The Yankees went on the road and did exactly what they were supposed to do against two of the weaker teams in the American League. They took both series from the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals to widen their first place lead as they return to the Bronx.
They will host the San Diego Padres, who come in with a 28-25 record in their first season after signing Manny Machado. Their young rotation is led by early rookie of the year candidate Chris Paddack, and in the bullpen former Yankees Kirby Yates has not blown a save. With 20 saves and a 1.13 ERA, Yates is on pace for the best season of his career and leads all relievers in WAR.
Game One: TBD vs. Matt Strahm
The southpaw Strahm has been effective in 50 innings this season, pitching to a 3.06 ERA with a 1.44 BB/9 rate. He has a good mix of pitches, none of them used more than 42% of the time. The most frequently used four-seamer isn’t going to blow anyone away, averaging 90.9 mph. His two most effective pitches are his slider and changeup, both resulting in an expected batting average under .260 per Statcast. Over his last four games, Strahm has allowed two runs in each appearance but only walking a total of three hitters in the same span. He wont’t dominate with strikeouts, or walk a lot of batters, but he will be looking to challenge hitters.
Game Two: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Eric Lauer
Tanaka and Austin Romine looks like a combination the Yankees might continue to use, while Sanchez gets a consistent designated hitter day or rest day. Over Tanaka’s three most recent starts Romine has caught each one, pitching a total of 19 innings and allowing only two earned runs while striking out 18 with one walk. One of the biggest problems for Tanaka has been the long ball, and over the last two games he has been able to keep the ball in the park.
Lauer is another left-handed pitcher the Yankees will have to face in the series, and he presents a different strategy compared to Strahm. Lauer throws his four-seam fastball more than half the time at 52.1%, and it’s been working for him with a .237 expected batting average and .394 expected slugging. His secondary pitch to watch out for will be his curveball, which he throws 16.1% of the time with a 25% whiff rate. Lauer has had a productive last two starts at home but will have to try in the Bronx if he wants to continue his strong season.
Game Three: TBD vs. Chris Paddack
Originally, Paddack was not supposed to pitch against the Yankees in this series, but will get a chance after a stiff neck prior to Sunday’s game against the Blue Jays pushed back his start. As previously mentioned, Paddack is having a great rookie season and is the current ace of the staff. He completely skipped Triple-A competition, starting this year in the majors and dominating with mostly two pitches. His four seam fastball (59.6%) and changeup (30.6%) make up almost of all his arsenal and are just demolishing big league hitters. Paddack carries a sub-two ERA into this match, and his two main pitches both having an expected average of under .200.
With two starting pitchers to be determined, the Yankees will likely look to their bullpen for support. Luis Cessa, Chance Adams, Nestor Cortes, and David Hale are all long relief options the Yankees have to eat up some innings, with Chad Green a possible opener.
Lastly, on Wednesday we might see the return of James Paxton to the rotation, but nothing has been officially announced. The Yankees reported that he has been feeling something in his left knee but his expected date is May 29th. If everything works out, Wednesday’s game could be a pitching performance matchup to look out for.