Apr
22

4/22-4/24 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

By
(Presswire)

(Presswire)

For the second time in a little more than a week, the Yankees and Red Sox meet for what is sure to be a tense, time-consuming, over-hyped, and over-analyzed series. This time the scene shifts to Boston and Fenway Park. The Yankees won three of four from their rivals in the Bronx the weekend before last. This will be Jacoby Ellsbury‘s first trip back to Boston since signing with New York.

What Have They Done Lately?
Since these two teams last met, the Red Sox took two of three from the White Sox and split a four-game series with the Orioles. They are 9-11 with a -6 run differential overall, which currently has them in the AL East cellar. Little too early to start worrying about division standings, but that’s just me.

Offense
The BoSox were really struggling to score runs when they were in town a week and a half ago, but they scored six runs in each of their last two games and appear to be coming around offensively. They currently average 3.8 runs per game with a team 92 wRC+, both below-average marks. The Red Sox are currently without OF Shane Victorino (hamstring) and 3B Will Middlebrooks (calf), neither of whom is expected to return this series even though they are out on minor league rehab assignments.

(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

As usual, manager John Farrell’s lineup is anchored by 2B Dustin Pedroia (95 wRC+) and DH David Ortiz (100 wRC+), both of whom are off to slow starts compared to their usual levels of production. 1B Mike Napoli (140 wRC+) has been the team’s best hitter, and the recently called up Brock Holt (173 wRC+) has taken over at third base and the leadoff spot. SS Xander Bogaerts is having a strong rookie campaign (123 wRC+) as well.

Platoon OF Jonny Gomes (98 wRC+) is seeing more playing time than he should, mostly because OF Daniel Nava (38 wRC+) has been awful. OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (82 wRC+) is starting to take playing time away from OF Grady Sizemore (80 wRC+). The catching platoon of C A.J. Pierzynski (61 wRC+) and C David Ross (125 wRC+) has been okay overall. IF Jonathan Herrera (55 wRC+) and 1B/OF Mike Carp (89 wRC+) fill out the bench. Obligatory it is still early and those numbers came from small samples reminder.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. LHP Jon Lester (Career vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Lester, 30, has been as good as ever in 2014, just as he’s getting ready to test the free agent waters this coming offseason. He has a 2.17 ERA (2.39 FIP) in four starts and 29 innings, pairing excellent strikeout (9.00 K/9 and 25.7 K%) and walk (1.24 BB/9 and 3.5 BB%) rates with a strong ground ball rate (46.1%). Lester has crushed left-handed batters (.237 wOBA) and been slightly less successful against righties (.280 wOBA). A low-90s fastball and upper-80s cutter set up his mid-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball. Lester held the Yankees to two runs in 6 2/3 innings the weekend before last.

Rare photo of Lackey being uphappy about something. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Rare photo of John Lackey being uphappy about something. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Michael Pineda vs. RHP John Lackey (Career vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
One reason the Red Sox won the World Series last year was Lackey going from injured and awful to a reliable workhorse starter. The 35-year-old has a 5.25 ERA (4.74 FIP) in 24 innings and four starts so far, though his strikeout (8.63 K/9 and 22.1 K%) and walk (2.63 BB/9 and 6.7 BB%) numbers remain very good. He is very air ball prone (38.0% grounders), however, and righties have just mashed him (.416 wOBA). Lefties aren’t doing so bad either (.331 wOBA). Lackey throws both a low-90s fastball and a mid-80s cutter, and his upper-70s curveball remains his go-to pitch. He doesn’t throw a changeup anymore. The Yankees roughed Lackey up for six runs in 5.2 innings in their last series.

