TiqIQ: With Eyes Still On AL East, Yankees Host Rival Red Sox In Last Home Series Of 2015

The New York Yankees are on life support right now regarding their chances of winning the AL East, being four games back of the division rival Toronto Blue Jays with just a week remaining in the 2015 Major League Baseball season. While it’s appearing certain that the Yanks will still enter the postseason with one of the two Wild Card berths, they would much rather avoid that do-or-die play-in game, in which anything can happen.

Enter New York’s arch nemesis, the Boston Red Sox, who will be on the outside looking in for the second year in a row when the playoffs commence in just over a week. At the same time, they can still somewhat salvage their season by potentially dealing the final blow to the Yankees’ chances at first-place in the division. The two rivals will begin their latest heated series opposite one another on Monday evening.

As huge as this late-season series is, the value is incredible for Yankees tickets when they match up against the Red Sox in their final home series of the campaign. In fact, none of the four games in this series even top $97 on average, with the Oct. 1 finale being the most expensive at just $96.86 on the secondary market. The cheapest of the series is Tuesday night’s game two, which sports an average ticket price of $66.39, meanwhile, the series opener on Monday night also comes relatively cheap, being $73.99 on average on the secondary market. Tickets on the primary market from Ticketmaster are still available and start at just $20 for each of these rivalry games.

Tickets to see the Yankees and Red Sox battle need very little convincing, as this is arguably the most storied rivalry in all of baseball. Plus, there’s important playoff implications with each game in the series. On one side, the Yankees are trying to officially lock up their residency in the 2015 postseason, while also looking to catch Toronto in the division. In that regard, they’re going to need some help also, as the Blue Jays will have to lose about half of the games they have left over the final week in order to catch them at the top.

On the other side, the visiting Red Sox can make the best of a losing season if they are able to put a dent in New York’s aspirations for first-place. Not only that, they also have a little something to play for, as they try to avoid finishing in the division cellar for the second year in a row. At the moment, they’re a half-game up on the Tampa Bay Rays to avoid that distinction, and a series win over the Yankees would certainly help their cause even further, and perhaps even fault them ahead of the Baltimore Orioles to jump into third-place.

Each side, of course, has their big names to lean on. While the Bronx Bombers no longer have Mark Teixeira for the remainder of the year, they still boast some exceptional bats in the form of Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann, and Brett Gardner. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have their own signature sluggers, being paced by the likes of David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. The Yankees have taken 10 of the 15 matchups between the two clubs this season, and will need to continue that notable success if they want to continue their pursuit of first in the division. With Boston recognizing that, it won’t be easy, but at the very least, this should be a very entertaining four-game series, making tickets for each game a tremendous value overall.

Second wildcard spot chaos good for the Yankees heading into October

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

At some point soon, the Yankees will clinch their first postseason berth since 2012. Their magic number is three and there are seven games left in the season, meaning they control their own destiny. The AL East title is not completely off the table yet, just very unlikely, so the focus has understandably shifted to the wildcard game.

The Yankees have a comfortable 4.5-game lead over the Astros for the first wildcard spot (five in the loss column), making it likely the wildcard game will be played in Yankee Stadium one week from tomorrow. That’s good. I know the Yankees haven’t played so well at home in the second half, but I can’t imagine anyone wants them to go on the road for that game.

Who will the Yankees play in that wildcard game? That question is not close to being answered right now. Here are the wildcard standings:

AL wildcard standings 092815

The Indians, Orioles, and Red Sox are all mathematically still alive, but, realistically, the second wildcard race is between the Astros, Angels, and Twins. Those three clubs do not have any head-to-head games remaining this season. The ‘Stros control their own destiny while the Angels and Twins need some help.

It’s impossible to predict how one individual baseball game will play out, so I don’t think you can make an argument the Yankees are better off playing one of those teams instead of one of the other two. Would I rather see them play the Twins given their history against Minnesota? Oh yeah. But it really doesn’t mean anything. I also don’t want to see them face Dallas Keuchel, but again, who knows?

As far as I’m concerned, the longer the second wildcard race goes on, the better it is for the Yankees. The Astros, Angels, and Twins won’t have the luxury of resting their players and, more importantly, lining up their pitching. For example, Keuchel started yesterday and is scheduled to start again Friday. Houston might need him to make that start just to get into the postseason, which means Keuchel would either have to start the wildcard game on three days’ rest or not start it at all.

