8/31 to 9/2 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

This photo has a good W-L record. (Elsa/Getty)

The Yankees just swept the last place caliber Braves — Atlanta is in third place because the Marlins and Phillies are even worse, but that’s a last place roster, right? — and now they’re in Boston for a three-game set against the actually in last place Red Sox. The Bombers are 8-5 against the BoSox this season, including 5-1 at Fenway Park.

What Have The Red Sox Done Lately?

The Red Sox were just in New York for a three-game series with the Mets. They lost yesterday but won two of three in the series. The BoSox have won eight of their last dozen games overall, so they’re on a decent little late-season run at the moment. They’re still 60-70 with a -38 run differential, however.

Offense & Defense

Depending on your choice of metric, the Red Sox have been either an above-average offense team (4.53 runs per game) or a below-average offensive team (98 wRC+) this season. They’ve been much better in the second half (5.20 runs per game) and especially in August (6.04 runs per game). Boston is without 2B Dustin Pedroia (hamstring) and C Christian Vazquez (elbow) long-term, and both OF Hanley Ramirez (91 wRC+) and C Ryan Hanigan (92 wRC+) are day-to-day with shoulder and calf problems, respectively.

Mookie. (Presswire)
Mookie. (Presswire)

Manager John Farrell is currently away from the team receiving treatment for stage 1 lymphoma, so bench coach Torey Lovullo is serving as the interim manager the rest of the season. Lovullo’s lineup is still built around DH David Ortiz (128 wRC+), who has picked it up of late and is only six home runs away from 500 for his career. OF Mookie Betts (105 wRC+) and SS Xander Bogaerts (104 wRC+) have both had good seasons, and UTIL Brock Holt (104 wRC+) has cooled down considerably following his hot start.

OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (135 wRC+ in limited time) and OF Rusney Castillo (106 wRC+ in limited time) are currently flanking Betts while Hanley is out. OF Alejandro De Aza (102 wRC+) will see some platoon action as well. C Blake Swihart (92 wRC+) and 1B Travis Shaw (150 wRC+ in limited time) are getting lots of playing time right now because the Red Sox are pretty much out of it, so they might as well play the young guys. 3B Pablo Sandoval (84 wRC+) has been a massive disappointment and IF Josh Rutledge (105 wRC+ in very limited time) is the backup infielder.

The Red Sox do their best defensive work in the outfield, especially when Hanley sits in favor of Rusney or Bradley. The non-Hanley outfield features three above-average glovemen. Hanley is a total disaster though. Worst defensive outfielder I’ve ever seen. Sandoval has lost a lot of mobility at third. Bogaerts and Holt are solid up the middle and Shaw’s fine at first. Hanigan is a very good defensive catcher but you can run on Swihart (29% caught stealing rate). So I guess that all makes the Red Sox a good defensive club overall.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (vs. NYY)
Rodriguez, 22, came over from the Orioles in the Andrew Miller trade last year, and is part of Boston’s seemingly never-ending pipeline of pitching prospects who lack an out pitch. His 17.7% strikeout rate and 7.4% swing-and-miss rate are both below the league average. Anyway, Rodriguez has a 4.39 ERA (4.29 FIP) in 16 starts and 92.1 innings with that below-average strikeout rate as well as an above-average walk rate (6.9%), an average grounder rate (45.8%), and a below-average homer rate (1.17 HR/9). Weirdly, lefties (.388 wOBA) have hit him way harder than righties (.286 wOBA) early in his MLB career. Rodriguez has a big fastball, sitting mid-90s with his four-seamer and backing it up with mid-80s sliders and changeups. He uses the slider against lefties and the changeup against righties. The Yankees have seen Rodriguez twice this season, scoring two runs in 6.1 innings in July and two runs in seven innings in August.

Tuesday (7pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. BOS) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (vs. NYY)
Boy, this has not been a good season for the usually reliable Porcello, who has a 5.47 ERA (4.52 FIP) in 21 starts and 121.2 innings. His four-year, $82.5M extension doesn’t kick in until next season either. The 26-year-old from New Jersey recently missed four weeks with a triceps issue and has made one start since coming off the DL, tossing seven scoreless against the White Sox last time out. His strikeout (18.4%), grounder (43.4%), and homer (1.48 HR/9) numbers are all below-average, though his walk rate (5.1%) is quite good. Lefties (.373 wOBA) have smacked Porcello around this year. Righties too (.324 wOBA), just not as much. Porcello operates with low-90s two and four-seamers, using them to set up his mid-80s slider, low-80s changeup, and mid-70s curveball. The curve is his go-to secondary pitch, but he does use them all fairly regularly. Believe it or not, the Yankees have not faced Porcello at all this season. Not once.

