It’s rare that a team sees an opponent for the first time in September, but that’s the case for the Yankees, as they’ll host the Texas Rangers for their first matchup of the year. The teams will meet again to close out the season on the final weekend.
The Rangers have had an interesting season, competing for a playoff spot as late as the All-Star break. They have since collapsed now sit 12 games out of the AL Wild Card. They’ll instead look to play the spoiler role against the Yankees.
Monday: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Mike Minor
Tanaka will get the ball for the Yankees to kick off the series, coming off of solid starts in three of his last four appearances. He seems to have gotten a better feel for his splitter, racking up strikeouts and limiting walks while going deeper into games. The Yankees will need Tanaka at his best in September and beyond, and that starts on Monday against Texas.
The Rangers will counter with Mike Minor, a one-time Yankees’ trade target. Minor has regressed a bit since the deadline, going 3-4 with a 4.47 ERA over his last eight starts. He’s particularly struggled across his previous three outings. Minor is still on pace to strike out the most batters of his career, and he might reach 200 innings, so he’s still had a good season.
Tuesday: James Paxton vs. Ariel Jurado
The Yankees will turn to James Paxton in game two, coming off of his best month in pinstripes. He went 6-0 in August with a 3.57 ERA and struck out over a batter per inning, while holding opponents to a .192 average against. Paxton has never pitched in a high-leverage September before, so all eyes will be on him as he enters the most critical stretch of his Yankees career on Tuesday against the Rangers.
Texas will go with Ariel Jurado, a second-year big leaguer who has had a tough time this season for the Rangers. In 28 games (17 starts) he’s gone 7-10 with a 5.19 ERA, sporting poor strikeout and walk numbers. Jurado is coming off an appearance of six scoreless innings. though, so he’ll try to keep the good vibes rolling at the Bronx on Tuesday.
Wednesday: TBD vs. Lance Lynn
This would have been CC Sabathia’s spot, but he’s back on the injured list with more knee troubles. Instead, the Yankees will likely go with a bullpen game here. Expect to see some combination of Chad Green, Nestor Cortes, Chance Adams and Jonathan Loaisiga for the first five innings on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Rangers will send old friend Lance Lynn to the mound, who’s enjoying a resurgent season. Lynn is 14-9 with a career-best 202 strikeouts and could also reach the 200-inning threshold. The Rangers got some funny looks for giving Lynn a three-year, $30 million deal this winter, but they look all the wiser now. In case you forgot, Lynn pitched 11 games as a Yankee last year, going 3-2 with a 4.14 ERA.