Again, we all know anything can happen in any given game, but boy, the Astros having to use Keuchel next weekend would be pretty huge for the Yankees, wouldn’t it? I know I’d prefer that to happen. There’s also the matter of those teams potentially wearing out their bullpens — there is an off-day before the wildcard game, so this might not be that big a deal — and older position players down the stretch just to get to the postseason.

I have no idea whether any of this has a tangible on-field benefit for the Yankees, I just know it seems like they’re be better off facing a team that has to battle right down to Game 162 to make the wildcard game. The less of a breather their opponent can take, the better I’ll feel. I’ll be rooting for a three-team race for that final wildcard spot all week.

9/28 to 10/1 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox


It’s the final home series of the season. The Red Sox are in the Bronx for a four-game set starting tonight, and if all goes as planned, the Yankees will clinch a postseason berth at Yankee Stadium this week. The Yankees are 10-5 against the Red Sox this year, but only 3-3 at Yankee Stadium. They’ve won each of the last four series these two teams have played.

What Have The Red Sox Done Lately?

The Red Sox swept the Orioles at home this weekend, and they didn’t just sweep them, they shut them out all three game. They outscored the O’s 17-0 in the three games. Boston is 75-80 with a -6 run differential overall, good for fourth place in the AL East race. Their tragic number is one, so the Yankees can officially eliminate the BoSox from postseason contention this series. That’ll be sweet.

Offense & Defense

The Red Sox are averaging 4.65 runs per game with a team 98 wRC+ this season, but they’ve been much better of late, averaging 5.21 runs per game with a team 107 wRC+ since the All-Star break. They’re without OF Hanley Ramirez (89 wRC+) and 3B Pablo Sandoval (75 wRC+), who are done for the season with a shoulder injury and pneumonia, respectively. A total of 957 position players have appeared in a game in 2015. Sandoval and Hanley are tied for 957th with -1.9 fWAR. Woof.

Ortiz. (Presswire)
Ortiz. (Presswire)

Interim manager Torey Lovullo — manager John Farrell is away from the team undergoing cancer treatment — still builds his lineup around DH David Ortiz (134 wRC+), who, after a slow start, has typical David Ortiz numbers now. OF Mookie Betts (116 wRC+) and SS Xander Bogaerts (112 wRC+) have been Boston’s two best players this year, and 2B Dustin Pedroia (120 wRC+) just recently returned from his latest injury. UTIL Brock Holt (101 wRC+) is now filling at third after playing second while Pedroia was out.

OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (122 wRC+) and OF Rusney Castillo (81 wRC+) surround Betts in the outfield — Bradley had that insane hot streak a few weeks but has cooled off big time recently — and IF Travis Shaw (120 wRC+) is getting most of the playing time at first base. C Blake Swihart (86 wRC+) and C Ryan Hanigan (84 wRC+) share catching duties. The crop of September call-ups features C Sandy Leon, IF Deven Marrero, and IF Josh Rutledge.

The Red Sox have a very good team defense now that Hanley and Sandoval are out of the picture. Betts, Bradley, and Castillo are all good to great in the outfield and both Pedroia and Bogaerts are strong up the middle. Shaw and Holt are fine on the corners. Not great but not a disaster either. Hanigan rates as a strong pitch-framer while Swihart is average. Both throw out an average number of base-stealers too.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (vs. NYY)
This has been a good but not great rookie campaign for the 22-year-old Rodriguez, who has a 3.97 ERA (4.04 FIP) in 20 starts and 115.2 innings. The BoSox have been spacing out his starts of late to control his workload. Rodriguez has average-ish peripherals across the board — 18.8 K%, 7.3 BB%, 43.4 GB%, and 1.01 HR/9 — and has been much better against righties (.292 wOBA) than lefties (.359 wOBA). That’s because no one bites on his mid-80s slider. He has nothing for lefties other than his mid-90s four-seamer. Rodriguez does have a good mid-80s changeup though. The Yankees have faced Rodriguez three times this year and they’ve scored exactly two runs all three times (6.1 innings, seven innings, and five innings.)