Porcello. (Presswire)

Wednesday (4pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Henry Owens (vs. NYY)
The 23-year-old Owens made his MLB debut against the Yankees a few weeks ago, and he now has a 4.03 ERA (4.19 FIP) in five starts and 29 innings. His strikeout rate (22.0%) is pretty good, but he walks too many (8.9%), doesn’t get enough grounders (31.0%), and doesn’t keep the ball in the park (1.24 HR/9). Lefties (.348 wOBA) have been more successful against Owens than righties (.308 wOBA) so far, but I’d ignore that entirely. He’s faced 22 left-handed batters as a big leaguer. That’s nothing. Owens has averaged 89.6 mph with his four-seamer according to PitchFX. An upper-70s changeup is his top secondary pitch, though he also uses mid-70s sliders and low-70s curveballs. Not a power arm, this one. The Yankees scored three runs in five innings against Owens in his big league debut.

Bullpen Status
Lovullo’s bullpen is not good and it hasn’t been good all season. As a unit, these guys have a 4.53 ERA (4.20 FIP) overall, and they’re currently without closer RHP Koji Uehara, who broke his wrist a few weeks ago when he was hit by a comebacker. RHP Jean Machi (5.21 ERA/4.45 FIP) is now closing with RHP Junichi Tazawa (3.79/3.04) setting up.

LHP Tommy Layne (4.14/3.75) is Lovullo’s go-to matchup lefty. LHP Craig Breslow (4.25/5.17), RHP Alexi Ogando (3.83/5.64), RHP Heath Hembree (4.85/4.50 in limited time), and LHP Robbie Ross Jr. (3.93/3.89) fill out the rest of the bullpen. I’m sure Boston will call up a bunch of extra arms when rosters expand Tuesday. Ross and Hembree both pitched yesterday, otherwise their bullpen is pretty fresh. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen, then head over to Over The Monster for the latest and greatest on the BoSox.

Yankeemetrics: The Future has arrived (August 4-6)

Luis, you're No. 1. (Elsa/Getty Images)
Luis, you’re No. 1. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Been here, done that
The Red Sox held the Yankees offense mostly in check for the first half of Tuesday’s game — but that just delayed the inevitable scoring explosion that was to come in the sixth and seventh innings. They scored 12 runs in those two frames — including nine in the seventh — en route to another blowout win.

It was the first time they scored nine runs in an inning since … oh yeah, last Tuesday against the Rangers. Time flies, eh? Less than two weeks ago, they’d hadn’t put up a nine-spot in any inning since the final series of the 2012 season against the Red Sox — and now they did it twice in a span of seven days.

Chris Young and Brian McCann were the big thumpers for the Yankees, both crushing three-run homers in the seventh to turn the game into a rout. It was the first time Yankee teammates hit a pair of three-run dingers in the same inning against the Red Sox since Melky Cabrera and Jorge Posada on August 6, 2009.

With the win over the Red Sox and their stud prospect, Henry Owens, who was pitching in his first career big-league game, the Yankees are now 9-1 over the past five seasons when an opposing team starts a pitcher making his major-league debut.

Merry Severino-mas!
Luis Severino, meet Hype; Hype, meet Luis Severino … The Yankees top prospect lived up to (and probably exceeded) all expectations in his major-league debut on Wednesday night, holding the Red Sox to just two runs on two hits with seven strikeouts in five innings.

His performance was arguably one of the most impressive by any Yankee making his first career start in franchise history. Onto the bullet points!

• Before Severino, no Yankee pitcher had ever struck out at least seven guys while giving up two-or-fewer hits in his major-league debut.
• At the age of 21 years and 166 days, Severino also became the youngest Yankee with at least seven strikeouts and no more than two hits allowed in a game.
• And he joined Mike Mussina and David Cone as the only Yankees in the last 50 years to have seven-plus strikeouts and surrender fewer than three baserunners against the Red Sox. Mussina’s gem was his near-perfect game on Sept. 2, 2001 and Cone’s effort came on Sept. 8, 1998.

And he did all of this against the Red Sox, at Yankee Stadium, in front of national television audience on ESPN. Poise, confidence, swagger, cojones, whatever you want to call it, Severino seems to have it.

Of course, this being baseball, the Yankee bats suddenly went ice-cold and Severino ended up with a loss, ruining what could have been a perfect night in the Bronx. He became the first Yankee starter to lose in his major-league debut despite allowing one earned run or fewer since Bob McGraw in 1917.

