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Yankees at Reds series preview: Living in “Cin”cinnati

The Yankees make a quick stop in Cincinnati before returning home

New York Yankees v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

April is officially over, May is well underway and the Yankees just keep winning. Folks, this team might actually be good. There’s obviously still a ways to go before actually being able to determine if the Yankees are true contenders or early-season pretenders, but the stars are shining bright in the Bronx these days.

Coming off a three-game series against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs, the Yankees will make a quick stop in Cincinnati to face the Reds before welcoming the Astros at home. The fact that the Yankees were able to win the series in Chicago against what many consider the best team in baseball is a telling sign that this team is special.

The Reds are off to surprisingly good start of their own. At the time of writing this, the Reds are currently sitting on top of the NL Central with a 17-14 record. So it’s a battle of two teams that no one expected to be in first place, though I think the Reds start is probably more surprising (and less likely to last) than the Yankees. Let’s see if the Yankees can bring them down to earth.

Game 1: Masahiro Tanaka (4-1, 4.46 ERA) vs. Rookie Davis (1-1, 7.36 ERA)

It’s the Yankees’ ace (yes, I called him the ace and no, I’m not the one who is wrong) going up against what has become the centerpiece of the deal that brought Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees.

Tanaka’s ERA is obviously inflated for a pitcher of his caliber, but he’s still working it down from a rough start to the season. After pitching an absolute gem with a complete game shutout at Fenway Park, Tanaka faced the Blue Jays and was charged with four runs in 6.1 innings. He didn’t have the same stuff but he got the job done. The fourth run was only charged to Tanaka after Tyler Clippard struggled to finish the inning and Dellin Betances was called in and got the yips and balked in a run.

Rookie Davis surprisingly made the Reds rotation after never having pitched in the big leagues before and only pitching five games at Triple-A last year. Nonetheless the Reds, who really have nothing to lose, gave him a shot. The early season returns haven’t been great for Davis so far, but he is coming off the best start of his early career, a five-inning effort against the Pirates in which he allowed no runs.

Game 2: CC Sabathia (2-1, 5.45 ERA) vs. Tim Adleman (1-1, 4.22 ERA)

The Yankees’ current ace will be followed by their former ace. Sabathia started the season strong but has hit a rough patch recently. After holding a 1.47 ERA in 18.1 innings through his first three starts, Sabathia has since been charged with 17 earned runs in 14.2 innings through his last three starts. Hopefully the Sabathia from early in the season shows up as he’ll be looking to bounceback to form.

Adleman might present more of a challenge to the Yankees’ powerful offense than Davis will. His 4.22 ERA is mainly the result of a five-running shelling at the hands of the Cardinals, but overall he’s pitched well this season. He even bounced back from that Cardinals start with a six-inning, two-run effort against the Pirates.

Overall the Yankees should be able to handle themselves capably against the Reds. The Yankees offense should have no problem keeping their torrid hitting, and the starting pitching should be able to hold their offense down. If not, the Yankees’ vaunted bullpen, led by Betances and Chapman who is coming back to where he started his MLB career, should be able to assist.

Good teams beat worse teams and if the Yankees want to keep telling the world they’re a good team, a two-game series against the Reds seems like a good opportunity to do just that. After taking the series from the Cubs, taking two from the Reds would end their road trip on a very positive note before heading home to face the dangerous Astros offense.

*Season statistics provided courtesy of Baseball Reference and ESPN