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New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers: Series Preview

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The Yankees will look to win their sixth series in a row as they fly into Arlington for a four-game set.

MLB: MAY 08 Mariners at Rangers Photo by Aric Becker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Yankees have now won their last five series, most recently taking two out of three from the Orioles. That said, one can’t help but feel disappointed that they failed to sweep in Camden, especially given the manner of the loss. The Yankees jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first, and it looked like it could be smooth sailing to the sweep, but a complete pitching disaster from start to finish doomed their chances.

Regardless, the Yankees will have to shake off the let down of that loss and turn the page to the upcoming series in Arlington. The Rangers sit fourth in the A.L. West and are coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of the Astros. The Yankees are lucky they won’t have to face Kyle Gibson, who has gone from the worst starter in baseball last year to staff ace in 2021. Let’s look at the pitchers they will face, and the guys the Yankees will roll out to counter.

Monday: Gerrit Cole vs. Jordan Lyles

The Yankees will look to get this series started on the right foot with their ace on the mound. Cole is in the midst of his best season, and has a chance to equal if not surpass Ron Guidry’s 1978 campaign as the single greatest season by a starting pitcher in Yankees history. He has been worth almost three wins and we’re not even a quarter of the way into the season! If I could throw out just one stat that encapsulated his dominance, it’s this: Cole’s strikeout-to-walk ratio of 78:3 is 842 percent better than league average. He is 5-1 with a sparkling 1.37 ERA and 1.13 FIP in 52.2 innings.

His Rangers counterpart hasn’t exactly had the same start to the season. In fact, Jordan Lyles has been rather miserable. Through eight starts he owns a 6.63 ERA and 5.57 FIP, and has been worse than replacement level. He doesn’t strike a ton of guys out, issues walks too frequently, and sits in the bottom fifth of the league in exit velocity, hard hit rate, and all expected stats. In other words, just the guy the Yankees lineup would want to face to set the tone offensively for the season.

Tuesday: Jameson Taillon vs. Mike Foltynewicz

Taillon has been an enigma for the Yankees. On one hand, he gets consistently barreled up, resulting in over two home runs per nine surrendered. On the other hand, he possesses wipeout stuff, striking out over 30 percent of the batters he faces. I’m really not sure what to think of him at this point. As he makes his eighth start, he is is 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA, 4.47 FIP, and 43 strikeouts in 33.1 innings.

His opponent has had quite the roller coaster of a big league career. Mike Foltynewicz was infamously the Braves starter in Game Five of the 2019 NLDS, which they lost after surrendering 10 runs in the first inning. He was DFA’d the following season after experiencing a precipitous drop in his fastball velocity in the spring. The velo is back in his first eight starts with the Rangers, but that’s about all that has gone right for him, as he is 1-3 with a 4.60 ERA, 5.50 FIP, and 39 strikeouts in 45 innings.

Wednesday: Corey Kluber vs. TBA

Kluber stumbled in his most recent start after three consecutive strong outings. Still, after failing to make it five innings in his first four starts, he has now cleared at least 5.2 innings in each of his last four. The changeup continues to be a weapon while the curveball looked particularly filthy against the Orioles last Friday. On the year, Kluber is 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA, 3.99 FIP, and 41 strikeouts in 41.1 innings.

The Rangers have yet to announce a starter for Wednesday’s contest. The spot would normally belong to Kohei Arihara, but he is on the IL with a finger contusion. I expect they will go with a bullpen game, with Hyeon-Jong Yang likely receiving the bulk of the innings following an opener.

Thursday: Domingo Germán vs. Dane Dunning

Germán has been quietly effective for the Yankees so far. He has allowed only six earned runs across his last four starts combined — 24.1 innings total — and has been pitch efficient, reducing the overall mileage on his arm. His command has shown signs of wavering as he flags in middle innings, and this has prevented him from going really deep in his starts. Overall, Germán is 3-2 with a 3.62 ERA, 4.22 FIP, and 37 strikeouts in 37.1 innings.

Dane Dunning gets the start for the series finale. He came over to the Rangers as the centerpiece of the deal that sent Lance Lynn to the White Sox, and was included in the 2016 trade alongside Lucas Giolito that saw Adam Eaton join the Nationals (lol). A former first round draft pick, he has impressed so far for the Rangers. Despite possessing a fastball that barely touches ninety, he gets batters to chase over 30 percent of the time and strikes put over one-fourth of hitters faced. In eight starts, he is 2-3 with a 4.34 ERA, 2.61 FIP, and 42 strikeouts in 37.1 innings.