#TBT: Ace Sabathia
The Yankees took the rubber game against the Red Sox on Thursday night thanks to a vintage performance from CC Sabathia and a timely homer from a slumping Jacoby Ellsbury.

For Sabathia, it was the first time he had as many as eight strikeouts, and gave up as few as three hits and one run in a game since Sept. 21, 2012 against the A’s. When Jackie Bradley Jr. took ball four in the fifth inning, it was the first walk Sabathia had issued to a true left-handed batter this year. He entered the game having faced 108 lefties, the most of any pitcher that hadn’t walked one yet this season.

Jacoby Ellsbury — who entered the game 7-for-47 (.149) in his previous 12 games — was the unlikely offensive hero with a tie-breaking solo homer in the seventh inning. Over the last 30 years, Ellsbury and Bernie Williams (2003) are the only Yankee center fielders to hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later against Red Sox at Yankee Stadium

Andrew Miller sealed the win by punching out Rusney Castillo to end the game, earning his 24th save in 24 chances this season. He now has the third-longest streak of converted saves to begin a stint with a team in major-league history, behind only Brad Lidge (44 with Phillies in 2008-09) and Willie Hernandez (32 with Tigers in 1984).

8/4 to 8/6 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

Home sweet home. The Yankees are back in the Bronx following that long ten-game road trip, and tonight they open a six-game homestand with the first of three against the Red Sox. The Yankees are 6-3 against the BoSox this year. Boston took two of three at Yankee Stadium in the second series of the season way back in April. Lots has changed since then.

What Have The Red Sox Done Lately?

Gosh, the Red Sox are bad. I mean really bad. They did take two of three from the Rays at home this past weekend, but otherwise they’ve lost 12 of 17 games since the All-Star break, including eight in a row at one point. The Sawx are 47-59 with a -65 run differential overall. They’re 13 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. Remember that series at Fenway Park right before the break? The Red Sox could have climbed to within 2.5 games of first place with a sweep. What a fall.

Offense & Defense

Overall, the Red Sox are averaging 4.21 runs per game with a team 95 wRC+, so their offense is nowhere close to what it was expected to be before the season. They are currently without OF Mookie Betts (concussion) and 2B Dustin Pedroia (hamstring), arguably their two best players. Neither is due to come off the DL this week. Also, 3B Pablo Sandoval (86 wRC+) is day-to-day after taking a pitch to the arm over the weekend.

Ortiz. (Presswire)
Ortiz. (Presswire)

The big name in manager John Farrell’s lineup is still DH David Ortiz (115 wRC+), who has been much better in recent weeks but is no longer the hitter he was the last few years. The same applies to 1B Mike Napoli (90 wRC+), who has always seemed to like hitting in the new Yankee Stadium. UTIL Brock Holt (109 wRC+) has done the opposite of Ortiz and Napoli — he started crazy hot and has cooled off. Boston’s most effective hitter right now is SS Xander Bogaerts (108 wRC+), who hits for average (.319) and not much else (3.9 BB% and .096 ISO).

OF Hanley Ramirez (105 wRC+) is now joined by OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (14 wRC+ in limited time) and OF Rusney Castillo (71 wRC+ in limited time) in the outfield thanks to the Betts injury and the Shane Victorino trade. C Blake Swihart (66 wRC+) and C Ryan Hanigan (90 wRC+) are the catching tandem. The bench features IF Josh Rutledge (16 wRC+ in extremely limited time), UTIL Travis Shaw (214 wRC+ in extremely limited time), and OF Alejandro De Aza (132 wRC+).

The Red Sox defense isn’t particularly strong. Bradley is excellent in center, Castillo and De Aza are good in the corners, and Bogaerts and Holt are reliable on the middle infield. Sandoval and Hanley have been disasters. Ramirez is probably the worst defensive outfielder I have ever seen, and Sandoval’s mobility seems to be gone. Napoli is fine at first. Swihart and Hanigan have both been average-ish at throwing out runners. StatCorner says Hanigan is an above-average pitch-framer, Swihart about average. Hit it to Hanley.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday (7pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Henry Owens (MLB Debut)
This start was supposed to go to Rick Porcello, who is having a miserable season (5.81 ERA and 4.66 FIP). He was just placed on the DL with a triceps issue over the weekend, however. Owens, 23, will make his big league debut tonight instead. He has a 3.16 ERA (3.68 FIP) in 122.1 Triple-A innings this season with a good strikeout rate (20.6%) and a few too many walks (11.2%). It’s worth noting Owens has a 40.7% ground ball rate in Triple-A, which is unusually low for a top pitching prospect. (Phil Hughes had a 60%+ grounder rate in the minors, for example.) Baseball America ranked Owens as the 44th best prospect in baseball before the season and said he works in the 89-92 mph range with his fastball, backing it up with a great changeup and an improving curveball. Owens walks a fine line — he has to get ahead with his average fastball to set up that changeup, but his fastball command is not great. The Yankees could find themselves in lots of hitter’s counts tonight if they’re patient and Owens shows some first start jitters.

