The Yankees had a welcome off-day yesterday after the conclusion of another frustrating series. This time, the White Sox played the role of the lesser team that managed to fell the Yankees. Now, the Yankees will host the Red Sox for a two-game series in the first matchup of the year between the two rivals.
Like the Yankees, the Red Sox have gotten off to a terrible start, with Boston losing nine of their first 12 games and now entering his series at 6-11. However, Boston’s struggles have looked different than the Yankees’, in how they’ve pretty consistently gotten crushed. For all their woes, the Yankees have posted a better than average wRC+ at the plate, a better than average ERA+, and outscored their opponents. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have posted an awful -32 run differential.
These are two teams going through it, but one to a far greater extent than the other in terms of actual on-field production (injuries, on the other hand, are a different story). Now, onto the projected matchups:
Game One: James Paxton vs. Chris Sale
On paper, this one is a doozy, with a couple extra-skilled southpaws on the mound. Of course, both come into this game with question marks, especially so for Sale.
Sale’s declining velocity has been one of the season’s biggest storylines early on. After averaging over 95 mph on his four-seam fastball last year, Sale has popped the mitt at just 91 mph on average in 2019. That’s a horrifying drop, though Sale did at least hint at a rebound in his last start, when he averaged nearly 92 mph on his heater.
Even so, Sale has given up 13 runs in 13 innings this year, with four dingers allowed across three starts. Last year, Sale might have been the most imposing pitcher in the league. This time around, the Yankees stand a much better chance of doing damage.
Paxton’s uneven start is less concerning than Sale’s, mostly because he hasn’t suffered a terrifying velocity loss. Paxton got pounded in his most recent start, one that saw him yield eight hits and five runs in five innings against the Astros, but in his first two starts he struck out 14 batters against just three walks. As Kento elucidated last weekend, Paxton shouldn’t have to do much to get back on track. Let’s hope he does so against the team’s arch-nemesis.
Game Two: J.A. Happ vs. Nathan Eovaldi
Another game, another start from a struggling left-hander. This time, it will be Happ, who owns an 8.76 ERA through his first three starts. He also will face the memory of his last start against the Red Sox — Game One of the ALDS last October — which ended after just two innings pitched.
Happ has looked off so far, but no more so than his foe, Eovaldi. Eovaldi has yielded 14 runs in 15 innings on six home runs. Yankees fans have seen Eovaldi have trouble keeping the ball in the yard before, but never to that extent.
Eovaldi has had issues with control thus far as well, walking 10 batters to go along with 10 strikeouts. Just based on 2019 results, this profiles as a great chance for the Yankee lineup to get going. A pitcher that has lost the zone and has given up dingers-galore coming into Yankee Stadium? That sounds like a recipe for offense, if only the Yankees can capitalize.