8/16-8/18 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

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One Way To Improve the Pitching Staff
(Pressiwre)
(Pressiwre)

Late-season Yankees-Red Sox series are usually rather important, and these three games this weekend are no different. Boston is fighting for the top spot in the AL East while the Bombers are trying to scratch their way back in the wildcard race, so these two clubs really aren’t in direct competition with each other in the standings. The Sawx have won two of three in each the three previous times these two teams have played this year.

What Have They Done Lately?
Manager John Farrell’s team lost their last two games, three of their last four, and five of their last seven. Despite that recent slide, Boston has gone 14-12 in the second half and they still atop the AL East with a 72-51 record and +103 run differential. Those are both the second best marks in the AL behind the Tigers.

Offense
At 5.0 runs per game with a team 111 wRC+, the Red Sox have one of the three best offenses in baseball. Aside from backup C David Ross (81 wRC+), who is out long-term with a concussion, and UTIL Brandon Snyder (68 wRC+), Farrell’s team is perfectly healthy on offense.

SHANF. (Presswire).
SHANF. (Presswire).

I think we’re all familiar with this lineup by now. CF Jacoby Ellsbury (112 wRC+) leads off, RF Shane Victorino (98 wRC+) bats second, 2B Dustin Pedroia (113 wRC+) bats third, and DH David Ortiz (160 wRC+) cleans up. 1B Mike Napoli (109 wRC+) typically bats fifth, but OF Jonny Gomes (109 wRC+) has been mashing of late and is seeing some time higher in the order. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (112 wRC+) is the everyday backstop.

Beyond those seven, they’ve got 3B Will Middlebrooks (70 wRC+), OF Daniel Nava (119 wRC+), 1B/OF Mike Carp (151 wRC+ in limited time), and SS Stephen Drew (105 wRC+). C Ryan Lavarnway (90 wRC+) and IF Brock Holt (34 wRC+) fill out the bench at the moment. Boston’s offense is deep and powerful, there isn’t a single soft spot in the regular lineup outside of Middlebrooks.

Starting Pitching Matchups
If these pitching matchups look familiar, it’s because they’re exactly the same as the last time the Yankees visited Fenway Park, right after the All-Star break. Baseball is weird sometimes. You are forewarned: some of the following may have been copied and pasted.

Friday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP Felix Doubront
Doubront, 25, has a 3.66 ERA (3.44 FIP) in 21 starts and one relief appearance this year. His strikeout rate (8.09 K/9 and 20.8 K%) is down a touch from last year and his walk rate (3.87 BB/9 and 9.9 BB%) is unchanged, so his improvement is the result of more grounders (47.6%) and fewer homers (0.56 HR/9 and 6.7% HR/FB). That homer rate is perhaps unsustainably low given his home ballpark. 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 his arsenal is so deep. The Yankees haven’t been able to touch Doubront since the start of the last season, and that includes two starts of at least six innings and no more than two runs earlier this year.

Lackey. (Bob Levey/Getty)
Lackey. (Bob Levey/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 improvement is drastic. He’s got a 3.32 ERA (3.70 FIP) in 21 starts with strong peripherals: 8.32 K/9 (22.2 K%), 1.96 BB/9 (5.2 BB%), 1.22 HR/9 (14.3% HR/FB), and 49.5% grounders. The homers are an eyesore, but everything else looks good. 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. They got to him for four runs in 6.1 innings last month.

Sunday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Ryan Dempster
Dempster, 36, has performed about as well as you’d expect an older, career NL pitcher moving into a hitter-friendly AL East park to perform. They can’t all be Kuroda. Dempster has a 4.50 ERA (4.68 FIP) in 24 starts with a real good strikeout rate (8.29 K/9 and 20.9 K%), but his walk (4.05 BB/9 and 10.2 BB%), homer (1.41 HR/9 and 13.8% HR/FB) , and ground ball (40.5%) numbers are all uninspiring. An upper-80s four-seamer and low-to-mid-80s slider are his top two pitches, but he’ll also mix in some upper-70s/low-80s splitters and mid-to-upper-80s cutters. The four-seamer and slider are clearly his go-to weapons, however. The Yankees seem to rough Dempster up each time they meet, and sure enough they got to him for five runs in 5.1 innings in July.

Koji. (Presswire)
Koji. (Presswire)

Bullpen Status
Farrell & Co. have had to overhaul most of their bullpen these last few weeks. RHP Koji Uehara (2.04 FIP) is still closing and both RHP Junichi Tazawa (3.33 FIP) and LHP Craig Breslow (3.50 FIP) are setting up, but otherwise there are a lot of new faces. LHP Drake Britton (3.27 FIP in limited time) and RHP Rubby De La Rosa (12.47 FIP in very limited time) are two live but young and inexperienced arms, as is de facto long man RHP Brandon Workman (5.31 FIP). He threw three innings on Wednesday and probably isn’t available tonight. LHP Franklin Morales (5.63 FIP in very limited time) just came off the DL to round out the seven-man relief crew.