Wednesday (7pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (MLB Debut!) vs. RHP Steven Wright (vs. NYY)
Woooo Severino! The Yankees will call up their top pitching prospect to make his big league debut tomorrow night. That’ll be fun. Wright, on the other hand, is a 30-year-old knuckleballer with a 4.53 ERA (5.23 FIP) in 59.2 innings covering seven starts and seven relief appearances this year. Like most knuckleballers, he has a low strikeout rate (15.2%), a low ground ball rate (43.0%), and a sky high home run rate (1.66 HR/9). His walk rate (7.8%) is pretty good considering the entire point of throwing a knuckleball is creating unpredictable break. Wright’s platoon split is relatively small (.338 vs. .315 wOBA in favor of righties) and he throws his knuckler in the low-70s. He throws the pitch over 90% of the time. The rest of the time he throws the requisite show-me low-80s fastball. The Yankees did see Wright earlier this year — he allowed two runs in five innings in that 19-inning game way back in April.

Wright's fingertip ball. (Presswire)
Wright’s fingertip ball. (Presswire)

Thursday (7pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (vs. NYY)
Rodriguez, 22, has a 4.34 ERA (4.14 FIP) in 12 starts and 66.1 innings since being called up a few weeks ago, which is a nice little reminder Severino isn’t guaranteed to dominate right away just because he has great minor league numbers. Rodriguez has very average peripherals (20.1 K%, 8.6 BB%, 42.1 GB%, 1.09 HR/9) and has been more effective against righties (.294 wOBA) than lefties (.329 wOBA). He’s a three-pitch pitcher, using his mid-90s four-seamer a ton, more than 70% of the time. Mid-80s changeups and sliders are Rodriguez’s other two offerings. The Yankees saw the young southpaw right before the All-Star break, scoring two runs in 6.2 innings.

Bullpen Status
I was surprised to see the Red Sox hold on to closer RHP Koji Uehara (2.33 ERA/2.33 FIP) at the trade deadline, but I guess no one is eager to pick up a 40-year-old reliever owed $9M next year. RHP Junichi Tazawa (2.93/2.41) is Uehara’s primary setup man and has had a rough few weeks of late. At this point LHP Craig Breslow (3.24/5.12) is Farrell’s go-to matchup southpaw.

The rest of Boston’s bullpen includes RHP Alexi Ogando (3.88/5.33), RHP Robbie Ross (3.98/4.07), RHP Ryan Cook (10.38/3.77 in very limited time), and noted farter RHP Jean Machi (5.20/4.49). The Red Sox had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is as fresh as can be in early-August. The Yankees were off yesterday as well, but check out our Bullpen Workload page anyway. Then head over to Over The Monster for the latest and greatest on the BoSox.

(Video via @iamjoonlee)

7/10 to 7/12 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox


It’s the final series of the first half, and, of course, it’s up in the Boston. The last series before the break always seems to be a tough one. The Yankees are 4-2 against the Red Sox this season, including 3-0 at Fenway Park. They swept a series up there back in April, when Alex Rodriguez hit his unmarketable 660th career home run to tie Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time list. You remember that, right? Of course you do.

What Have The Red Sox Done Lately?

The BoSox had an off-day yesterday and are playing much better than they were earlier in the season. They swept two games from the Marlins earlier this week, and have won four straight and eight of their last ten games overall. That has them all the way up to … 41-45 with a -39 run differential. The Red Sox are 5.5 games behind the Yankees and still in last place in the AL East.

Offense & Defense

At 4.23 runs per game with a team 97 wRC+, the Red Sox have had a below-average offense overall this season, just as everyone expected back in Spring Training. The Sawx are averaging 5.50 runs per game during their recent 8-2 stretch, however. 2B Dustin Pedroia (hamstring), OF Daniel Nava (thumb), C Christian Vazquez (elbow), and C Blake Swihart (foot) are all on the DL right now and aren’t expected back this weekend.

All-Star. (Presswire)
All-Star. (Presswire)

Manager John Farrell’s lineup is still headlined by DH David Ortiz (103 wRC+), who has been better of late but clearly is no longer the hitter he was in his prime. Nowadays CF Mookie Betts (112 wRC+) and SS Xander Bogaerts (107 wRC+) are leading the offense with All-Star UTIL Brock Holt (123 wRC+) chipping in as well. OF Hanley Ramirez (119 wRC+) and 3B Pablo Sandoval (92 wRC+) have been up and down all year.

