The Red Sox had a historic season, going 108-54 and winning the most games in franchise history. They won the AL East and finished with the best record in baseball, so they will have home field advantage in the ALDS as well as throughout the postseason, should they advance. The Yankees went 100-62 and finished with the third best record in baseball..
Here are some things to know about the ALDS matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees.
Fri., Oct. 5
7:32 p.m. ET
New York at Boston
Sat., Oct. 6
8:15 p.m. ET
New York at Boston
Mon., Oct. 8
7:40 p.m. ET
Boston at New York
Tues., Oct. 9*
8:07 p.m. ET
Boston at New York
Thurs., Oct. 11*
7:40 p.m. ET
New York at Boston
* if necessary
The Red Sox won the season series
But it was close. The Red Sox went 10-9 against the Yankees during the regular season and outscored them 116-102 in 19 games. The Yankees had a chance to clinch the season series on the final day of the regular season. Instead, the BoSox blew them out 10-2.
These two rivals played some lopsided games this season. Of their 19 games, seven of them were decided by at least seven runs. Only four were decided by no more than two runs. Here's the ballpark breakdown:
- Fenway Park: The Red Sox won seven of 10 games and outscored the Yankees 76-48.
- Yankee Stadium: The Yankees won six of nine games and outscored the Red Sox 54-40.
For all intents and purposes, the AL East race ended when the Red Sox swept four games from the Yankees at Fenway Park from August 2-5. They outscored them 28-13 in the four games to increase their division lead to 9 1/2 games.
That said, the Yankees did not have Aaron Judge (wrist), Gary Sanchez (groin), J.A. Happ (hand, foot, and mouth disease), or Andrew McCutchen (still with the Giants) for that series. The roster they take into the ALDS will look much different than the roster they used for that four-game sweep at Fenway.
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These teams have some postseason history
Boy do they ever. Three times the Yankees and Red Sox have met in the postseason and those series have resulted inin recent baseball history. A quick recap:
- 1999 ALCS: Yankees win 4-1.
- 2003 ALCS: Yankees win 4-3.
- 2004 ALCS: Red Sox win 4-3.
In the grand scheme of things, the 1999 ALCS was fairly unremarkable. Bernie Williams hit a walk-off home run in Game 1 and that's about it. In 2003, however, current Yankees manager Aaron Boone etched his name in history with his walk-off home run in the 11th inning of Game 7. The Yankees scored three runs in the eighth inning to tie the game after then Red Sox manager Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in a little too long.
The Red Sox got revenge for that 2003 ALCS defeat and then some in 2004. They became the first and so far only team in baseball history to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven postseason series. The Yankees outscored the Red Sox 32-16 in the first three games of the series. They demolished them. Then Dave Roberts stole second base in Game 4, David Ortiz clubbed a walk-off home run to keep the season alive, and the rest is history,
With any luck, the 2018 ALDS will be every bit as thrilling and iconic as the 2003 ALCS and 2004 ALCS. When the Yankees and Red Sox get together, memorable things tend to happen.
Sale's velocity is still a question
Which Chris Sale are the Red Sox getting in the ALDS? Sale will indeed start Game 1 on Friday, but are the Red Sox getting the dominant Cy Young contender, or the compromised southpaw with diminished velocity?
Two separate stints on the disabled list with shoulder trouble limited Sale to five starts and 17 innings in the final nine weeks of the regular season, and, when he did pitch, his velocity was far below its usual levels. In fact, in his final regular season start, Sale's average fastball velocity (90.2 mph) was his lowest ever in a big-league game.
Missing velocity is always a red flag., and while that very well might be the case, we still don't know whether Sale's velocity will return for the postseason. Yes, of course he can be effective at 88-92 mph. Sale at 96-100 mph is a much different animal, however.
Here's what Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, about Sale earlier this week:
The necessary change was "something that honestly it's not a huge adjustment," he said. "Chris saw it first-hand and it should be easy to fix. He'll go through it today. They have all the cool stuff out there as far as TrackMan and video so we can compare with the information we have in hand. And hopefully it's close to what we want or the way we want it."
"We do feel if the mechanics are close or perfect, velocity will come with it," Cora said.
Between mechanics and adrenaline, I don't think it would surprise anyone if Sale came out firing 98 mph fastballs Friday. Given the recent shoulder trouble and the way he finished out the regular season, no one really knows whether Sale will have his usual velocity in ALDS Game 1, and we're not going to find out until he takes the mound.
These are the two best offenses in baseball
As is often the case, the Yankees and Red Sox were two of the best offensive teams in baseball during the regular season. Boston led MLB in runs scored (876) and the Yankees were second (851). The two clubs were among the league leaders in pretty much every significant offensive category. Here's the team that had the edge head-to-head:
- Batting average: Red Sox (.268 vs. .249)
- On-base percentage: Red Sox (.339 vs. .329)
- Slugging percentage: Red Sox (.453 vs. .451)
- OPS: Red Sox (.792 vs. .781)
- OPS+: Red Sox (112 vs. 108)
- Strikeout rate: Red Sox (19.9 percent vs. 22.7 percent)
- Walk rate: Yankees (10.0 percent vs. 9.0 percent)
The Red Sox have the advantage in everything except walk rate, but, aside from batting average, the two teams are very close. The one area the Yankees might have the advantage is lineup depth. With McCutchen and Luke Voit replacing Brett Gardner and Greg Bird in the starting lineup, respectively, eight of New York's nine regulars had at least a 115 OPS+ during the regular season. Sanchez was the only exception (86 OPS+).
