7/19-7/21 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

Gomes. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Gomes. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

It’s hard to believe this is the first time the Yankees have visited Fenway Park this season, isn’t it? That means nine of their final 37 road games — roughly one out of every four — will be played up in Boston. It is what it is. The Red Sox have won four of six meetings between the two historic rivals this season.

What Have They Done Lately?
Before the All-Star break, Boston lost two of three to the Athletics and split a ten-game West Coast trip right down the middle, five wins and five losses. At 58-39 with a +91 run differential, the Sawx are in first place in the AL East, have the best record in the AL, and have the third best record in MLB.

The Red Sox have no trouble putting runs on the board. They lead baseball with an average of 5.13 runs per game and rank second with a team 113 wRC+. They’re even better at home (119 wRC+), as you can imagine. Boston is currently without SS Stephen Drew (92 wRC+) and C David Ross (80 wRC+), but Drew is likely to return sometime this weekend. I suppose it could be as soon as tonight.

Smellsbury. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Ellsbury. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

The top of manager John Farrell’s lineup falls right into place. CF Jacoby Ellsbury (113 wRC+) leads off, RF Shane Victorino (100 wRC+) bats second, 2B Dustin Pedroia (126 wRC+) bats third, DH David Ortiz (163 wRC+) bats fourth, and 1B Mike Napoli (113 wRC+) bats fifth. OF Daniel Nava (118 wRC+), OF Jonny Gomes (97 wRC+), and 1B/LF Mike Carp (159 wRC+ in limited time) rotate in based on matchups. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (113 wRC+) is the primary backstop with Ross injured.

IF Brock Holt (73 wRC+) has been playing third with Drew out while IF Jose Iglesias (141 wRC+) subs in at short. Once Drew is healthy, Iglesias will play third. UTIL Brandon Snyder (95 wRC+ in limited time) and C Ryan Lavarnway (77 wRC+ in limited time) round out the bench. The Red Sox are only a middle of the pack homer-hitting team with 98 dingers, but this lineup will wear pitchers down and capitalize on mistakes. It’s what the Yankees’ offense used to be.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Friday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP Felix Doubront
The Sox aren’t stupid. They know the Yankees struggle against lefties (77 wRC+), so they made sure to line up their rotation accordingly this weekend. Doubront, 25, has a 3.91 ERA (3.63 FIP) in 16 starts and one relief appearance this year. His strikeout rate (8.45 K/9 and 21.6 K%) is down from last year and his walk rate (3.91 BB/9 and 10.1 BB%) is unchanged, so his improvement comes from more grounders (46.7%) and fewer homers (0.73 HR/9 and 8.5% HR/FB). Doubront will use low-90s two- and four-seamers as well as a mid-to-upper-80s cutter to set up his mid-70 curveball and low-80s changeup. He doesn’t have much of a platoon split because of that repertoire. The Yankees haven’t been able to touch Doubront since the start of the last season, and that includes a six-inning, one-run start earlier this year.

Lackey. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Lackey. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Saturday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP John Lackey
The 34-year-old Lackey has a brand new elbow following Tommy John surgery and the performance results are startling. He’s got a 2.78 ERA (3.83 FIP) in 16 starts with dynamite peripherals: 8.34 K/9 (22.5 K%), 2.06 BB/9 (5.6 BB%), 1.26 HR/9 (15.6% HR/FB), and 51.6% grounders. The homers are an eyesore, but you can live with them considering everything else. Lackey is primarily a three-pitch pitcher, using his low-90s four-seamer, mid-to-upper-80s cutter, and upper-70s curveball more than 90% of the time combined. He will, however, mix in the rare low-90s two-seamer, mid-80s slider, and low-80s changeup. Like, one or two of each per start. Lackey has been around a while; the Yankees have seen him plenty over the years.

Sunday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Jon Lester
Lester, 29, has a 4.58 ERA (4.17 FIP) in 20 starts this year, but it’s been a tale of two seasons for him. He had a 2.72 ERA (3.01 FIP) in his first nine starts and a 6.27 ERA (4.98 FIP) in his last eleven starts. I don’t get it, he should be so much better. Lester’s strikeout (7.38 K/9 and 19.1 K%) and walk (3.22 BB/9 and 8.4 BB%) numbers are good but not great, and he gives up a decent amount of homers (1.07 HR/9 and 11.9% HR/FB) despite getting plenty of grounders (47.8%). He’s a true five-pitch pitcher who uses three distinct fastballs — low-90s four-seamer, low-90s sinker, upper-80s cutter — as well as a mid-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball. Word on the street is he gets into trouble when he falls in love with his cutter and starts using it almost exclusively. There are no secrets here, the Yankees have seen Lester plenty of times over the years, both the good and bad versions.

