The Yankees are scuffling a bit again. They had a chance to make up ground during a home stand that included series against the lowly White Sox and Tigers, but went a disappointing 3-4 over that stretch. Now, they are in the midst of a more challenging road trip, one that started with a series loss to the Athletics.
They’ll continue on to Seattle for a three-game set with the Mariners. At 78-62, the Mariners have had a better season that most expected, but Oakland’s surge has knocked Seattle to the fringes of the playoff race. The Yankees could all but extinguish the Mariners’ postseason dreams with a big series. Let’s take a look at the upcoming matchups.
Game one: Masahiro Tanaka vs. James Paxton
The series kicks off with a premier pitching duel. Tanaka was uneven through the month of August, but he is coming off a strong start against Detroit, one in which he yielded a lone run across seven innings of work. His season line is solid at this point, with a 115 ERA+ in 134 innings. He has limited walks all year and struck out a batter per inning, with a few too many home runs again profiling as Tanaka’s primary issue.
The Mariners will send their ace to the mound in the series opener. Paxton, a 29-year-old left-hander, has put forth a couple of the league’s best starts all year, striking out 16 batters against Oakland on May 2nd and twirling a no-hitter in Toronto his next time out. He clearly has the potential for dominance, but has been inconsistent lately. He owns a 4.10 ERA over his last 10 starts, allowing nine homers over that span.
Game two: Lance Lynn vs. Felix Hernandez
Lynn was a bit of a revelation upon coming over to the Bronx. He allowed just one run over his first three appearances with the Yankees, but the veteran has regressed since. Across his last four starts, Lynn has allowed 19 runs in 18.2 innings, with opposing hitters teeing off to the tune of an .892 OPS. The Yankees need Lynn to recapture the form he found after initially being traded to New York.
Opposing Lynn will be Seattle’s erstwhile ace, as King Felix hit his nadir this season. The pitcher who might have been the best on the planet as recently as 2014 was demoted to the bullpen just weeks ago, only to be reinstated in the rotation soon after. Hernandez has been somewhat better in three starts since returning to the starting staff, holding hitters to a .637 OPS. His overall numbers are simply too ugly to ignore, though: a 72 ERA+ in 147.2 innings, and poor peripherals to match.
Game three: CC Sabathia vs. Erasmo Ramirez
Sabathia is in the midst of another strong season in the twilight of his career, but he’ll have to bounce back after perhaps his worst start of the year. He was battered around for seven hits and five runs in 3.1 innings on Monday afternoon in Oakland. That being said, Sabathia was terrific in his five previous starts, maintaining a 2.70 ERA in 26 innings and striking out an eye-popping 35 batters. His last outing was poor, but that doesn’t mean all is lost for the crafty lefty.
Ramirez will oppose Sabathia. The 28-year-old right-hander appears to be a fungible fifth starter and not much more. Ramirez had some success with the division rival Rays across 2015 to 2017, but he returned to Seattle last year and has struggled in 2018. He’s recorded just seven starts but has already given up 10 homers, helping lead to a garish 5.56 ERA. The Yankees will be expected to put the clamps to Ramirez in the series finale.