Thursday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Felix Doubront (Career vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Doubront, 26, has a 5.48 ERA (4.30 FIP) in four starts and 21.1 innings this year, making him the clear weak link in Boston’s rotation. His strikeout rate (6.33 K/9 and 15.6 K%) has fallen quite a bit these last two years, but he still walks a bunch (3.80 BB/9 and 9.4 BB%) and his ground ball rate (44.3%) has remained static. Lefties has crushed him so far this year (.438 wOBA), but that’s a sample size problem. Righties have gotten him for a .309 wOBA. Doubront’s big breaking mid-70s curveball is his money pitch, and he’ll also throw low-90s heaters, mid-80s cutters, and some low-80s changeups to righties. The Yankees scored three runs in 6.2 innings against the southpaw in their last series.

Tazawa and Uehara. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Tazawa and Uehara. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Bullpen Status
The Orioles did the Yankees a real favor yesterday. Baltimore knocked Clay Buchholz out of the game in the third inning, forcing Farrell to get 6.2 innings out of his bullpen. RHP Burke Badenhop (4.31 FIP) threw 3.2 innings and 40 pitches, so he’ll be out of commission tonight. LHP Craig Breslow (2.48 FIP) threw two innings and 23 pitches, and could be limited tonight if he’s even available. LHP Andrew Miller (2.39 FIP) has pitched each of the last two days. Their lefty relievers have been worked hard these last few days.

Closer RHP Koji Uehara (0.36 FIP) recently returned from a little shoulder issue. He’s set up by RHP Junichi Tazawa (1.19 FIP) and occasionally RHP Edward Mujica (2.37 FIP). LHP Chris Capuano (1.48 FIP) has graduated from strict long relief work to more of a medium-to-high-leverage guy. All of them except Uehara pitched Sunday night. The Yankees had yesterday off and are in good shape bullpen-wise, especially since David Robertson was activated off the 15-day DL this morning. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage details, then check out Over the Monster for the latest and greatest on the Red Sox.

Categories : Series Preview

112 Comments»

  1. Yangeddard Solarte says:

    I thought we’d win 3/4 in the last series we played vs Boston and I think we’ll take 2/3 in this one. I don’t think the Sox can beat Hiro Tanaka or Mike Pineda. They are down offensively. I’m not expecting CC to win his game.

  2. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    Tonight is going to be a treat. No matter how it goes, Tanaka/Lester at Fenway, day after the marathon, Tanaka entering the lion’s den for the first dime…….baseball as theater does not get better than that.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      Time, not dime.

      • nsalem says:

        Thankphully we are not coming into Phenway with Fill Hughes who pitched to a sixphivesix ERA at this phantastic venue.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

          I don’t think I have another bloodbath in me today.

        • Havok9120 says:

          This is like day two of the Battle of Shiloh.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

            I had to Google that. That’s harsh. :)

            • Macho Man "Randy Levine" says:

              No it wasn’t. The good guys won.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

                Yeah, but the trajectory…aw, fuck it.

              • nycsportzfan says:

                Do you guys think ALPHONSO will be batting cleanup tonight?

                • Havok9120 says:

                  Sigh.

                  Referencing Shiloh was apparently not sufficient to deter you.

                • CS Yankee says:

                  Can’t there be some middle ground?

                  …from here-on-out everybody refers to him as “The Fonz” and maybe RAB can get him to say “heeeyy!” as he’s running out-of-the-box instead of that lame “toe tap”.

                  Thoughts?

                  • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

                    The Union would have fallen under General CS Yankee.

                    • CS Yankee says:

                      Just want the bloodshed between the North and South to stop; can’t that be Grant-ed, so Mike doesn’t make you guys Lee-ve?

                      Five years ago, i didn’t realize that Andy’s last name had four-T’s until TJSC corrected someone else (always good to learn from others mistakes).
                      Spelling correctly and proper grammer does improve the blog for all and also presents that said person isn’t a 9 year-old or someone that has challenges with the English language. That being said, I don’t want to limit a foreigner (or whatever the issue is) from stating their thoughts or questions.

                      I trust you don’t as well. I enjoy most of your comments.

          • Macho Man "Randy Levine" says:

            Don Carlos Buell FTW!

    • The Great Gonzo says:

      Truth. Lining up to be the game of the season so far.