Both Mariano Rivera and David Robertson are well-rested, but the rest of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen has been taxed of late. I suspect Adam Warren will be sent down to clear a 25-man roster spot for Mark Reynolds if his agreed-to deal is finalized today, leaving David Huff as the long man. Warren will be back as soon as rosters expand in two weeks. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for reliever usage details, then check out Over The Monster for the latest and greatest on the Sawx.

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RAB Live Chat
One Way To Improve the Pitching Staff
  • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

    Hey, we have a really great chance in the Kuroda game.

    Otherwise, let’s hope the Sox pitching implodes.

  • Eddard

    Tonight’s the swing game. Even the depleted lineup was able to do some damage against Lackey and Dumpster in the last series so I’m confident about those ballgames. Surely CC can’t be as bad as he was last time. It’s the lefty Doubront that may give them trouble and Andy is inconsistent.

    Sweep and they’re right back in it. 2/3 is ok. The time for winning 1/3 is over. They have to shave the deficit to 5 or less by the end of August.

    • It’s a Long Way to the Bronx (If You Wanna Hirok ‘N’ Roll)

      “Surely CC can’t be as bad as he was last time.”

      Said all Yankees fans and analysts before each of his starts in July.

    • Frank

      The RS own CC. That’s the one game Yanks are sure to lose. Tonight is actually the swing game assuming the Yanks are a lock tomorrow, which they are not.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        ….which of course means the Yanks win tonight AND Sunday, but lose tomorrow.

  • It’s a Long Way to the Bronx (If You Wanna Hirok ‘N’ Roll)

    If we could, by some miracle of Mo, sweep this weekend, we’d only be 5.5 back with 7 more to play against the Sox. Winning the East is not out of the question, with some more hot play like this past week.

    Sunday is the important game. Tomorrow should be a win and tonight could go either way, but we can’t afford another Sunday night meltdown like the last time in Beantown.

    Last series win against the Sox was that awesome last series of 2012. I think that it’s time to get back to that pecking order.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    My “fuck it, I’ve got nothing to lose” prediction: Yanks take at least 2 of 3, maybe even 4 of 3.

    • I’m One

      I’m going with 4 of 3. Count on it.

    • MannyGeee

      So much new math…

      • Robinson Tilapia

        GET OUTTA THE HOUSE DUDE

  • trr

    I’d like to see that 4 of 3. Staying ahead of the game and all that!

  • Kramerica Industries

    If these pitching matchups look familiar, it’s because they’re exactly the same as the last time the Yankees visited Fenway Park, right after the All-Star break. Baseball is weird sometimes. You are forewarned: some of the following may have been copied and pasted.

    It’s beautiful!

    • MannyGeee

      Not gonna lie to you, I may or may not have gotten pinched by a client for doing this same exact thing today.

  • dkidd

    i just want one more classic andy start before he retires. one more. something along the lines of him schooling bryce harper last year. please!

    #tonightcouldbeugly

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I think there’s a pretty good chance you get it. The cliff is never that straight down.

      • dkidd

        i hope you’re right

        he’s reminding me of late steve carlton. once his slider lost that little bit of bite, it was batting practice

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I actually advocated for Andy to return as a bullpen piece last season, a la Carlton in his last days, when I was convinced he’d have nothing in his comeback. Glad I was wrong there.

          • dkidd

            there were some glorious moments last year

  • Pat D

    This will be an awkward series for Jerry Remy.

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      His son looks like a mutant from the video game movie Doom

      http://www.bostonglobe.com/met.....story.html

      • dkidd

        good lord

        how did a lilliputian like jerry remy begat that monster?

      • Pat D

        Wow. Like vicki quoted that ESPN article, he looks like a guy who’s had his fill of steroids. His victim was very pretty, too, so I wonder how he was even able to get her. Such a shame.

        I hope this dickhead goes away forever, he fucking deserves it. (Yes, I believe in innocent until proven guilty, but this seems pretty open and shut considering the eyewitnesses.)

        • vicki

          unfortunately he wasn’t sufficiently punished when he beat the hell out of his last girlfriend back in 2005. as sad as this is you can’t say it’s surprising.

          roid rage has become a punchline. it’s real. and truly dangerous.

        • Manny’s BanWagon

          Can you imagine that poor child watching that roided up animal chase and stab her mother repeatedly while neighbors were unable to help because they were being slashed at?

          Cops should have just shot him on the spot and saved the trouble of a trial.

          • Pat D

            I’d rather not.

    • vicki

      tragic story. one line of the espn report leapt out at me:

      “Jared Remy is a former Red Sox security staffer who was fired by the team in 2008 during a steroid investigation.”

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Alex leaked that.

      • dkidd

        young men who use steroids are twice as likely to commit acts of violence. remember that the next time you think “baseball is just entertainment, let them take whatever they want”

      • Manny’s BanWagon

        Steroids are no joke.

        I remember all too well from back in the day guys going bat shit crazy in the gym in a roid rage.

        Jerry Remy should be scared shit of that animal

        • Robinson Tilapia

          There’s also the question as to what other substances steroid users abuse and what that does to brain composition.