Tuesday (7pm ET): TBA vs. LHP Wade Miley (vs. NYY)
Miley, 28, has a 4.39 ERA (3.81 FIP) in 188.2 innings across 31 starts in his first season with the Red Sox. Neither his strikeout (17.9%) nor walk (7.5%) rates are anything special, though both his grounder (48.9%) and homer (0.81 HR/9) numbers are better than average. That’s his game, getting ground balls. Righties (.326 wOBA) have had a little more success against him than lefties (.294 wOBA). Miley works right around 90 mph with both his two and four-seam fastballs, in the low-80s with his slider and changeup, and in the upper-70s with his curveball. The curve is his seldom-used fifth pitch. He also works extremely fast. Gets the ball and throws it, no walking around or anything. Miley has seen the Yankees three times this year: two runs in 5.1 innings in April, three runs in seven innings in May, and six runs in 5.1 innings in July.

Porcello. (Presswire)
Porcello. (Presswire)

Wednesday (7pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Rick Porcello (vs. NYY)
The overall numbers are ugly (5.04 ERA and 4.29 FIP) but the 26-year-old Porcello has been much better in six starts since coming off the DL (2.98 ERA and 3.10 FIP). That’s not necessarily a “he’s healthy now” thing. It’s more of a “they let him focus on his sinker again” thing. Porcello’s strikeout (19.9%) and grounder (45.5%) rates are about average, his walk rate (5.3%) is very good, and his homer rate (1.38 HR/9) is very bad. He’s also been hit much harder by lefties (.358 wOBA) than righties (.326 wOBA). Both Porcello’s sinker and four-seamer sit in the low-90s, and his go-to offspeed pitch is a mid-70s curveball. He’ll also throw mid-80s sliders and low-80s changeups. Believe it or not, the Yankees have faced Porcello just once this year, scoring three runs (one earned) in eight innings earlier this month.

Thursday (7pm ET): TBA vs. LHP Rich Hill (vs. NYY)
Baseball is weird, man. Hill, now 35, started his career as a promising starter with the Cubs from 2005-07, then he suddenly couldn’t throw strikes in 2008. He moved to the bullpen, bounced around from 2009-14 — he appeared in 14 games for the Yankees last September — and wound up in an independent league earlier this season. Hill moved back into the rotation with the Long Island Ducks, dominated in two starts (11 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 21 K), got scooped up by Boston, and now he’s in their rotation. Naturally, Hill has a 1.17 ERA (1.63 FIP) in three starts with the Red Sox this month. He’s struck out 30, walked two, and allowed ten hits. For what it’s worth, Hill attributes his newfound success to being “able to figure out the most efficient way for me to pitch.” He chalks it all up to experience. There’s been no change in his stuff at all — four-seamer right around 90 mph, a big-breaking curve in the low-70s, and a few low-80s changeups per start — so I guess it’s just a matter of throwing strikes and whatnot. Baseball, man.

Meanwhile, aside from Nova, the Yankees rotation remains unsettled this week because of Masahiro Tanaka‘s hamstring. He could return pretty much any day now, though Thursday is the absolutely latest he could start a game and then be available for the wildcard game next Tuesday. That’s the deadline, basically. So the Yankees are currently listing three TBAs while they wait for Tanaka to get the okay.

Bullpen Status
The Boston bullpen has been a weakness all season, and they’re now without closer RHP Koji Uehara and setup man RHP Junichi Tazawa. Uehara was hit by a comebacker and broke his wrist, and Tazawa was shut down because his workload was getting crazy. RHP Jean Machi (5.20 ERA/4.58 FIP) and LHP Robbie Ross Jr. (3.99/4.05) have taken over as Lovullo’s late-inning duo.

LHP Tommy Layne (4.08/3.74) is the matchup lefty while RHP Alexi Ogando (4.19/5.49) and RHP Noe Ramirez (4.38/6.15 in limited time) will see some setup work because there are no other options. LHP Craig Breslow (4.22/5.11) is also in the mix. RHP Jonathan Aro, RHP Matt Barnes, RHP Ryan Cook, RHP Heath Hembree, and RHP Roman Mendez are the extra September arms. Ramirez, Layne, and Ross pitched yesterday.

Keep tabs on Joe Girardi‘s relief crew with out Bullpen Workload page. Over the Monster is the place to go for the latest and greatest on the Red Sox.

Yankeemetrics: Stayin’ alive (Sept. 24-27)

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Not for Sale
It was another one-man offensive show on Thursday night, this time starring the 38-year-old Carlos Beltran. His bullet line-drive three-run homer in the third inning was the difference in the Yankees 3-2 win over the White Sox.

