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New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox: Series Preview

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The Bombers welcome their rivals to The Bronx in a series that could make or break playoff chances.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

The Yankees are on quite a roll. They have won 10 of their last 11 series (not including yesterday’s makeup game against the Angels), going 23-11 over that span. It has been a nerve-wracking ride, with bullpen meltdowns, late comebacks, and an ever-growing injured contingent. They’ve overcome every obstacle thrown at them and hope to carry their hot streak into a pivotal series against the Red Sox.

Tuesday (game one): Jordan Montgomery vs. Tanner Houck, 1:05 PM ET

Jordan Montgomery is set to return from the COVID-IL after missing the last two weeks. The positive COVID test came at the worst possible time for the Yankees’ lefty, as he was amidst a dominant three-start stretch in which he had surrendered only one run in 15.2 innings. It’s no stretch to say Montgomery has become one of the better starting pitchers in baseball. Among AL starters with at least 100 IP, Montgomery ranks 13th in ERA (3.69), 11th in FIP (3.50), and seventh in fWAR (2.7). As he makes his 22nd start, he is 4-5 with 115 strikeouts in 114.2 innings.

One of Boston’s top pitching prospects, Tanner Houck is already being touted as the next Chris Sale. This is largely in part thanks to the ridiculous movement on his pitches. He is second in MLB in vertical movement on the sinker and 21st in horizontal movement on the slider as functions of velocity. He has dominated the Yankees in limited action this season — two outings (one start) giving up one unearned run on three hits and three walks to go along with 11 strikeouts in 7.2 innings. In eight appearances (six starts), Houck is 0-3 with a 2.93 ERA, 1.84 FIP, and 44 strikeouts in 30.2 innings.

Tuesday (game two): Luis Gil vs. Nathan Eovaldi, 7:05 PM ET

Luis Gil gets his first taste of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry as he’s set to make his third start. They Yankees rookie has exceeded all expectations through his first two starts, considering he was not expected to make his debut this season. His fastball already has the characteristics of a dominant big league heater, and the secondary pitches will only improve with more reps. Gil has yet to allow a run in 11 innings, striking out 14 against only three walks.

Nathan Eovaldi has absolutely owned the Yankees this season. In four starts, he has given up only six runs (five earned) in 26.1 innings while walking only one batter against 28 strikeouts — good for a 1.71 ERA and 2.38 FIP. On the year, Eovaldi is 10-7 in 23 starts, with a 3.92 ERA, 2.77 FIP, and 134 strikeouts in 133 innings.

Wednesday: Andrew Heaney vs. Nick Pivetta, 7:05 PM ET

For reasons beyond my comprehension, Andrew Heaney is scheduled to make another start for the Yankees. It’s perplexing to say the least that they are continuing to hand him the ball considering his brutal outings in pinstripes, but if anything, they are in a bit of bind for starting pitchers at the moment. Since arriving in The Bronx, Heaney has been one of the worst pitchers in MLB. His ERA (9.00) is tied for third-worst while his FIP (9.11) and home runs per nine (4.80) are worst in baseball. Between the Yankees and Angels, Heaney is 7-8 in 21 starts, with a 5.78 ERA, 4.77 FIP, and 131 strikeouts in 109 innings.

Nick Pivetta gets the nod for his 24th start of the season. Pivetta is finally fulfilling his former top prospect status since arriving in Boston from the Phillies. He has regained the velocity on his fastball from his breakout 2018 campaign, while the slider and curveball are legitimate strikeout weapons. Pivetta has only faced the Yankees once in his career, a two inning relief outing with the Phillies in 2020 in which he surrendered two runs in two innings. So far this year, he is 9-5 with a 4.20 ERA, 4.18 FIP, and 139 strikeouts in 124.1 innings.