(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Farrell’s bullpen is pretty beat up, with LHP Andrew Miller, LHP Franklin Morales, and RHP Joel Hanrahan out long-term. RHP Koji Uehara (2.40 FIP) is the closer right now while RHP Junichi Tazawa (3.11 FIP) and RHP Andrew Bailey (4.77 FIP) do the setup thing. The recently acquired LHP Matt Thornton (4.87 FIP) will be in the late-inning mix as well.

LHP Craig Breslow (3.43 FIP) headlines the rest of the Boston bullpen. RHP Pedro Beato (1.73 FIP in limited time) and LHP Drake Britton (has not pitched) fill out the last two spots. Britton’s next appearance will be the first of his big league career. If the Red Sox have a weakness, it’s definitely their middle relief.

The All-Star break means both bullpens are fresh, but check out our Bullpen Workload page anyway. Over The Monster is the best of all the Red Sox blogs.

Categories : Series Preview
  • trr

    This is it. Nut Cuttin’ Time. How this team plays and (what the F/O does) should determine how the rest of the season goes. It all starts tonight, and what better to way to send a statement then winning 2/3 @ Fenway

  • Matt

    This is one of the biggest series of the season thus far, and the Yankees HAVE a reinforcement who is healthy and ready to go in A-Rod, and yet they are having him play 3 games in AAA instead this weekend?

    Are they insane?

    He could completely change the look of this lineup right now even if his timing is not 100%. It makes me wonder whether this front office is serious about winning anymore. It’s nothing close to the Jeter situation because he has already exhausted nearly his entire rehab stint.

    What difference will 3 more days make if they get swept and drop big time in the standings?

    • Colombo

      See: Jeter, Derek

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals


        plus we aren’t positive that we aren’t racing to the front of the insurance fraud line, either


    • I’m One

      Let’s see, didn’t they do something like that with Jeter? If he were to get hurt, the complaints would be unbearable.

    • Duh Injuries

      What part of “If the Yanks activate Alex Rodriguez they owe him his entire $28M salary for 2013 but they’re not gonna spend $28M for a little under 2.5 months of regular season baseball” do you not understand?

      Alex Rodriguez will be put on the 60-day disabled list on August 1 thus shut down for the season and the Yanks will collect $28M in insurance money on his 2013 salary then offer him that and half his remaining salary ($43M) to get lost in the offseason and he’ll take that $71M (a loss of only $15M in guaranteed salary as he’s guaranteed $86M through 2017 minus whatever he makes after 2013 with whoever signs him if anyone Or that’s what I think they should do. He’s done, finished as the player he was, so it makes no sense to pay him when you can simply collect insurance money and what the fuck does he care as he’s being paid his full salary for as long as he is a Yankee?

      Why do you think the Yanks gave David Adams a 128 PA look at 3B and the rookie minimum since he collected at least 110 PA or AB? They wanted to see if he could be the new 3B and he showed them he could at least play a decent 3B and certainly a better 3B than Alex Rodriguez. Why do you think they signed Eric Jagielo for $1,839,400? Cuz they envision him as their 2015 or 2016 3B although I’d have him compete for the 3B job with Adams in 2014 spring training. The Yanks have moved on from Alex Rodriguez who will never play another game for them again. Proof is he was not activated for this series, hands down the most important one for the Yankees to date, so when is he gonna be activated?

      • Colombo

        You might want to take a breahter, Champ. Sit the next few plays out.

        Why does everyone keep insisting the Yankees/ARod/Insurance Company X are going to attempt/allow insurance fraud? The writing on the wall is that Alex will be activated on Monday. His rehab assignment is coming to a close, and he is hitting the ball well while playing in 4 (and counting) consecutive games. The ARod hate is out of control sometimes.

