The Yankees will take the field this afternoon in the boogie down with the opportunity to win a series from the team with the best record in the American League. They’ll be looking to build upon the momentum from yesterday’s thrilling come-from-behind victory (one in which the Yankees’ win expectancy was 10 percent at one point) to grab their second win in a row and fifth of the last six overall. The Bombers will send Jordan Montgomery to the mound today looking for the win.
Montgomery, who’s had an up-and-down 2021 thus far, is coming off two less-than-stellar starts against Minnesota on June 8th and Toronto on June 15th in which he allowed 13 hits and 7 earned runs in 11 combined innings. The pinstriped lining is that he has gotten the team past the fifth inning in each of his last three starts. Whether or not he continues that trend today may be an important factor, as the bullpen needed to get 15 outs in yesterday’s win (though a much-needed off-day is on deck tomorrow).
Montgomery will have to do it against a lineup that isn’t very familiar with him, as the current roster of Oakland hitters has a combined 11 plate appearances against him in their careers. That said, I’m sure all on-field participants today are aware of some scouting information regarding small battles that may go a long way toward determining who’ll win the war. Montgomery has thrown a first-pitch strike to 66.8 percent of the batters he’s faced this season, which is not only his career-high by a wide margin but is fifth highest among AL pitchers this season. Conversely, Oakland as a team swings at fewer first pitches than any other in the AL. It’ll be interesting to see if Oakland, knowing what we know, changes their M.O. a little and looks to jump Montgomery early in the count.
Sean Manaea will be taking the mound for the AL West leaders. The 6’ 5” lefty is in the middle of another good season for Oakland, as he currently ranks fourth in the AL in both ERA+ and FIP. Manaea’s success so far in 2021 is predominantly based on his proclivity to keep the ball in the park and to avoid issuing free passes to opposing batters. He’s only allowed a long ball to 2.4 percent of the batters he’s faced, well below the league average of 3.3 percent, and he comes in at the 87th percentile in walk percentage. In case you’re curious if his low home run rate is due to pitching most of his innings in the cavernous Oakland Colesium, it is not – his home run percentage has actually been lower on the road than at home in 2021.
Manaea will be facing a Yankee lineup that has averaged over 5 runs per game in its last 10, but still ranks 13th in the AL in runs per game for the season. Facing a pitcher who throws a sinker more than half the time and is good at keeping the ball in the park is a difficult matchup for the Yankees – they are still tied for the league lead in grounding into double plays and despite hitting two home runs in each of their last three games, are still only a tick above league average at reaching the seats. The “They rely too much on the home run; they need to put more runners in motion!” crowd may be a vocal one tonight and tomorrow.
With the lefty Manaea on the hill, Brett Gardner and Rougned Odor get the day off, resulting in what is likely the Yankees' best lineup, with Clint Frazier and Chris Gittens in their respective places. The hot-hitting Gary Sánchez gets another start in the three spot in a lineup of exclusively right-handed batters.
How to watch:
Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY, NY.
First pitch: 1:05 pm, EDT.
TV Broadcast: WPIX, NBCSCA, MLBN & TBS (both out-of-market only)
Radio Broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280
Online Stream: MLB.tv