1B Mike Napoli (80 wRC+) has been so bad this year that Ortiz has played first base a handful of times recently. Seriously. OF Alejandro De Aza (108 wRC+) and OF Shane Victorino (103 wRC+) are currently platooning in right field, and C Ryan Hanigan (107 wRC+) is the regular backstop. C Sandy Leon (15 wRC+), IF Deven Marrero (-100 wRC+ in extremely limited time), and IF Travis Shaw (43 wRC+) fill out the bench.

The Red Sox are an okay defensive club with some major weak spots. Hanley is legitimately the worst defensive outfielder in baseball and Sandoval seems to have lost quite a bit of range this year. He handles stuff hit to him, but anything requiring a few steps in either direction has been an issue. Betts is good in center and De Aza is good in right (Victorino not so much these days), and Bogaerts is much improved at short. Holt is a fine fill-in for Pedroia and Hanigan can’t throw anyone out (21% caught stealing rate), but he is one hell of a pitch-framer. Whoever they play at first is no bueno.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. BOS) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (vs. NYY)
Buchholz, 30, has really turned around his season the last few weeks and is currently sitting on a 3.27 ERA (2.54 FIP) in 17 starts and 110 innings. His strikeout (23.0%), walk (5.1%), ground ball (49.4%), and home run (0.41 HR/9) rates are all better than the league average. Buchholz has a reverse platoon split this season (.310 wOBA vs. 268 wOBA in favor righties) which doesn’t match up with the rest of his career. Low-90s two and four-seamers and an upper-80s cutter set up his upper-70s curveball and low-80s changeup, both of which are legit swing-and-miss pitches on their best days. The Yankees annihilated Buchholz back in April, scoring ten runs (nine earned) in 3.1 innings. It was a bloodbath.

Saturday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (No vs. NYY)
The Red Sox called up the 22-year-old Rodriguez a few weeks ago and he has a 3.69 ERA (3.12 FIP) in eight starts and 46.1 innings so far as a big leaguer. His strikeout (22.9%) and walk (7.8%) rates are close to league average and his ground ball (41.9%) and homer (0.58 HR/9) rates don’t really match up. One or the other figures to climb going forward, especially considering his home ballpark. Righties (.278 wOBA) have had a little more success against him than lefties (.266 wOBA). Rodriguez is a three-pitch pitcher and he uses mid-90s four-seamer a ton, more than 70% of the time. Mid-80s changeup and sliders are his other two offerings. The Yankees haven’t faced Rodriguez yet this year. They’re going in blind.


Sunday (1:30pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Wade Miley (vs. NYY)
Miley, 28, has turned things around a bit, though not to the extent of Buchholz. He has a 4.50 ERA (3.90 FIP) in 17 starts and 96 innings, and does it mostly by getting grounders (48.7%). His homer rate (0.75 HR/9) is fine but both his strikeout (17.0%) and walk (8.9%) rates are below the league average. Miley has had much more success against left-handed batters (.254 wOBA) than right-handed batters (.354 wOBA) this season, which has been the case his entire career. Low-90s two and four-seamers are Miley’s main offerings, which he uses to set up mid-80s sliders and low-80s changeups. He tends to throw the two-seamer more than the four-seamer. The Yankees have already seen Miley twice this year, scoring two runs in 5.1 innings back in early-April and three runs in seven innings in late-April.

Bullpen Status
The bullpen, specifically the middle relief, can be a bit of a headache for Farrell. At least the late innings. Boston’s bullpen has a 3.93 ERA (4.32 FIP) overall, which has them in the bottom five of the league. RHP Koji Uehara (2.53 ERA/2.27 FIP) closes and RHP Junichi Tazawa (2.45/2.67) is his primary setup man. LHP Tommy Layne (3.46/3.77) is the go-to late-inning matchup lefty.

RHP Matt Barnes (5.24/5.54), LHP Craig Breslow (4.15/5.59), RHP Alexi Ogando (3.32/4.92), and LHP Robbie Ross Jr. (4.13/4.84) are the rest of the relievers. Baseball is a different game than it was 10-15 years ago, but the old school approach of “wear down the starter and get to the shaky middle relief” strategy will work against this Red Sox club. Their bullpen is fresh thanks to yesterday’s off-day. Check out our Bullpen Workload page and Over The Monster for the status of the Yankees’ bullpen and the latest on the Red Sox, respectively.

