Delayed as it may have been, the Yankees are finally returning to the Bronx for their first home series of the year, a three-gamer against the rival Boston Red Sox. The Yankees have taken care of business on the road so far, going 4-1 against the Nationals and Orioles, but it’ll be good for the team to finally return home.
Although series against the Red Sox always have a little extra juice, the current version of the Red Sox is significantly weaker than the one the Yankees have faced the last few seasons. The club has just three healthy starting pitchers at the moment, and is relying heavily on inexperienced arms and bullpen games, to a predictable lack of success at 3-4 so far against the Orioles and Mets. The lineup is still above average, but the absence of Chris Sale and the offseason losses of Mookie Betts and David Price have made the Red Sox an exercise in mediocrity this season.
Friday: Jordan Montgomery vs. Ryan Weber
At long last, Jordan Montgomery will make his season debut for the Yankees in 2020. It’ll be his first regular season appearance at Yankee Stadium since April 2018, and anticipation is high. Montgomery looked stellar in summer camp, showing increased velocity and dusting off that hammer of a breaking ball in an excellent exhibition start against the Mets. He’s started against Boston three times but is still looking for his first win, going 0-0 with a 4.40 ERA.
The only traditional starter going for Boston in this series, Weber’s season got off to a tough start against the Orioles, when he gave up six runs in 3.2 innings. He’s faced the Yankees three times before, but all in relief. A soft-tossing sinkerballer, his pitch-to-contact approach could play to the Yankees’ advantage.
Saturday: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Zack Godley
Amazingly, Tanaka will make his season debut for the Yankees less than a month after he was struck in the head by a line drive in summer camp. Tanaka experienced no concussion symptoms, and has worked himself up to full strength. After pitching well against the Red Sox before, Tanaka had a ghastly 24.75 ERA against Boston last year. We’ll see if he can bounce back in his first start.
Saturday night will likely become a bullpen game for the Red Sox, although Godley might be able to go 4-5 innings. A righty who started 81 out his of 122 games in Arizona over five years, Godley struck out seven batters in four innings against the Mets on Monday. He throws mostly cutters and curveballs, and rarely cracks 90 mph on the gun.
Sunday: James Paxton vs. TBD
It will be interesting to see how Paxton looks on Sunday night, because his first appearance of the season couldn’t have gone much worse. Paxton’s mechanics looked out of whack vs. Washington, where he gave up three earned runs in parts of two innings and allowed six of nine baserunners to reach. His velocity was down and his arm slot was significantly lower, which gives the Yankees a few things to pay attention to on Sunday.
The Red Sox will likely use another bullpen game on Sunday. Josh Osich and Matt Hall could be candidates to be the “opener,” as could ex-Yankees farmhand Colten Brewer, who notched four K’s in 2.2 innings on Tuesday. At this point, the Red Sox will have to rely on “Johnny Wholestaff” to get them through Saturday and Sunday.