6/27-6/29 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

Mailbag: Jeter, Fowler, Clarkin, Hensley, Black
RAB Live Chat

Get ready for a weekend of hype and attention that is disproportionate to the relevance of the teams in this series. The Red Sox are in town to play three games against the Yankees, and it is always a Very Big Deal whenever these two clubs meet. In reality, this series is about a pair of teams trying to dig themselves out of holes in the AL East, one bigger than the other. The Yankees took three of four in New York and two of three in Boston against their rivals back in April.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Red Sox just wrapped up a brutal West Coast trip through Oakland and Seattle, losing five of seven and being outscoring 36-23. They are 36-43 overall with a -31 run differential. That puts them five games back of the Yankees and in fourth place in the AL East.

Boston had a powerhouse lineup last year, one that was deep with disciplined hitters who worked long at-bats and hit for extra-bases. This season they are averaging only 3.81 runs per game with a team 89 wRC+, so they are comfortably below average. Boston is currently without OF Shane Victorino (hamstring, back), 1B/OF Mike Carp (foot), and 3B Will Middlebrooks (finger). There’s a chance Middlebrooks will return this series, but the other two definitely will not.

Holt. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)
Holt. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

As usual, manager John Farrell’s revolves around DH David Ortiz (119 wRC+). 1B Mike Napoli (136 wRC+) is his right-handed complement and UTIL Brock Holt (122 wRC+) has been stellar since taking over the leadoff spot. 2B Dustin Pedroia (97 wRC+) is having a subpar year and, at age 30, you wonder if he’s hitting the early decline phase we’ve seen strike many second basemen. Wouldn’t that be something, if Pedroia’s days as an above-average hitter are already over? Crazy.

3B Xander Bogaerts (101 wRC+) has been very streaky this year and is on the downswing at the moment. SS Stephen Drew (-21 wRC+ in limited time) hasn’t hit a lick since re-signing and platoon bats OF Jonny Gomes (93 wRC+) and OF Daniel Nava (76 wRC+) have been more down than up. The catching tandem of C A.J. Pierzynski (72 wRC+) and C David Ross (51 wRC+) invokes memories of Chris Stewart and Austin Romine. OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (63 wRC+) has been terrible overall but better of late after making some mechanical changes. IF Jonathan Herrera (59 wRC+) is the last guy on the bench.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: LHP Vidal Nuno (No vs. BOS) vs. RHP Brandon Workman (vs. NYY)
Workman, 25, moved back into the rotation after starting the season in the bullpen. He has a 2.88 ERA (3.36 FIP) in 34.1 innings spread across five starts and three relief appearances after a stint in Triple-A. Workman has kept the ball in the park (0.52 HR/9 and 5.9 HR/FB%), but otherwise his strikeout (7.34 K/9 and 20.4 K%), walk (3.15 BB/9 and 8.8 BB%), and ground ball rates (41.5%) are no better than okay. Lefties (.258 wOBA) have had slightly more success than righties (.239 wOBA) in small samples. Workman sits right around 90 mph with his four-seam fastball and a tick below that with his cutter. His two secondary pitchers are a big overhand curveball in the upper-70s and a mid-80s changeup. The Yankees did not see Workman in their previous two series with Boston.

Saturday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Jon Lester (vs. NYY)
Believe it or not, the 30-year-old Lester is in the middle of his best season, right in time for free agency this winter. He has thrown 106 innings of 3.14 ERA (2.84 FIP) ball in 16 starts, and his strikeout (9.25 K/9 and 25.0 K%), walk (2.29 BB/9 and 6.2 BB%), and homerun (0.68 HR/9 and 7.3 HR/FB%) numbers are top notch. His ground ball rate (38.9%) is a career low, however. Lester might run into a little rough patch and see that homer rate climb at some point considering his home and divisional ballparks. His platoon split is literally zero — both lefties and righties have a .304 wOBA against him this season. Lester has really scaled back the usage of his mid-80s changeup this year, throwing only a handful per start, so he is essentially a four-pitch guy with three fastballs now: low-90s four-seamers and sinkers, mid-to-upper-80s cutters, and mid-70s curveballs. The southpaw held the Yankees to two runs in 6.2 innings in Yankee Stadium earlier this season.

Lackey. (Jim Rogash/Getty)
Lackey. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Sunday: RHP Chase Whitley (No vs. BOS) vs. RHP John Lackey (vs. NYY)
Somehow Lackey has improved upon his big return to form 2013 season. The 35-year-old has a 3.45 ERA (3.04 FIP) in 107 innings and 16 starts while walking almost no one (1.77 BB/9 and 4.8 BB%) and keeping the ball on the ground (46.1%). His strikeout (7.82 K/9 and 21.1 K%) and homer (0.76 HR/9 and 8.8 HR/FB%) numbers are good but not quite as good as the walk and grounder rates. Lackey doesn’t have much of a platoon split (lefties have a .303 wOBA while righties have a .298 wOBA) and he doesn’t have a changeup. I mean, he does have one, but he only throws it 1.4% of the time. One or two per start, that’s it. Low-90s two and four-seamers, mid-to-upper-80s cutters, and upper-70s curveballs are Lackey’s four main offerings. He has faced the Yankees twice this year and the starts were on opposite ends of the spectrum: six runs in 5.2 innings at Yankee Stadium and eight innings of one-run ball at Fenway Park.