  3. mike says:

    its amazing, but Papi will come up to bat in a few big spots in this series, and he will kill the Yanks each time.

    I am amazed at his bullet-proof persona cultivated by the media, but the guy has been excellent for over a decade and has tormented the Yanks forever.

    they will be a completely different team when he finally calls it quits, as IMO he is completely underpaid for his production/value, and (at least against the Yanks) he has redefined clutch

  4. pat says:

    Can we sign Jon Lester? I would like that. I care not for alleged “budgetary concerns”.

  5. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    Is that a regulation-sized flag?

  6. Chip Rodriguez says:

    I am cheering hard for the Orioles in their series against Toronto this week, just out of thanks for their work on the Sox bullpen.

    No way Badenhop pitches today, perhaps not even tomorrow. He’s looked very impressive from what I’ve seen, so glad about that.
    Wearing down their main lefty reliever also helps.

    • TheEvilUmpire says:

      I’m rooting for them to split the first 2 games and have the 3rd game suspended in the 22nd inning!

  7. Pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero) says:

    I was in Boston a week ago listening to their sports radio guys saying that the Sawx offer of 4 years/68M for Lester was far below his value. I’m sure he will test the waters around the league. Sawx got a great deal with Pedroia but I don’t think Lester will take the same discount.

    As for Ortiz, do NOT pitch to that guy unless up by a big margin. Walk him. Enough already…..

    • TheEvilUmpire says:

      He’s a $100mm contract guy, minimum. Sawx are going to alienate another loyal member of da nation!

    • 28 this year says:

      If only people realized that when players take smaller deals, the owners are the ones who walk away happiest. Boston is playing the small market card to try to get below market deals and than laughing to the bank as they pocket their enormous revenue stream.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

        And I also think players should sign the deals they want to sign, whether taking a hometown discount or boarding the redeye to Safeco for extra millions on top of the millions they already don’t know what to do with.

        Perhaps it’s easier on the owners, but I regain a bit of faith in humanity every time a player actually chooses to play somewhere for reasons other than “they paid me the most.”

        • Chip Rodriguez says:

          On your last point, it’s one reason I hope Yankee fans will not boo Beltran, no matter how bad his slumps might be. I don’t care if he turns into A-Rod of October ’12, there’s a guy who made it clear he wanted to be part of a Yankee lineup, and left money on the table so he could do so. Nobody would have faulted him for going back to KC for more $.

          Neat parallel that he signed the same day that Cano joined the Mariners.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

            You’re not going to get half the stadium to be able to think as far back as Beltran wanting to be a Yankee, I think.

        • 28 this year says:

          Agreed but it shouldn’t be an expectation that a player needs to radically undervalue their services to stay with a big market team. At the very least, it bothers me that Boston comes out looking great when really they are just pressuring guys to take less money. It’s sour grapes from me, nothing more.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

            It’s not expectation. I’m just not going to celebrate the guy who takes a lot of money because it fleeces the owners. For one, it’s not fleecing the owners, who are far richer anyway and, two, I’m not really begrudging anyone’s career decision.

            I still think it’s OK to boo Robbie. Fandom doesn’t have to be internally consistent.

  8. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    The genius of Chad Jennings:

    “In his first year with the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury is off to such a strong start, his numbers are almost as good as Yangervis Solarte’s.”

    • TWTR says:

      Small sample size caveats aside, that’s actually a very big compliment to both of them.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

        I took it more as a clever wink than something serious.

        • TWTR says:

          Yeah, I realize that it was tongue in cheek, but otoh, for a highly paid free agent, facing the potential pressure in NY, to perform about as well as what may be outlier stats by a minor league free agent is pretty great for both of them (and us as fanboys).

          • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

            Definitely.

          • Chip Rodriguez says:

            For all the crying and moaning here last year about the lack of prospects and how much the scouts sucked at assessing talent… that’s a guy who was with the Twins and Rangers for a while, and a Yankees scout was the first one to see something in him.

            Heck, Dean Anna didn’t even get spring training invites with the Padres, and then he’s on the 25 man roster in the Bronx.