        Also, Alex/MLBPA will never go for a buyout where a player leaves money on the table, let alone a sum that large. This isn’t the NFL, every dollar of that contract is guaranteed, whether ARod is hitting 40 HRs a year or only getting 1 AB.

      • Mr.Roth

        “Proof is he was not activated for this series, hands down the most important one for the Yankees to date, so when is he gonna be activated?”

        Hasn’t the team confirmed that he’ll be activated on Monday? Yes, they have. Dummy…

      • Ed

        What part of “If the Yanks activate Alex Rodriguez they owe him his entire $28M salary for 2013 but they’re not gonna spend $28M for a little under 2.5 months of regular season baseball” do you not understand?

        It’s a guaranteed contract. They owe him the money either way.

        Alex Rodriguez will be put on the 60-day disabled list on August 1 thus shut down for the season

        He’s been on the 60 day disabled list since opening day.

        and the Yanks will collect $28M in insurance money on his 2013 salary

        They’ve been collecting money already. There are deductibles, and he’s probably not insured for 100% of the value, so they wouldn’t get $28M anyway, but they have most likely already been covered for the majority of the money he’s been owed so far this season.

        They also can’t just collect the insurance money because they don’t want him to play. The insurance companies (you need more than one policy on a contract that big) won’t pay out unless they agree he’s unable to play. Considering he’s hitting home runs in minor league games right now and the team is publicly talking about activating him on Monday, no insurance company will agree that A-Rod can’t play.

        Even with a legit case, it’s often difficult to get the insurance companies to pay. Look up how Jeff Bagwell’s career ended. He couldn’t lift his throwing arm above his shoulder, yet the Astros had to fight for over a year to get the insurance payout.

        then offer him that and half his remaining salary ($43M) to get lost in the offseason and he’ll take that $71M (a loss of only $15M in guaranteed salary

        Why would A-Rod agree to give up $15M ?

        Why would the Yankees want to pay A-Rod $71M to *not* play for them? He’s far from an MVP level player nowadays, but he was still an above average 3B last year.

        And as we’ve seen with the failed A-Rod to Boston trade, the union won’t allow anything that reduces the money he’s owed.

        Why do you think the Yanks gave David Adams a 128 PA look at 3B and the rookie minimum since he collected at least 110 PA or AB?

        Because they didn’t have anyone better after Youkilis got hurt. If you’re on the 25 man roster, you make the major league minimum. How much playing time you get doesn’t matter.

        Why do you think they signed Eric Jagielo for $1,839,400?

        Because they felt Jagielo was the best player available at that spot in the draft, and that’s the slot value assigned by MLB to that pick.

        Cuz they envision him as their 2015 or 2016 3B although I’d have him compete for the 3B job with Adams in 2014 spring training.

        You’re in for a lot of disappointment if you expect a late first round draft pick to compete for a major league starting job in his first spring training.

        so when is he gonna be activated?

        They’ve been saying Monday for a while now.

  • Kramerica Industries

    I don’t want to post this in the game thread, so it goes here instead…

    Nearly nine years after the 2004 ALCS, and that series STILL cuts like a knife deep into my body. It’s still so hard to believe how many chances the Yankees had to put away that series, and failed to do so. That damn series always comes back to mind when the Yankees and Red Sox meet, and until the Yankees either comeback from 3-0 OR the Red Sox blow a 3-0 themselves, I’m never going to be able to fully live that down.

    Yeah, yeah, stuck in the past and everything, I get it. Sometimes, worst sports memories are something that can never be fully forgotten.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      We can always make an exception for 2004. Always. Easily my worst moment as a fan.

      • trr

        For myself, I live in abject denial that it ever happened, dismissing it as an urban myth when confronted by drooling, odious red sox “fans”.

        But yes, Kramerica, your pain is palpable, and felt by all true
        Yankee fans. It is truly hard to believe that such an obscenity ever happened.

        Walk on through the wind,
        Walk on through the rain,
        Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown.
        Walk on, walk on
        With hope in your heart
        And you’ll never walk alone,
        You’ll never walk alone.

        • Bavarian Yankee

          wait, is this a Liverpool blog now?

          • Kramerica Industries

            Jeez, and think about the connections between Liverpool and the Red Sox!

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I sat in a room with about, easily, 20-25 Yankee fans and one Sox fan that night. I remember it so well. Just dead silence.