Yankeemetrics: May 1-3 (Red Sox)

Number 660 for Al from Miami (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Number 660 for Al from Miami. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

The Not Milestone Home Run
Alex Rodriguez just doesn’t do normal. So it was hardly surprising when his 660th career home run on Friday night played out like a movie script: a pinch-hit, tie-breaking solo shot in the eighth inning that not only silenced the unremitting boos of the Fenway crowd but also lifted the Yankees to a critical win over the Red Sox.

Although he’s had his share of dramatic longballs in his career, this home run was far from predictable for A-Rod:

• Before Friday, he was 1-for-19 as a pinch-hitter (including the postseason) and that lone hit was a single in 2013. Of those 19 at-bats, only three times did he even hit the ball to the outfield.
• He swung away on a 3-0 pitch and hit just the third homer of his career on a 3-0 count. The others were in 2001 off Barry Zito and 2009 off Ervin Santana.
• The pitch that went over the Green Monster was a 94 mph fastball from Junichi Tazawa; prior to the homer, A-Rod was 1-for-13 in at-bats ending in pitches at least 94 mph this season.

Matching Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list wasn’t the only history that A-Rod made with that swing of the bat.

He also became the first Yankee to hit a go-ahead pinch-hit home run at Fenway since Johnny Blanchard in 1961. And the homer was his fourth against the Red Sox in the eighth inning or later that gave the Yankees the lead – twice as many as any other Yankee has hit in the last 50 years.

Evolution of Eovaldi
The Yankees clinched their fifth straight series win this season with a 4-2 victory against the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon. It’s also the fourth series in a row at Fenway Park that they’ve taken from the Red Sox.

Nathan Eovaldi turned in another strong outing by holding the Red Sox to just two runs while pitching into the seventh inning. For the first time all season, his four-seam fastball was a legit weapon, netting him 14 outs and allowing just two hits off the pitch. Entering the game, batters were hitting .481 in at-bats ending in his heater, the worst mark among all pitchers this season (min. 100 fastballs).

With Joe Girardi deciding to rest the official non-closer, Dellin Betances got his first save opportunity of the season and left no doubt that he could handle the pressure of closing out a game. He entered in the eighth inning and needed just 14 pitches to strike out all four batters he faced to secure the 4-2 win.

How impressive was that performance? Betances joined Goose Gossage (May 14, 1982) and Mariano Rivera (June 24, 2009) as the only Yankee relievers to record a save of at least four outs and strike out every batter he faced.

Brooms out in Beantown
The Yankees improved to 16-9 with a win on Sunday night, giving them their first series sweep of three-or-more games at Fenway Park since the epic five-game sweep in August 2006.

Jacoby Ellsbury is scorching hot right now and added four more hits on Sunday night, bringing his season batting average up to .351. He is the first Yankee outfielder to go 4-for-4 or better against the Red Sox since Dave Winfield in 1985. Ellsbury also walked and was hit by a pitch, becoming the first Yankee to reach base six times in a nine-inning game against Red Sox since Snuffy Stirnweiss in 1945.

Brett Gardner put the game out of reach with a three-run homer in the sixth inning to make it 8-0, the second straight day he plated three runs against Boston. He’s the first Yankee left fielder with back-to-back games of at least three RBI and two hits against the Red Sox since Mickey Mantle in 1966.

Despite a shaky ninth inning during which he loaded the bases, Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless frame for his 10th save in 10 tries this season. Miller is the second Yankee to convert his first 10 save opportunities with the team (since saves became an official stat in 1969), joining Tippy Martinez in 1975-1976.

5/1 to 5/3 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox


Time for another series against an AL East team. This will be the Yankees’ eighth series of the season and their sixth against a division rival. The only two non-AL East series were in the Detroit and the Subway Series last weekend. The Yankees are in Boston for three games against the Red Sox this weekend.

What Have The Red Sox Done Lately?

The Red Sox just took two of three from the Blue Jays at home, and it was their first series win in two weeks. Overall, Boston is 12-10 with a -10 run differential this season and a game back of the Yankees (13-9, +26 run differential) for first place in the AL East. It’s way too early to worry about that though.

Offense & Defense

As expected, the Red Sox have been one of the best offensive teams in baseball so far this season, averaging 5.14 runs per game. They only have a team 98 wRC+ though, mostly because their power hasn’t really shown up yet. They are currently without OF Shane Victorino (hamstring) and C Christian Vazquez (Tommy John surgery), neither of whom will return this series.

