Yankees vs. Red Sox: Things to know, how to watch, prediction as AL East rivals square off for first time in 2019
The Yankees and Red Sox renew their rivalry with a two-game series this week
Tuesday evening in the Bronx, the New York Yankees and defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox renew their rivalry at Yankee Stadium. The BoSox beat the Yankees in four games in last year's ALDS en route to their World Series win. Their quick little two-game series this week is their first meeting in 2019.
Neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox have gotten off to the kind of start they hoped his season. The Yankees are 6-9 through 15 games while the Red Sox are 6-11 through 17 games. New York has a big edge in run differential though (plus-10 vs. minus-32). Both clubs go into the series having lost six of their last 10 games.
Here are the details for this week's series. Both games can be streamed regionally via fuboTV (try for free).
|Date||Start Time||Starting Pitchers||TV|
Tues,, April 16
6:35 p.m. ET
WPIX, NESN, MLBN
Weds., April 17
6:35 p.m. ET
LHP J.A. Happ (0-2, 8.76) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (0-0, 8.40)
YES, NESN, ESPN
Those are some ugly ERAs. Neither club has received good -- or even mediocre -- work from their rotation in the early going. It is the primary reason they are under .500 and looking up at the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East.
"I don't think going to Yankee Stadium has to do with what we do," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said to reporters, including Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, following Monday's loss (BAL 8, BOS 1). "We just have to play better. It can be Yankee Stadium, or Arizona, or in Seattle, Oakland -- we just have to play better."
"We know what they are capable of. Anytime we get together with them, it is going to be tough battles. Both teams before long will probably be rolling pretty well," Yankees skipper Aaron Boone told reporters, including George King of the New York Post, following his team's loss Sunday (CWS 5, NYY 2) and before an off-day Monday.
The Yankees and Red Sox are struggling in the early going and there would be no better time to break out this week. Chances are they'll be in the race come September. Head-to-head wins now make life easier later. Here are some things to know going into this week's two-game series at Yankee Stadium.
Both teams are beat up
No team in baseball has had more injuries this season than the Yankees. They currently have 12 players on the injured list (Greg Bird was added Tuesday morning), and they aren't role players either. The Yankees are missing five starting position players, among others. Here is a partial list of players the Yankees are without at the moment:
- Best starting pitcher: Luis Severino (shoulder inflammation, lat strain)
- Best relief pitcher: Dellin Betances (shoulder inflammation)
- Starting catcher: Gary Sanchez (calf strain)
- Starting shortstop: Didi Gregorius (Tommy John surgery)
- Starting third baseman: Miguel Andujar (torn labrum)
- Starting center fielder: Aaron Hicks (back soreness)
- Starting left fielder/DH: Giancarlo Stanton (biceps strain)
Those seven players produced 22.8 WAR last year and it was reasonable to expect similar impact this year given the fact they are all in (or entering) their primes. That is a lot of production on the injured list right now, and many of those players are weeks away from returning. Stanton and Sanchez might be back before the end of the month. Everyone else is ways off.
The Red Sox do not have as many injuries as the Yankees but they are not going into this week's series at full health either. Super utility man Brock Holt is on the injured list with an eye issue, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is day-to-day with an illness, and left fielder Andrew Benintendi is day-to-day after fouling a pitch into his foot Sunday. Eduardo Nunez was out of the lineup Monday with an unknown ailment as well.
Thanks to injuries and illness, the Red Sox did not have a single healthy bench player during Monday's game, and they had to start catcher Christian Vazquez at second base (!) and first baseman Steve Pearce in left field. It's unclear whether Bradley, Benintendi, or Nunez will play this series -- given how gingerly he moved around following the foul ball, I wouldn't be surprised if Benintendi is limited to DH -- which could mean a short bench and more creative defensive alignments for Boston.
Unlikely sources are providing offense
The Yankees are averaging 4.87 runs scored per game this season, 16th most in baseball. The Red Sox are 19th at 4.35 runs per game. A year ago these were the two highest scoring teams in baseball. That most certainly is not the case now. Runs have been tougher to come by in the early going.
In fact, both clubs have needed offensive punch from an unlikely source to score as many runs as they have in the early going. First baseman Mitch Moreland has provided The Big Hit in four of Boston's six wins, and infielder DJ LeMahieu is among the league leaders in batting average and on-base percentage for the Yankees.
Will LeMahieu and Moreland continue at these paces? Their track records suggest probably not. Moreland in particular has a history of starting extremely well before coming back to Earth during the summer months. That said, the Yankees and Red Sox would be even further down in the standings without LeMahieu and Moreland. They've had an impact at a time when their teams needed someone to pickup the slack..
Betts is not happy with his production
The Yankees are having trouble scoring runs because they've lost so many key players to injury. LeMahieu is hitting well, and healthy stars Aaron Judge (.278/.412/.519) and Gleyber Torres (.293/.349/.517) are doing their thing. The lineup thins out quickly behind those guys due to the injuries though.
As for the Red Sox, they're having a hard time offensively partly because Mookie Betts is hitting a decidedly un-MVP-like .222/.324/.413 in the early going. Betts is riding a 3 for 25 (.120) slump going into Tuesday's series opener against the Yankees. Following Monday's loss,
"Basically, what I'm doing is unacceptable," Betts said. "I have to figure out a way to get something done and help the team."
"I wouldn't say it's more pressure, but I know I'm definitely -- there have been many times where I can help score runs or do something and I haven't done it," said Betts. "I take full ownership of that."
Mookie is way too good to slump like this much longer, and, in fact, this series with the Yankees might help him break out. He is a career .282/.357/.470 hitter in 36 career games at Yankee Stadium, and a career .310/.381/.541 hitter against lefties. Betts and the Red Sox will see two left-handed starters (Paxton and Happ) in New York this week. Eventually Mookie will get going at the plate. There's no better time than this week.
The Yankees have some bullpen issues
Hard to believe, but it's true. Going into Tuesday's series opener, New York's bullpen is tenth in baseball with a 3.65 ERA and seventh with 0.9 WAR. That's not terrible, but it is a far cry from the "best bullpen in MLB" talk prior to the season. Protecting leads has been shockingly difficult in the early going.
The Betances injury has contributed to the bullpen woes. Zack Britton (4.05 ERA) and especially Chad Green (9.95 ERA) have had a hard time in the early going, creating some sixth and seventh inning headaches. Adam Ottavino has been lights out thus far, but he is only one man, and it takes a village to have a strong bullpen.
The Red Sox are not blessed with a deep bullpen, though the end-game tandem of Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier has been excellent (two runs in 14 innings), so Boston is in good shape in the late innings. For the Yankees, what was expected to be an overwhelming strength has yet to materialize. Getting the ball from the starter to Ottavino and Aroldis Chapman has been a challenge and that bridge could be an x-factor the next two days.
I am going with a two-game series split because these two teams always seem to play .500 ball against each other. The Red Sox hold the season series edge at 29-28 with a minus-4 run differential the last three years. In the regular season, the Yankees and Red Sox play close to dead even. I have the Yankees outlasting the diminished 2019 version of Sale on Tuesday night and the Red Sox hammering the struggling Happ on Wednesday. One win apiece, then everyone moves on to other things.
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