Somehow, some way, these Yankees just keep winning ballgames. Perhaps it’s better left unexplained, but it’s truly remarkable that this lineup of desperate plugs to keep a sinking ship afloat has won six of its first seven games on this current road trip.
Of course, the majority of damage inflicted by this group of never-heard-ofs has been against bottom-feeding teams like the Angels and Giants. The last leg of this trip will be against the Diamondbacks, who sit at 16-13 so far this season. The Yanks, who haven’t beaten a team above .500 yet this season (they were swept by the Astros in three games), will look to further prove themselves starting Tuesday night.
Here are the pitching matchups for the quick series:
Game One: CC Sabathia vs. Zack Greinke
The Yankees’ road swing so far has been exceptional as far as the team’s ability to pull out wins in every possible way, but Sabathia’s lone start out west was not exactly exceptional. After two phenomenal starts to begin his 2019 season, the lefty surrendered three home runs in five innings of work, though the Bombers bailed him out of a loss.
Sabathia, looking for a bounceback outing, actually has some experience against Arizona’s current roster, which consists former AL East foes like Adam Jones and Caleb Joseph. The southpaw is just three strikeouts away from 3,000, so he will likely reach that milestone tonight.
Greinke gets the ball for Arizona, as he has rebounded from what was a disastrous start to the season to put together three very productive starts in a row. He has allowed just two earned runs over his last 20 innings. Of those 20 innings, the last 13 of them have been scoreless. He carries a 3.72 ERA on the season into this start.
Greinke has also done a nice job in his career against these Yankees, holding them to a .658 OPS in 159 at-bats. DJ LeMahieu has the most experience against Greinke with 58 career at-bats, and has a home run and a .724 OPS against him.
Game Two: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Merrill Kelly
Like Sabathia, Tanaka had a rough outing against the Angels last week. He surrendered a pair a home runs after getting out to a strong start in what would be the only game the Bombers have dropped so far on this west coast swing. Tanaka’s home run bugaboos have returned of late, allowing five dingers in his last 22.2 innings after allowing none in his first two starts of the season.
Tanaka has held this current D-Backs roster to a .298 OBP in 99 career at-bats, and his toughest out had been Adam Jones, who has taken him deep three times in his career and has a 1.131 OPS in 31 career at-bats against Tanaka. Jones isn’t what he once was, but he still has a respectable .877 OPS so far this season.
The D-Backs will counter with an unknown in Merrill Kelly, who is pitching in his first major league season at the ripe age of 30. Kelly, a righty, was drafted nine years ago and pitched last season in the KBO before coming to Arizona. He currently holds a 3.94 ERA, with 27 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. His best start of the season came against the Red Sox in early April, when he allowed just one earned run over eight innings and struck out nine. His last start against the Pirates was very productive as well, tossing seven innings and allowing just two runs.
Kelly’s fastball likely won’t blow any of the Yankees hitters away, as it averages just 91.4 mph, but he throws it 50 percent of the time. He throws his curveball 20 percent of the time, but his most valuable pitch so far this season has been his changeup, which he throws 16 percent of the time, per FanGraphs.