Beltran turned on a 98-mph fastball from lefty Chris Sale, the second time in less than a week he’s hit a pitch that fast over the fence. (On Sept. 19 against the Mets, he crushed Noah Syndergaard’s 99-mph heater into the right field seats.) Since Pitch F/X tracking began in 2008, those are the only two home runs Beltran has hit off pitches 98 mph or faster.

One of the guys on base for Beltran’s blast was Alex Rodriguez, who scored his 2,000th run on that play. A-Rod joined Willie Mays and Barry Bonds as the only players in major-league history with at least 2,000 runs scored, 300 homers and 300 stolen bases in a career.

Michael Pineda scattered eight hits over six strong innings, allowing just one run with six strikeouts and no walks. That pinpoint control is something we’ve probably taken for granted with Pineda — he’s riding a streak of 43 straight starts with two or fewer walks, including all 38 with the Yankees. The former streak (43 starts) is tied for the eighth-longest in the last 100 years by any pitcher, and the latter streak (38) is the longest by a Yankee since at least 1914.

Double trouble
Another night of wasted opportunities doomed the Yankees on Friday night against the White Sox. Despite putting 14 guys on base, they scored just two runs in a crushing 5-2 loss that dropped them further behind the can’t-lose Blue Jays in the AL East race.

The loss also snapped a nine-game home win streak against the White Sox, which was the team’s longest since winning nine in a row against the South Siders at Yankee Stadium in 1951-52.

Yankees had their chances against White Sox starter Carlos Rodon, who couldn’t find the strike zone, but four rally-killing double plays really hurt them. The Yankees entered the game with the second-fewest double plays grounded into in the AL and third-fewest in MLB.

Rodon’s lack of control resulted in five walks, two hit by pitches and a wild pitch. The last pitcher to reach each of those totals in a game versus the Yankees was Chan Ho Park in 2003. To find a guy that did all that, plus allow just two or fewer runs like Rodon did against the Yankees, you have to go back more than 50 years — Jim Kaat with Twins in 1962.

Double your pleasure
Two runs weren’t enough to win on Friday, but it got the job done on Saturday thanks to a terrific performance from not-fill-in starter Adam Warren and a lockdown bullpen effort from the Circle of Trust.

Warren allowed just one run on three hits in six innings pitched, and then handed the ball off to the Justin WilsonDellin BetancesAndrew Miller trifecta, who sealed the 2-1 win with three perfect frames. It was an important victory in more ways than one — it was win No. 85 on the season, one more than they had all of last year.

Warren isn’t flashy but he gets the job done — this was his 12th straight start of no more than three runs allowed dating back to the beginning of May. That the longest streak of its kind in a single season by a Yankee pitcher since Ron Guidry in 1981, and the longest by a righty since Jim Bouton in 1965.

Severino stops Sox
It is rare when a pitching prospect lives up to the hype, especially in the Bronx, but Luis Severino is doing that and more this season. He dominated the White Sox on Sunday afternoon with six scoreless innings for his fifth win, lowering his ERA to 2.77 in 10 starts.

Severino is the first Yankee in the last 100 years with eight starts of no more than two runs allowed within his first 10 career games. He wasn’t the only Yankee rookie that shined on Sunday, though.

Greg Bird chipped in with two hits and an RBI. He now has eight doubles and 10 homers in his 39 games, becoming the only Yankee in the last 100 years to reach each of those totals before his 40th career game.

Slade Heathcott went 2 for 3 and now owns a .391/.400/.696 line in 14 games. That’s the best batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage of any guy on the Yankees roster right now.

Fan Confidence Poll: September 28th, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-3 (21 RS, 21 RA)
Season Record: 86-69 (741 RS, 651 RA, 87-68 pythag. record) 4.0 GB in ALE, 5.0 games up on WC spot
Opponents This Week: vs. Red Sox (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), @ Orioles (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

Offense breaks out late in 6-1 win over White Sox

That series went pretty darn well. The Yankees took three of four from the White Sox this weekend thanks to Sunday afternoon’s 6-1 win. The offense broke out in the late innings and the pitching staff did a wonderful job for the second day in a row.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Early Opportunities
The Yankees had runners on base in every single inning against Erik Johnson except the fifth yet scored just one run, and they needed two errors to get that much. Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk to leadoff the first, then Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran reached on errors towards first base. They both hit grounders to Jose Abreu, who bobbled the ball, then botched the flip to the pitcher. Abreu was charged with both errors.

