Today is a reason to celebrate for many of us: July 4, 2021 marks the day that the United States declared its independence 245 years ago, and it also marks the day the Yankees kick off the second half of their 2021 season schedule.
On the off-chance you need to be caught up on such matters, the most valuable franchise in baseball (by far) with the payroll just north of $200 million and who was the pre-season favorite to win the AL pennant, currently sports a 41-40 record. That’s good enough for fourth place in the AL East, 9.5 games behind the arch-enemy Red Sox, who are supposedly in a rebuilding year. Furthermore, the crosstown rival Mets – who, like the Red Sox, are also in first place – twisted the dagger in the Yankees’ first half-season yesterday with a beating that was humiliating to anyone rooting for the pinstripes.
Yet, from the glass-half-full department, it’s baseball so there’s always reason for optimism. There’s still a half of a season to play, and Gerrit Cole will be on the mound today. Plus, we’re all going to be complaining about how we miss baseball when the season’s over, so let’s enjoy it.
Although Cole is coming off a poor outing in Boston last Sunday, and there’s been much discussion about the recent changes in his performance (rightfully so), he’s still been very good. In his previous three starts prior to the Boston game, he threw a combined 21 innings, allowing only 6 runs with a K/BB ratio of 19/4.
Cole will be facing a Mets offense that bled the Yankees to death by 1,000 paper cuts yesterday, putting eight runs on the board with only one extra-base hit. (Turns out 13 singles and 5 walks add up…) On the whole, the Mets’ offense has been down much more than up this season, ranking at or near the bottom in virtually every meaningful offensive category. Something to watch for today will be their aggression, or lack of plate discipline depending on which way you look at it: The Mets are dead last in the National League in walks and have the third-highest chase rate. In Cole, they’ll be facing a pitcher who ranks in the 92nd percentile in getting batters to chase.
The Mets will send the local kid from Long Island, Marcus Stroman, to the mound this afternoon. Stroman is coming off a clunker of a start last Sunday against Philadelphia, but he’s been great for the Mets in 2021. Prior to his last start, you have to go back almost two months to find a start in which he registered a game score lower than 50. Although he hasn’t faced the Yankees in just short of two years, he does have some history against them and it hasn’t been good for him. In his previous five starts against the Yankees, Stroman has allowed 20 earned runs over 24.1 innings, with Aaron Judge being a particularly large thorn in his side. In 22 career plate appearances against Stroman, Judge has reached base 12 times and hit 4 home runs. (To be clear, that’s just information, not a prophecy.)
In roster and lineup news, the Yankees reinstated reliever Wandy Peralta from the 10-day injured list and appointed him as their 27th man for today’s doubleheader. For the Yankees, Tim Locastro makes his pinstriped debut in left field, while Brett Gardner (who also has good numbers against Stroman) starts in center field. For the Mets, former Yankee Billy McKinney gets the start in left field.
How to watch:
Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY, NY.
First pitch: 2:05 pm, EDT.
TV Broadcast: WPIX, SNY, MLB Network (out of market)
Radio Broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280
Online Stream: MLB.tv
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