Sandoval. (Maddie Meyer/Getty)
Sandoval. (Maddie Meyer/Getty)

Manager John Farrell’s new-look middle of the lineup is anchored by OF Hanley Ramirez (165 wRC+), who already has ten homers on the season. OF Mookie Betts (84 wRC+) and 1B Mike Napoli (49 wRC+) are off to slow starts and DH David Ortiz (109 wRC+) hasn’t really gotten hot yet. 2B Dustin Pedroia (133 wRC+) and 3B Pablo Sandoval (136 wRC+) have fared well in the early going.

UTIL Brock Holt (174 wRC+) is the world’s most annoyingly productive utility player. OF Daniel Nava (7 wRC+), SS Xander Bogaerts (94 wRC+), C Ryan Hanigan (91 wRC+), and UTIL Allen Craig (-12 wRC+!) have been below-average thus far, in some cases substantially so. C Sandy Leon is the rarely used backup catcher. That Pedroia-Ortiz-Hanley-Sandoval middle of the order is dangerous. The rest of the lineup is navigable.

Defensively, the Red Sox seem to be either really good or really bad at each position. Hanigan, Pedroia, and Sandoval are excellent while Hanley and Nava are disasters. Obviously he’s new to the position, but man, Ramirez is as bad an outfielder as I’ve ever seen. Hit it to left field. Betts is good in center despite his inexperience thanks mostly to his athleticism. Bogaerts is error-prone at short and Napoli’s fine at first.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. BOS) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (Career vs. NYY)
The Red Sox rotation has been really, really bad. Even worse than expected (MLB worst 5.75 ERA). Masterson, 30, has a 5.16 ERA (3.57 FIP) and okay at best peripheral stats (20.0 K%, 9.0 BB%, 54.5 GB%, 0.40 HR/9) in four starts and 22.2 innings. As always, he has an extreme platoon split, holding righties to a .266 wOBA and lefties to a .347 wOBA. Joe Girardi has to load the lineup with lefties against Masterson, even if it means sitting Alex Rodriguez in favor of Garrett Jones. Masterson’s trademark sinker has lost a ton of velocity the last few years — the pitch averaged 91.7 mph in 2012, 91.1 mph in 2013, 88.5 mph in 2014, and now 86.5 mph in 2015. Yikes. He backs it up with an upper-70s slider he throws nearly 40% of the time nowadays. Masterson doesn’t have a changeup to speak of and he did not face the Yankees the last time these two teams met.

Saturday: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Career vs. BOS) vs. LHP Wade Miley (Career vs. NYY)
Miley is a big reason Boston has such a poor rotation ERA. The 28-year-old has an 8.62 ERA (4.83 FIP) with more walks (14.9%) than strikeouts (13.5%) in four starts and 15.2 innings. His ground ball rate (43.4%) is a bit below-average and at some point his homer rate (0.57 HR/9) figures to climb in Fenway Park. Miley has a reverse platoon split so far this year (.419 vs. 339 wOBA in favor of lefties) but that’s a sample size issue and not in line with the rest of his career. Low-90s two and four-seamers are Miley’s main offerings, which he uses to set up mid-80s sliders and low-80s changeups. He tends to throw the two-seamer more than the four-seamer. The Yankees saw Miley at Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago and scored two runs in 5.1 innings against him.

Kelly. (Jim Rogash/Getty)
Kelly. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Sunday: RHP Adam Warren (Career vs. BOS) vs. RHP Joe Kelly (Career vs. NYY)
Kelly, 26, has probably been the Red Sox’s most consistent pitcher so far this year. He has a 4.94 ERA (3.60 FIP) in four starts and 23.2 innings with a great strikeout rate (28.9%) and below-average walk (8.3%), grounder (42.4%), and homer (1.14 HR/9) numbers. Righties (.366 wOBA) have hit him much harder than lefties (.173 wOBA) and that’s a classic early-season sample size issue. Kelly has a big fastball, sitting in the mid-to-upper-90s with his two and four-seamers, though his mid-80s slider and mid-80s changeup lag. It’s no surprise he throws a fastball more than 70% of the time. Kelly held the Yankees to one hit and one run in seven innings earlier this month.

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Red Sox had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is fresh. Closer RHP Koji Uehara (1.75 FIP) either dominates or blows up spectacularly. There’s no middle ground and it’s been going on since last year. RHP Junichi Tazawa (3.83 FIP) is the primary setup man and probably the only other reliever Farrell truly trusts at this point. As bad as the rotation has been, the bullpen has a 4.03 ERA, which is also one of the worst marks in baseball.

