these guys are too fat, drunk, or stupid to manage?”

      This game is fun

    • dkidd

      “where’s the top step? i swear it was around here somewhere!”

  • Robinson Tilapia

    My mother always tought me not to make fun of those less fortunate, so I’ll refrain from asking for a total skullfucking.

    Besides, it doesn’t matter who’s on the team. Strange things happen when these two teams get together.

  • LarryM., Fl.

    There is plenty of bravado coming from the Yankee fans. I doubt the Red Sox will just go through the motions because of their present situation. Also, I hope the Yanks play up to their abilities and take at least 2 of 3.

    The Yanks are playing hurt and the players not injured are showing signs of fatigue. So it is no cake walk against Boston. When we make the playoffs then we can relax.

    Its still pins and needles time.

    • MannyGeee

      ” I doubt the Red Sox will just go through the motions because of their present situation”

      but they have been playing the way they have because of the present situation. like 25 guys who just kinda want to go home. dont let the ‘rivalry’ fool you, these guys suck.

  • MannyGeee

    These games are obviously meaningful for the Yankees, but in terms of where they finish with respect to the Sox? Meaningless

    Someone in ESPN just died a little inside. Not enough to find a better game to show tomorrow night, but still.

  • Ro

    I guess the thing that’s most alarming to me is that Phelps is starting over Nova tomorrow? I suppose the only rational behind that is to hopefully have him pitch well to possibly get his value up. Other than that, wouldn’t it be better to have Nova pitch, get him going before the end of the season, hopefully pitch well and maybe be a factor for the post-season. I see this as being a sign that Nova may not have a role in the post-season rotation even if the Yanks get there? I’d rather have Nova do a little work now in case they really need him for whatever reason down this final stretch.

    • Jay

      Hopefully Nova starts for Garcia

  • your mom

    They will still find a way to beat us twice this series. All because they have Pedro freaking Ciriaco and little Dusty Pedroia still.