The Yankees enter their first full series of the second half only one game over .500. The six remaining games before the All-Star break will go a long way in setting the tenor for the team as they creep towards the trade deadline. A successful three games against the Mariners could provide some clarity as to whether they will be buyers or sellers, so let’s take a look at the probably starting pitching matchups.
Tuesday: Jameson Taillon vs. Justus Sheffield, 10:10 PM ET
Taillon takes the mound in the first game. He will look to bounce back from his latest clunker, a 5.1 inning outing against the Angels in which he allowed five runs on three homers. His struggles to find a second put away pitch off his four-seamer persist, with batters carrying an expected slugging of .500 or higher in June against each of his curveball, slider, and changeup. For the year, Taillon is 3-4 with a 5.43 ERA, 4.75 FIP, and 73 strikeouts in 69.2 innings.
He will face off against former Yankees top prospect Justus Sheffield. Sheffield, who was traded to the Mariners in 2018 for James Paxton, has regressed significantly from his breakout campaign last season. The lefty sits in the tenth percentile or worse in almost every Statcast pitching metric and possesses neither the raw stuff nor the command to fulfill his former top prospect status. In 14 starts, Sheffield is 5-7 with a 5.88 ERA, 5.42 FIP, and 57 strikeouts in 72 innings.
Wednesday: Domingo Germán vs. Yusei Kikuchi, 10:10 PM ET
Germán goes Wednesday, and he is hoping to recapture the form of his first 11 starts. After such a promising first third of the campaign, regression has hit the 28-year-old righty hard. He has given up 18 runs across his last four outings, striking out three or fewer in three of them while failing to hit the five inning mark in any. His mediocre fastballs limit his effectiveness, with the opposition managing a .571 expected slugging against the hard stuff this year. In 15 starts, Germán is 4-5 with a 4.50 ERA, 4.76 FIP, and 68 strikeouts in 76 innings.
He will face Yusei Kikuchi, who is finally starting to look like the pitcher the Mariners hoped for when they signed him to a four-year deal in 2019. The southpaw was named to his first All-Star team and fastball velocity is up a tick from last year, which has boosted the effectiveness of the rest of his repertoire. The hard-throwing lefty’s ERA has dropped a full two runs from his first two big league seasons, thanks in part to a career-best 16.9 K-BB%. In 15 starts, Kikuchi is 6-3 with a 3.18 ERA, 4.28 FIP, and 93 strikeouts in 93.1 innings.
Thursday: Jordan Montgomery vs. Logan Gilbert, 4:10 PM ET
Montgomery gets the final game of the series. The lanky lefty has been distinctly average for the Yankees, though that alone qualifies him as one of the better starters in the Yankees’ disappointing rotation. He has flashed the potential to dominate any lineup at points this season, so it would be nice if that version showed up Thursday afternoon. As he makes his 17th start, Montgomery sits at 3-3 with a 4.17 ERA, 3.49 FIP, and 86 strikeouts in 86.1 innings.
He gets to take on the Mariners’ top pitching prospect, Logan Gilbert. Gilbert made his big league debut on May 13th — in line with well-publicized admissions from former CEO Kevin Mather that they would manipulate his service time — giving up four runs in four innings with five strikeouts against Cleveland. The 6-foot-6 righty throws a fastball that sits around 95 mph almost 62 percent of the time, paired with a slider as his main secondary pitch. He rarely issues free passes and does possess strikeout stuff when he’s on. In nine starts, Gilbert is 2-2 with a 4.10 ERA, 3.49 FIP, and 45 strikeouts in 41.2 innings.