Fresh off of a series victory against Houston, the Yankees are back in New York to kick off a three-game set against Cleveland tonight. Oddly enough, this week has shaped up to be a postseason rematch. So far, it has worked out in New York’s favor. After a mediocre start to the season, the Yankees have been on a roll lately, winning 13 of their last 15 games. Although Cleveland leads the AL Central, they are hovering just above the .500 mark. Can the Yankees keep their new winning streak alive through this series? Here’s a look at the pitching match ups and a preview of what to expect from Cleveland.
Game 1: CC Sabathia vs. Josh Tomlin
Other than the brief hip injury, CC Sabathia has had a great start to the season. He is coming off of three straight outings where he has surrendered one run or less, and he even lasted seven innings in Anaheim. The last time CC faced Cleveland was, of course, Game 5 of the ALDS when he struck out nine batters and held them to just two runs.
Josh Tomlin, on the other hand, has struggled early. Let’s have fun with small sample size. Through 18 and two thirds innings, Tomlin has pitched to a ghastly 9.16 ERA with 4.82 HR/9. He gave up four home runs to Anaheim, and another four to the Cubs. Oof. The Yankees happen to have the third-most home runs in all of baseball, so this should be a fun game. Though it is equally likely that he will somehow shut them down.
Game 2: Sonny Gray vs. Trevor Bauer
It didn’t take long for Yankees fans to start calling for Sonny Gray to be pulled from the rotation, but he hasn’t been all bad. Gray was roughed up during consecutive outings against the Red Sox and Blue Jays. However, he limited the Twins to just three runs last week, and took a hard-luck loss against the Astros. As Jake Devin noted earlier, his velocity has ticked back up to normal, and his location has been better. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.
Trevor Bauer is pitching well, with five straight quality starts under his belt. During his last outing against the Rangers, he notched 11 strikeouts and held them to just four hits. It has been a few days since Didi Gregorius last homered, but he has one career dinger against Bauer. He could be due.
Game 3: Domingo German vs. Mike Clevinger
Jordan Montgomery exited Wednesday’s game with a left elbow strain, so Domingo German will take his spot in the rotation for now. It was less than ideal to turn to the bullpen so early in the game, but German was up to the task and completely shut down the Astros for four innings. He is the best option the Yankees have at the moment in terms of a spot starter. This will be his first MLB start.
Mike Clevinger has a 2.82 ERA through his first six starts, and held the Rangers to three runs during his last outing. The Yankees have only faced him a handful of times, including in the ALDS, but they have had successful at-bats. Aaron Judge took him deep during a relief outing last summer, and Greg Bird hit a two-run bomb off Clevinger during the postseason.
Oh, and good news: the Yankees will avoid facing Corey Kluber altogether. That should bode well for their chances of winning a fifth straight series.