            • TWTR says:

              I readily admit that I am unhappy with their inability to develop talent and believe that improving development will be critical for them to maximize their potential, year in and year out.

              Nothing about Solarte and Anna changes that view.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

                We know. :)

                I think digging up Solarte and Anna represents one skill set for sure, but I agree that it doesn’t mean developing young talent with more than bench potential.

  9. Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

    I’m always happy with a split on the road. Let’s get 2/4, any more is cause for celebration.

  10. nycsportzfan says:

    4hrs till gametime. Can’t wait.

  11. The Great Gonzo says:

    Imma say it. It will mean nothing in the grand scheme of 2014, but if they can get through tonight with a win, they sweep the series. NOTHING about Lackey and Doubront scares me this season, and once you get past Napoli and Ortiz this lineup just SCREAMS regression to the mean.

  12. Yankeefan91 says:

    Sweep em in that dump of a stadium

    • mustang says:

      I actually like Fenway the surrounding area is much more fun to hangout then the Bronx and the town of Boston is blast. With that said I totally agree with the SWEEP part.

      • Macho Man "Randy Levine" says:

        The sight of Fenway generally makes me physically ill. That green color.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

        You don’t like walking over to Concourse Plaza and Bronx Criminal Court? What’s wrong with you?!

        • mustang says:

          I think the Yankees missed a big chance when they made the new Yankees Stadium. They should put in a retractable roof and develop (restaurants, etc.) the surrounding to make year round attraction.
          If the Prudential Center Newark, NJ can be a top all year around venue so could of the Stadium in the Bronx
          At the very least they should took a page from Citifield which is hands down better as far as fan comfort.

          • mustang says:

            should of took

          • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

            I don’t need them tearing down the surrounding area there, honestly. Families who are just going to get pushed out further would be affected, just like so many of the businesses in Willets Point are about to get screwed.

            For every 50,000 people getting off on that YS3 stop, there’s always those you see frustrated at the mobs because that’s their home stop. Never forget them.

            We have to accept that NYC is different from other areas, and that a stadium or arena environment is not going to be a self-contained one.

      • I'm One says:

        Haven’t been to Fenway, but spent a fair amount of time in Boston and the areas surrounding Fenway while my daughter was playing hockey and considering going to Northeastern. Definitely agree that Boston is much more fun to hang around in than the Bronx, but still happy that she chose Fordham over Northeastern (I get to visit NY and go to Yankee games!).

      • W.B. Mason Williams says:

        The surrounding area is definitely much nicer. Went there once with my ex (I was gonna convert her dammit!) and all the surrounding bars are really cool with some great craft brew offerings. The area around YSIII can be shady if you stray more than a few blocks.

        All the same, Phenway itself is a college ballpark, plain and simple. History is cool and all, but I’d really much prefer watching a game in the Cathedral.

        Interestingly enough, I wore a bunch of Yankees and Giants stuff (this was post-SB46) and not a word was said to me.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

          I used to get off the 161st stop and walked about ten blocks to one of the juvenile detention centers where I had clients. I always enjoy walking around areas I wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable in, but it tends to get a bit desolate once you get past the courthouses.

          Otherwise, no, it’s not terrible. It’s just simply where people live. With the Bronx, I really only begin to worry when it gets very industrial and without any sort of foot traffic.

        • vicki says:

          lansdowne is the opposite of charm.

      • Steinbrenner's Ghost says:

        Isn’t NYC a blast?

        • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

          Wouldn’t trade it, in my heart, for anything else in this world, even though I am about to trade it in for somewhere else.

          • Steinbrenner's Ghost says:

            I will say, people in Cali are too laid back and snobby, people in Noo Yawk are too pushy and argumentative, and there is too muck freakn snow in Boston and the townies are tooo dumb.

            I once asked Pete Abe which town had the better baseball IQ, and he burst out laughing, saying, “new york, of course”. And that’s from someone who grew up in Boston.

