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New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox: Gerrit Cole vs. Eduardo Rodriguez

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Can Gerrit Cole give the Yankees their first win against the Red Sox in 2021?

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Like the inversion of Gotham’s favored defender, Gerrit Cole isn’t the hero the putrid Yankees offense deserves, but today — after dropping their last five games against the rival Sox — he’s the hero they need. Entering the Sunday afternoon contest with a 2.33 ERA, Cole will need his best stuff to fend off the fourth-most prolific offense in the majors, especially considering that his own has been the eighth-worst.

However, since MLB’s embarrassing crackdown on sticky stuff, Cole’s spin rate on all of his pitches has been way, way down. In fact, according to ESPN Stats & Info, Cole’s four-seam, curveball, and slider spin were all the lowest of any of his starts since 2017. Nonetheless, he managed to make it through seven innings of two-run ball on a semi-efficient 108 pitches.

In Cole’s June starts, the ones after the foreign substance ban re-enforcement started to come to fruition, Cole has posted a meager — by his standards — 3.81 ERA to a 2-2 record. Still, it was his first start that gave him the most trouble, surrendering five runs in five innings before the early hook. In the following three, Cole has allowed a pair of runs in each outing, clearing six, eight, and seven innings, respectively.

Cole’s counterpart, Eduardo Rodriguez, has posted an ERA inflated by bad luck despite a FIP almost two-and-a-half runs better. Still, he’s allowed 16 earned runs in 20 June innings as he’s watched his ERA creep up to 6.07.

Today, the Yankee offense will have to trudge on without its hottest hitter, Gary Sánchez, in lieu of Cole’s preferred backstop, Kyle Higashioka. Higgy has fallen off a cliff after a 1.088 OPS April, recording just two singles and a homer in 17 June at-bats.

Meanwhile, Miggy too, starting in left today, has seen his streaky bat come and go, recording more than half of his June knocks in multi-hit efforts, while also going hitless in six of 17 starts.

Marwin Gonzalez and Christian Vázquez are both in after riding pine last night, which should make lighter work for Cole as neither has proven a particularly dangerous bat this season.

The Yankees have already lost the series, but they can stop the bleeding, now five-and-a-half games back of the Sox for the first Wild Card seed, with a win today.

How to watch

Location: Fenway Park, Boston, MA

First pitch: 1:10 p.m. ET

TV broadcast: YES, NESN/TBS

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280, WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM, WAMG 94.9/890 AM

Online stream: MLB.tv

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