The rest of Boston’s eight-man bullpen includes LHP Robbie Ross (5.53 FIP), LHP Craig Breslow (4.17 FIP), LHP Tommy Layne (2.74 FIP), RHP Edward Mujica (6.77 FIP), Alexi Ogando (3.60 FIP), and RHP Dalier Hinojosa. Hinojosa was just called up and his next appearance will be his MLB debut. Expect to see a lot of Ross, Breslow, and Layne this weekend. Teams know the Yankees are vulnerable against southpaws. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the New York bullpen, then head over to Over The Monster for the latest and greatest on the Red Sox.

Yankeemetrics: April 10-12 (Red Sox)

Chase Headley, clutch Yankee. (Photo credit: Richard Perry/The New York Times
Chase Headley, clutch Yankee. (Photo: Richard Perry/New York Times)

I watched the entire game!
Three times a charm, right? Wrong.

In the series opener against their most-hated rival, the Yankees somehow erased three separate one-run deficits with their backs against the wall in the ninth, 16th and 18th innings – but could never get the big hit needed to complete the rally against the Red Sox. There are brutal losses, and then there’s the way that the Yankees lost in 19 innings on Friday night.

Let’s recap the craziness of this epic marathon in bullet-point form. First, some notes on the game length:

• It was the sixth game of at least 19 innings in franchise history and the first since a 5-4 19-inning win on August 25, 1976 against Minnesota.
• The only other time the Yankees lost a game that lasted at least 19 innings was a 3-2 loss in 19 innings on May 24, 1918 vs. Cleveland.
• The game was the longest the Yankees have ever played this early into the season (first four games).
• The Yankees and Red Sox have been playing each other since 1903. The only other game in the rivalry that lasted longer than this one was a 20-inning win on August 29, 1967.
• The game lasted six hours and 49 minutes, the longest game ever played by the Yankees in the Bronx. It was just shy of the longest game the Yankees have played anywhere, which was a seven-hour marathon at Detroit on June 24, 1962.

And now let’s put into context how improbable the clutch, game-saving hits were by Chase Headley, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran:

• Headley became the first Yankee with a game-tying two-out homer in the ninth inning against the Red Sox since Roberto Kelly in 1991; the last Yankee to do that against Boston at Yankee Stadium was Roy White in 1977.
• Teixeira’s 16th inning homer is latest game-tying home run by an American League player since the Jim Finigan (Kansas City Athletics) tied the game in the 17th inning against the Senators in 1956. Before Tex, no Yankee had done it in at least the last 75 years.
• Beltran’s 18th inning game-tying double is the latest game-tying hit by an American League player since the Tom Paciorek’s single for the White Sox in the 21st inning against the Brewers in 1984.

Oh, and did you forget that Nathan Eovaldi actually started this game and pitched the first 5 2/3 innings? All he did was become the first pitcher in at least the last 100 years to throw at least two wild pitches and hit a batter in his Yankee debut. Good times, everyone.

The hangover
Red Sox starter Joe Kelly completely dominated the Yankees lineup on Saturday afternoon (W, 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 8 K), paving the way for an eventual 8-4 loss by the home team. He became the first Red Sox pitcher to allow no more than one hit and strikeout at least eight batters against the Yankees in a game at Yankee Stadium since Pedro Martinez’s one-hit, 17-strikeout gem on September 10, 1999.

Although the Yankees’ bats eventually woke up in the sixth game of the season (see below), but it’s worth noting how anemic the offense was through five games. Again, to the bullet-points:

Through five games, the Yankees…
• .622 OPS is their lowest since 1998 (.610)
• .280 OBP is their lowest since 1989 (.259)
• .193 BA is their lowest since 1968 (.176)
• 46 strikeouts are their most in at least the last 100 years

Seventh heaven
The Yankees wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard in the Sunday night finale, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the first inning. It was the first time the Yankees scored at least seven runs in the first inning against the Red Sox since Aug. 15, 1954, when they took a 8-0 lead en route to a 14-9 victory at Yankee Stadium.

Prior to this game, not only had the Yankees never scored first in a game this season, they didn’t even have a hit in the first inning – the only the team in the majors that entered Sunday’s schedule without a first-inning hit.

The Yankees tagged Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz for 10 runs before he was pulled in the fourth inning. He is the only Red Sox pitcher to allow 10-or-more runs in fewer than four innings pitched against the Yankees over the last 100 years of the rivalry.

The Yankees broke out of their offensive slump in Sunday’s 14-4 win, but their sloppy glovework continued as they committed another error, bringing their league-leading total to nine after the first week of the season. Even worse, they have allowed at least one unearned run in each of their first six games, joining the 1995 White Sox as the only teams in the last 75 years to do that.