        • mustang says:

          Don’t get me wrong I love New York, but I just don’t like NYC even if I grew up there.

          Love being not to far to visit but far enough to be in peace.

  13. mustang says:

    Mike could of just save him sometime:

    4/22-4/24 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

    Masahiro Tanaka first time in Boston.

    Michael Pineda first time since comeback.

    Jacoby Ellsbury‘s first trip back to Boston

    ENJOY!!!

    • nycsportzfan says:

      1hr 39min till gametime. Its gonna be interesting to see how Sox fans greet Ells and Jeter in back to back at bats to start the game.Its gonna be alot of booing, or cheering. I think Ells gets booed badly, but do the Blosox faithful have enough class, to cheer for the career of Jeter, and what kinda player he was and what he meant to baseball over the last 18yrs or so?

      My guess is the a-holes boo both.lol

  14. Macho Man "Randy Levine" says:

    Tonight’s lineup:

    Ellsbury 8
    Jeter 6
    Beltran DH
    Soriano 7
    Teixeira 3
    McCann 2
    Solarte 5
    Suzuki 9
    Roberts 4

    • nycsportzfan says:

      Interesting lineup. Whats Ichiros career against Lester look like? Kelly Johnson’s getting a nice little vacation.

  15. mustang says:

    I know I should go here but I can’t help it. I was listening to the FAN because the car radio was still on it from the Yankees game. Peter Gammons was on taking about how great Billy Beane is and how Money Ball is all about Beane reinventing himself. Gammons said that Bean spent 16MM on the pen while only spending 11MM on starters because the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings are “leverage innings” an thus important.

    To recap relievers and the 3 last innings of the game are now important. NO SHIT!!!!!

    In related news I invented a circular object that revolves on an axle and is fixed below an object to enable it to move easily over the ground I called it the “leehw”

    • W.B. Mason Williams says:

      You fool! How will it ever stop!? My square ones will easily trump yours!

    • Steinbrenner's Ghost says:

      yeah, but 10 of that 16 million went to johnson to close out games and he got demoted after blowing two saves

      • mustang says:

        This was another thing Beane is now emphasizing the importance of the closer. I’m sure the congregation loves that one.

        • Steinbrenner's Ghost says:

          Oh gawd. I almost forgot how Theo and his sycophants used to push the closers don’t matter koolaid.

          —————————————
          http://riveraveblues.com/2014/.....ox-102161/

          The strategy seems a daring one for a team with designs on a playoff spot, but general manager Theo Epstein and manager Grady Little feel the benefits far outweigh the risks.

          And they’re not alone.

          “I like it,” says Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi flatly. “I think they’re on to something.”

          “I think it’s great,” adds Oakland GM Billy Beane.

          There’s some irony in the fact that three of the game’s youngest general managers all heartily endorse a philsophy that was revelant as recently as the 1970s. That was before baseball locked itself into a mentality that one pitcher — and one pitcher only — could safely be counted upon to record the final three outs of a game.

          “I think it’s a bunch of crap to have one closer,” says one major league GM. “You pay that guy $5-6 million to pitch 60-70 innings a year. Is he that much of a slam dunk guy? There are very few that are anymore.”

  16. marechal says:

    I’m interested to see how both Tanaka and Pineda do there. Tanaka will finally face a very patient lineup, so we’ll see if the Sox players will chase his stuff out of the zone (per the Fangraphs article, Tanaka has only thrown 42% of pitches in the zone, but still has 70% strikes).

    For Pineda, I’m a bit worried about his flyball tendencies against a powerful lineup and with the small left field. Hopefully his slider will be more biting than his last turn in the rotation.

    • vicki says:

      up to this (very early) point in the season the sox haven’t shown much discipline at the plate.

      not surprisingly tanak has the highest swinging strike rate of all qualified pitchers. of course, after every start the next team to face him has another game for their advanced scouting to analyze.

  17. TheRealGreg says:

    I think he will do okay. But I’m worried (surprise, surprise) that if he doesn’t do well, all of his previous starts ill be forgotten by everybody

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