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Red Sox were off yesterday, so their bullpen is as fresh as can be this time of year. Closer RHP Koji Uehara (2.82 FIP) has been very good but not as good as last season. He’s allowed five runs this year, all on solo homers. LHP Andrew Miller (1.45 FIP) has been spectacular, RHP Junichi Tazawa (2.89 FIP) slightly less so.

The rest of the bullpen includes RHP Burke Badenhop (3.10 FIP), LHP Craig Breslow (4.50 FIP), and RHP Edward Mujica (4.73 FIP). RHP Rubby De La Rosa (3.19 FIP) just lost his rotation spot when Clay Buchholz came off the disabled list and is the long man by default. You can check up on the status of the Yankees’ relievers at out Bullpen Workload page. For everything else you need to know about the Red Sox, I recommend Over The Monster.

Mailbag: Jeter, Fowler, Clarkin, Hensley, Black
RAB Live Chat
  • Breddard Gardner

    This Boston club is bad. Unfortunately, we’re almost as bad. Nuno is an automatic loss which means they’ll have to win the last 2 to take the series. I’m not sure if this offense can beat both Lackey and Lester. They will shut down our offense like every other pitcher has and it’ll be up to Hiro and Whitley to win 2-1 ballgames.

    • MB923

      Tanaka is pitching this series, not Hiro. Tanaka on Saturday and Whitley on Sunday.

      • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

        Eddard consistently calls Tanaka Hiro.

        • pffft

          Das rassist

  • MB923

    Yankees should trade Nuno for Tracy McGrady and have him start.

  • Oy Vay !

    Nice opening line Michael. Talk about a wet sock !

  • willie w

    sure glad we didn’t sign drew !

    • Mandy Stankiewicz

      His slash makes Ryan look like the Babe.

      • Farewell Mo

        SSS in case you’ve forgotten the cardinal rule of RAB.

  • willie w

    I am concerned that tanaka will give up one run and lose 1-0

    • JLC 776

      This isn’t funny.

      • willie w

        I am not being funny, it’s sad but true that there is a good chance that will happen against lester

        • ChuckIt

          No,it’s pitiful, but true.

  • Chip Rodriguez

    “SS Stephen Drew (-21 wRC+ in limited time)”

    Clearly you can’t be referring to RAB darling Stephen Drew, who would have hit 140 wRC+ and rescued the Yankees lineup if only Cashman had signed him.

    • I’m One

      One in the same. And if Cashman would only trade for him now while his stock is low, the season would be saved.

  • Brandon

    By all means, bury these assholes this weekend

  • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

    Wouldn’t surprise me if Pedroia on the downswing. He is already in his 30’s and has gotten the pulp beaten out of himself. Being scrappy is cool, until you get into your 30’s.

  • Brian in MA

    You know, I always appreciate the link to another clubs blog, but man…SBNation sites are THE WORST. Maybe i’ve just grown so accustomed to how RAB does it, which is very much an older layout philosophy, but I went to Over the Monster, and was just like “NOPE” because SBN sites are virtually un-navigable.

    Keep up the good work RAB.

  • Get Phelps Up

    Amazing that all those career journeymen and mid-level free agent signeees the Red Sox relied on aren’t repeating their success from last year.

    I mean, who could have possibly seen that coming?

    • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Dr. Martin van Nostrand

      Sure would’ve been nice if they didn’t win a damned championship over that nonsense a year ago.

      I mean, I fully expected regression (most of us did), but the regression would’ve been a lot more fulfilling if they weren’t the defending champions. That park is the one that sucks.

  • JLC 776

    Brutal pitching match ups this time around… You’re left hoping for a good Nuno start, hoping for bad Lester start, and hoping for a bounceback from Chase.

  • Paisa

    Can we please bury these losers this weekend….

  • viridiana

    Farm system getting some love from BA. Severino #2 on Hot Prospect Sheet. Ref, Sanzhez, Clarkin all in the team photo. Super showing. Predicted some months ago Yankee farm would soon start getting respect. Could be first evidence from BA.

    • viridiana

      *Sanchez* of course

      • http://Riveravenueblues Marty l


  • RetroRob

    Nuno and Whitley starting two of the three.


  • Derek Jeter

    I actually hope we sweep them, but even if we do, the Yankees Stink.

  • Derek Jeter

    Over/Under 9 runs scored for the Yanks this series? I’m going under.

  • BostonBlackie

    Yankees are done.the curse was lifted,no more titles 4 U

    • willie w

      don’t look for any Boston titles anytime soon either.

  • willie w


    JJ Putz is now a free agent !!!