          • MannyGeee – Proven Starter

            I hate even thinking about it to this day. I still hate Johnny Damon for what he did to us that night. I then love him for 2009. But not as much as I loathe the 2004 thing. Must have been the beard.

            As an aside, he looked goddam goofy without facial hair. Even goofier than with the creepy rapey woodsman beard.

      • vicki

        game 7 of the 2001 ws was worse.

        i’m with trr; 2004 almost doesn’t seem real. like it never happened, except for the resultant torre-hate, which lives to this day.

    • SDB

      You shouldn’t be this miserable on a Friday. Watch this and feel better.

      • Kramerica Industries

        Losing the World Series to the fucking Marlins makes it harder for me to appreciate that moment, in retrospect.

        T’was a scintillating game with a scintillating climax. Words cannot describe how much I (we) would’ve loved to look back at that as the most exhilarating moment of the Yankees 1996-2003 dynasty years.

      • the Other Steve S.

        For sheer sonic madness, you can’t beat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeKgVPyM-Ms

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Well, this should be interesting.

    My only prediction is that the sky, or other shoe, will not, in fact, drop in Fenway Park this weekend.

  • Hassey

    losing to Lackey would be the NEW low point of the season

  • I’m One

    Not sure I want to watch or follow the games this weekend. Of course, I will, but you know what I mean, I think.

  • Brian S.

    Fuck these guys.

    • nsalem

      Should it not be “Fuck those guys” ????

  • Darren

    Two words:


  • Duh Injuries

    The Yankees MUST at least take two out of three, besides that they can’t lose a third straight series to Boston (although I think Boston stole the last series win as they got a gift rain-shortened win.) If the Yanks lose two out of three or get swept they will most likely not win the division or it would be a longshot that they’d have to win it being 7 or 9 games back with only 64 games left to play after this weekend.

    This is gutcheck time for them. They are perfectly capable of sweeping the Red Sox at Fenway with the three starting pitchers they have and the pitching they have in general. Pitching still wins games.

    If Sabathia flops again is time for the Yanks to at least consider trading him for a bevy of starting pitching prospects and rebuild. The trade deadline is coming up and he’d make a great final piece to a contending N.L. team. The Yanks would still have Kuroda, Hughes, Pettitte, Nova, and Phelps with Warren, Nuno, and perhaps Pineda as plenty of reinforcements, as well as Sabathia’s remaining 2013 salary and $71M for the next three years cleared to re-sign Kuroda for a year and $20M he’d take and Hughes for three years at $10M a year for $30M I think he’d take and sign some top flight relievers to share closing duties with Robertson. Sabathia got his World Series ring with the Yanks, so he doesn’t HAVE to be with them to win a World Series anymore. He got his money, security, and respect (seven years with an eighth year tacked on) and I could see him being cool with returning to the league with no DH, the pitcher batting, and a easier bottom of the order because of both.

    Btw the Yanks are 48-31 outside of games they’ve played against Boston, Oakland, and the Mets, so they’re better than their so-so 51-44 record indicates They don’t face the As or Mets anymore and I think both caught the Yanks at a bad time, especially the lowly shitty Mets who BARELY won three games over the Yanks.

    • vicki

      if you really tried i think you could pack just as much crazy into 50 words as you do in 400. leaving you extra time for making tin foil hats.

  • Revan

    Win the series, be buyers. Lose the series, sell.

  • Roadgeek Adam

    Orioles DFA’d Dickerson. CLAIM NOW.

    • SDB

      WE’RE SORRY CHRIS! Please come back!

    • vicki

      i’m assuming the joke here. second-rate left-handed outfielder is one of the few things we don’t need.

    • MannyGeee – Proven Starter

      Welcome home, C-Dix.

  • obp

    Pay close attention to the Redsox OBP that’s a team that gets it done. Yankees are in for a world of hurt.

  • Eddard

    This is a winnable series. Andy and CC need to step up. Hiroki will be just fine against Lackey. They might not score more than 3 runs a game so Andy and CC need to make the lead stick if they’re given a lead.

  • MannyGeee – Proven Starter

    Worth mentioning that Bailey got placed on the 15-day DL this morning, and reports have him out for the season with a ‘serious shoulder’ situation of some sort.

    That said, sweep the fucking leg. Lets turn this thing around.