For Boston, six of their regulars had at least a 115 OPS+, and that's when you include Steve Pearce (140 OPS+) at first base over Mitch Moreland (102 OPS+). The bottom of New York's lineup with Miguel Andujar (126 OPS+) and Gleyber Torres (118 OPS+) is a tad more formidable than Boston's with Jackie Bradley Jr. (92 OPS+) and either Christian Vazquez (46 OPS+) or Sandy Leon (37 OPS+).
Sanchez vs. Boston's basestealers will be an X-factor
The Red Sox supplemented their powerful offense with stolen bases during the regular season. They stole 125 bases, the third most in baseball, and their 80 percent success rate led MLB. Mookie Betts (30 steals), Andrew Benintendi (21), and Bradley (17) are all a threat to run. Six other Red Sox players stole at least six bases in 2018.
In Sanchez, the Yankees have one of the top throwing catchers in baseball. His blocking can be suspect, no doubt, but his arm is a rocket. Sanchez has thrown out a well-above-average 36 percent of basestealers in his career, and the Statcast throwing metrics rank him among the game's elite:
- Average throw velocity: 86.8 mph (fourth best)
- Average pop time: 1.94 seconds (third best)
Boston went 17 for 18 stealing bases against the Yankees this season, but Sanchez spent two months on the disabled list. They went 3 for 3 stealing bases in nine games with Sanchez behind the plate and 14 for 15 in 10 games with backup Austin Romine behind the plate. Statcast ranks Romine among the game's worst throwing catchers, and the number of attempts is telling. The Red Sox attempted 0.33 steals per game with Sanchez behind the plate, but 1.5 per game against Romine.
The pitching staff plays a role in neutralizing stolen bases, absolutely. Pitchers have to mind the runner and be quick to the plate. Sanchez is clearly a far superior thrower to Romine, however, and given how much the Red Sox like to employ the stolen base, his arm figures to be a factor in the ALDS.
Both closers have struggled against the other team
Neither Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel nor Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was effective against the other team during the regular season. In fact, their lack of success against the other team goes back a few years. The numbers:
Chapman vs. BOS in 2018
Kimbrel vs. NYY in 2018
Chapman vs. BOS from 2016-18
Kimbrel vs. NYY from 2016-18
Clearly, the Red Sox have had much more success against Chapman than the Yankees have had against Kimbrel since 2016, when each closer joined their team. (The first time Chapman joined the Yankees, that is.) Kimbrel has not been automatic against the Yankees though.
Chapman and Kimbrel and still two of the very best closers in baseball and I'd happily take either guy in the ninth inning. During this rivalry though, both guys have had some issues closing out ballgames. That could make for some interesting ninth innings during the ALDS.
Price will have to get his act together
That applies to both against the Yankees and in the postseason. David Price is starting Game 2 of the ALDS on Saturday and, in four starts against the Yankees this season, he allowed 20 runs (18 earned) in 15 2/3 innings. And that includes one start in which he allowed two runs in six innings. The Yankees hit nine home runs in those 15 2/3 innings. Egads.
Throughout his long and successful career, Price owns a 4.90 ERA in 250 innings against the Yankees and a 3.01 ERA in 1,672 1/3 innings against everyone else. He's allowed 19.6 percent of his career earned runs against New York in 13.0 percent of his career innings. Furthermore, Price's postseason troubles are well-documented. He has a 5.03 ERA in 73 1/3 postseason innings and his teams are 0-9 in his nine starts. Ouch.
Price had an excellent second half overall, pitching to a 2.25 ERA in 11 starts and 68 innings (1.74 ERA in nine starts against non-Yankees teams), and right now he's throwing the ball better than he has at any point since signing with Boston three years ago. His issues with the Yankees and in the postseason have reached the point where they're no longer a blip though. They've been going on a while. The Red Sox will need Price to get over those humps to have their best chance to win the ALDS.
The Yankees will have to solve Eovaldi
Nathan Eovaldi made four starts against this former team this season, holding them to six runs (five earned) in 23 1/3 innings. He was even better than those numbers would lead you to believe. In one of those four starts he allowed two runs through seven innings, then Rays manager Kevin Cash tried to squeeze another inning out of him. Eovaldi loaded the bases on two soft singles and an intentional walk, and the bullpen allowed all three inherited runners to score.
In his return from Tommy John surgery this year -- his second career Tommy John surgery, it should be noted -- Eovaldi has embraced a cutter, and that has made him much more effective against right-handed hitters. He's always had big-time velocity, but the fastball was more hittable than the radar gun would lead you to believe. The cutter gives him something to avoid the barrel.
The Yankees have a very right-handed lineup, and that is especially true now with McCutchen and Voit replacing Gardner and Bird. New York's only regular left-handed hitters are Didi Gregorius and switch-hitter Aaron Hicks. Eovaldi matches up well against the Yankees' lineup, and the numbers this year bear that out. They might see him twice in the ALDS too.
Eovaldi says he was told by Cora to be ready to work out of the bullpen in Game 1 and to start Game 4.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 2, 2018
New York's hitters will have to make an adjustment and figure out a way to have success against Eovaldi to have a chance to move on to the ALCS.
Cubs, which shows what I know) and I'm going to ride that pick out as long as possible. . I had the Yankees winning with Voit providing a big hit, which he did with his two-run triple against Blake Treinen.(where they'd lose to the
Anyway, I am going Yankees in five in the ALDS. McCutchen and Voit make the lineup so much deeper, Happ strengthens the rotation, and in a short series the Yankees will be able to use their bullpen heavily. I have each team stealing a win on a blown save by the other team's closer, and, if ALDS MVP was a thing, I'd say it'd go to Andujar. He mashes and seems to be made for Fenway Park.