The walk and two errors loaded the bases with no outs, though the Yankees scored just one run on a Brian McCann sacrifice fly. Greg Bird struck out and Dustin Ackley was robbed of a two-run extra-base hit by J.B. Shuck in the right-center field gap. It was a great running catch. I didn’t think Shuck had any chance to run that ball down — I thought it was gone off the bat, actually — yet he made the catch at full speed. No dive necessary.

The following innings brought more opportunities but no more runs. There was a single in the second inning, two singles and a hit batsman in the third, and then a double and a walk in the fourth. None of those rallies led to runs. A mix of strikeouts and popups and even a caught stealing short-circuited the offense. It was … frustrating. The Yankees have been letting too run-scoring chances slip by of late.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Severino and the Double Plays
Precocious right-hander Luis Severino tossed six scoreless innings against the White Sox on Sunday despite having only one 1-2-3 inning. That was the third. Severino benefited from four double plays. Abreu singled in the first and was erased on Melky Cabrera‘s 6-6-3 double play. An error in the second — Severino missed the flip on a grounder to first — was erased on a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play. Those are my favorite.

A 3-6-1 double play in the fourth helped Severino escape a jam after allowing back-to-back singles to start the frame. Severino did a great job stretching and making the scoop on the play. It was Teixeira-esque. With runners on first and third with one out in the fifth, Melky banged into another 6-6-3 double play to end the threat. Severino put some runners on base but was impressively able to bear down to make the pitches he needed. Lots of young pitchers would have let those situations spiral out of control.

All told, Severino allowed four singles, a double, and a walk in his six innings. He also made the error to allow another base-runner. Severino only struck out two — he only has five strikeouts in his last two starts (13.5%) — but did get 12 of his other 16 outs on the ground. That includes the double plays. Works for me. Outside of that one disaster start against the Blue Jays, Severino’s been pretty awesome. Couldn’t ask for anything more from the kid.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Insurance Runs!
A wild second run appeared in the sixth inning courtesy of Ackley’s leadoff home run into the second deck in right. He had that near double off Johnson in the first inning and was able to get another good swing against him in the sixth. The Yankees were winning at the time, but yeah, more runs were appreciated. Ackley continues to be pretty awesome in his new role as Not Stephen Drew.

The Yankees managed to score another run that inning thanks to back-to-back singles (Slade Heathcott and Brendan Ryan), a walk (Gardner), and a wild pitch. A good ol’ manufactured run. They scored their first run without the benefit of a hit and their third run scored on a wild pitch. Given how much the Yankees have been struggled to score runs of late — they came into Saturday having scored seven runs in his last four games — I’ll take ’em any way they come.

Two more runs scored in the eighth inning after Beltran started the rally with a leadoff single off the wall. One of those “he hit it so hard it was only a single” jobs. Pinch-runner Rico Noel made it all the way to third when Daniel Webb threw away a pickoff throw, then Bird singled him in for the team’s fifth run. A Chase Headley double, a Didi Gregorius walk, and a Heathcott sacrifice fly created run No. 6.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

The Yankees went 3-for-19 (!) with runners in scoring position. One of the hits didn’t score a run either. That was Alex Rodriguez‘s pinch-hit infield single the seventh. I have no idea how to look it up, but the Yankees have to lead MLB in hits with runners in scoring position that don’t actually score a run. Ellsbury followed that with a single to left to score the team’s fourth run.

With the Yankees up three runs after six, Joe Girardi went to his usual late-inning relievers. Justin Wilson allowed a solo homer to pinch-hitter to Avisail Garcia in an otherwise perfect seventh inning. Dellin Betances pitched around a two-out double with a 4-1 lead in the eighth — his first 14 pitches were fastballs, which is unusual for Dellin — and Bryan Mitchell mopped things up with a 6-1 lead in the ninth.

Believe it or not, the Yankees had 13 hits in the game. Every starter had one except McCann, who drove in the first run with the sac fly. Ellsbury, Bird, and Heathcott each had two hits. Ten of the final 17 batters they sent to the plate reached base. That’s much more like it.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and postseason odds. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot is three and the tragic number in the AL East is four. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Red Sox are coming to the Bronx for the final home series of the regular season. Ivan Nova and Eduardo Rodriguez will be the pitching matchup Monday night. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or any of the other three remaining home games live at Yankee Stadium.