The Yankees will be taking on the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park once again this afternoon, looking for a win to keep themselves in the hunt for the AL East crown, or more realistically at this point, an AL Wild Card berth. Given that the Yankees are nine games behind the rebuilding Red Sox, and actually a game in the loss column behind fourth-place Toronto as well, I think Baseball-Reference giving the Yankees an 11% chance to make the postseason is a bit optimistic. Yet, if there’s anything that’s been consistent this season, it’s that the Yankees have been very inconsistent – which means they’re due for an upswing after two straight, very un-aesthetically pleasing losses to the Sox.
Jameson Taillon will be taking the mound for the Yankees today, looking to right the pinstriped ship. Taillon is coming off three straight good starts (one of them his last start on July 18th vs Boston) in which he’s thrown a combined 18.1 innings while allowing only 11 hits and three earned runs over that stretch. Perhaps most importantly, he’s overcome his early-season struggles of getting past the fifth inning: Averaging over 6 innings per start in his last three while also averaging 92 pitches per game over that stretch (his highest for a three-game stretch this season) is a positive sign, both short and long term.
Taillon will be facing a Red Sox lineup, which (spoiler alert) can hit. Boston has seven regulars with an OPS+ of better than 100, with three of them (J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts) better than 140 OPS+. Yet if there is an area to exploit, it’s that the Red Sox are not the types to stand in the box with bats on their shoulders: They rank second in MLB in swing percentage, fifth in the AL in first-pitch swing percentage, and they have the highest chase rate in MLB. Taillon is better than league average at getting batters to leave the zone, so that may be an interesting chess match to keep an eye on today.
Taillon’s counterpart for Boston today will be the 2021 All-Star and former Yankee, Nathan Eovaldi. There aren’t any secrets between the Yankees and Eovaldi: he throws hard, doesn’t give many free passes and he’s elite at keeping the ball in the park. Additionally, the AL leader in FIP has also been very good against the Yankees of late, with 20 Ks against only one walk in his last 18.2 innings against the Bombers.
If there’s a silver lining for the Yankees, it’s that (despite their performance against Eovaldi so far this season) they’ve fared significantly better against power pitchers than finesse pitchers, and better versus groundball pitchers than fly ball pitchers in 2021. That said, Giancarlo Stanton is the only Yankee available today who’s had even a modicum of success against Eovaldi, posting a .318/.333/.409 slash line against him.
In addition to Stanton, the Yankees will be looking to continue to get a boost from their Scranton connections, with four recent RailRiders in the lineup again today.
How to watch:
Location: Fenway Park, Boston, MA
First pitch: 4:05 pm, EDT.
TV Broadcast: FS1, YES, NESN
Radio Broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280, WEEI, WCCM
Online Stream: MLB.tv