          Chris Benoit’s brain functioning was shockingly deteriorated in tests following his death. That was the result of adding repeated concussions to that cocktail.

          Terrible story and, obviously, when I made the “Alex leaked that” joke, I hadn’t actually clicked on the link yet.

          R-Tils is just some asshole on the internet. The guy utilizing the screenname once had a client with a 17 year-old kid who had stopped abusing steroids as a high school athlete because he didn’t like what they were doing to him. Kid was MASSIVELY depressed and already starting to lose his hair. Told me some amazing stories about roid rage and what he actually had done. That’s the direct reason why some of the Biogenesis stuff and high school kids really ticks me off.

          I do also wonder, though, whether Jose Canseco, bastion of integrity that he is, is right when he says the problem isn’t use, but abuse.

          • Manny’s BanWagon

            Terrible story and, obviously, when I made the “Alex leaked that” joke, I hadn’t actually clicked on the link yet.
            R-Tils is just some asshole on the internet.

            It happens to the best of us.

            I had many friends use steroids though I was always too scared and pretty much stopped after DHEA, Creatine and Clenbuterol.

            Many became so unbelievably aggressive and combative that they’d be ready to fight pretty much anywhere if someone even looked at them the wrong way. Several had the attitude that their huge muscles made then entitled to any woman and if they were rejected, would think nothing of demeaning a girl and making a scene in a club.

    • forensic

      I will NEVER understand the part of the female psyche (and that’s not sexist, it’s a fact that it’s far more often them) that allows/makes them stay with, go back to, or even try not to press charges against people like this. They go back so often it’s not even funny, and the assaults/batteries far too often happen again and usually escalates, many times into this. Thank god for states with mandatory arrest laws (I don’t know if they have this in Massachusetts) that don’t give DV victims the option to not press charges and avoid arrest.

      At least he didn’t kill the kid too.

      Unfortunately, he didn’t also kill himself, which is usually the easiest and best outcome for all, in my opinion.

      • Pat D

        I will NEVER understand the part of the female psyche (and that’s not sexist, it’s a fact that it’s far more often them) that allows/makes them stay with, go back to, or even try not to press charges against people like this.

        Fear. Fear of having nowhere to go or having the guy come after them even if they do.

        • forensic

          I know it’s hard to almost start over, but the fear of being battered or killed, along with the innate human need to survive, should overcome that.

          Especially if you have a child where your motherly instinct will possibly be the strongest thing present pushing you to get your child as far away from danger and to a safe situation. Especially when you’re dealing with a long-time batterer like him. 14 prosecutions in about 15 years? That’s hard to do.

          There are numerous agencies present whose singular purpose is to help women and families in situations like this, to make it all easier for them.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Not that simple.

            I can’t possibly write a paragraph on this that will do it justice, much less with a two year-old asking me to sing at the moment, but prior abuse histories, level of self-worth, lack of options, etc. I see this every day.

          • vicki

            i think you’re right. but in most cases she doesn’t fully fathom how dangerous the situation is. i don’t want to generalize but so many victims grew up in violent households; that’s what “love” looks like to them. chaos is familiar. ditto abusers.

            • forensic

              For both replies, prior history certainly does have an affect, but that’s something that I think should’ve been taken care of earlier in their life, though that is a little simplistic.

              I disagree with the lack of options reasoning though. There are numerous agencies and options that are offered to them through police and courts to help take care of that with nearly minimal effort on their part.

              And trust me, I see this every day too, unfortunately after something has happened.

              • vicki

                grim conversation for a baseball blog. i’ll just say if severe early childhood trauma hasn’t touched your life you’ll never grasp its lifelong consequences.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Claiborne down for Reynolds, per Kay.

    • Pat D

      That’s…a bit shocking.

      • Wheels

        Who would you have sent? I don’t have an answer.

        • Pat D

          Warren.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Could be that they feel like Claiborne would benefit from some AAA work since he hasn’t looked as dominant as he did when he first came up. Who knows.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I’d say toss-up between Warren and Claiborne. He’ll be back, latest, when rosters expand (OR WHEN TEHRE’Z ANOTHA INJURY AAAAAAAGH.) I like Claiborne a lot, so there’s a wee bit of sadness there, but I don’t ever feel bad over someone’s riding the Scranton Shuttle their first season.

  • Winter

    Hopefully Reynolds can join the team in time for tonights game. I don’t care that he only has three XBH since the start of June; if I have to see Overbay bat against a LHP again I’m going to start tearing my hair out in clumps.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      He’s in the lineup tonight.

    • forensic

      I like how Reynolds is only 1-11 with 5 K’s against Doubront. I know, I look at pitcher/batter matchups too much, but I can’t wait to see if he goes 0-3 with 2 K’s against him.

  • vicki

    pretty psyched for tonight. our shiny new righties are going to abuse that ass-ugly left-field wall.

    • dkidd

      doubront has owned us, but we have a line-up that can actually work a walk, so maybe…