Fresh off a rest day, New York rolls into Oakland to try and continue this amazing stretch of Yankee baseball. Their winning streak stands at 11 games, the Bombers are in sole possession of the first Wild-Card slot, and the idle division-leading Rays are now solidly in their sights. Even if they don’t sweep, another series win here keeps the momentum moving forward and actively damages the A’s playoff hopes.
The man tasked with taking the hill in game one is Jameson Taillon. Jamo has been on his own extended stretch of excellence, one that predates the club’s. Since throwing a clunker against the Angels on June 29th, Taillon has put together a string of nine consecutive starts wherein he has allowed no more than three runs in any of them. For the season, the first-year Yankee acquisition has pitched to a 3.94 ERA in 123.1 innings. Those numbers are even more impressive considering where Taillon’s stat line stood after that start against the Angels. He ended that game with a 5.43 ERA and a 1.81 HR/9 and has been dealing ever since.
For the Athletics, former Yankees first-round pick and top prospect James Kaprielian will try to cool off New York. Sent to Oakland in the ill-fated Sonny Gray deal, Kaprielian has finally stayed healthy and is in the middle of a breakout season in 2021. The still-young right-hander has thrown 88.2 innings for the A’s thus far to the tune of a 3.25 ERA. Some of his underlying numbers — Average Exit Velocity (28th percentile) and Hard Hit Percentage (34th), for example — suggest there is a certain amount of luck at play, but Kaprielian has had a solid season nonetheless.
The month of August has been kind to a couple of the Yankees big bois. OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton (it really feels good to type that) has bashed the ball all month, to the tune of a 1.034 OPS and a wRC+ of 182. One possible explanation for his success? A reduction in his strikeouts. Stanton has struck out in 20.5 percent of his August at-bats, seven points below his season rate.
Meanwhile, Aaron Judge is quietly putting together a fringe MVP-type season. Judge has also obliterated baseballs this month, with a .961 OPS and a 158 wRC+. For the year, his 4.0 fWAR and 4.4 bWAR are nothing to sneeze at. If he stays hot while the Yankees make their playoff push, he will definitely deserve some consideration.
Finally, the Yankees welcome third baseman Gio Urshela back to the lineup tonight. One day at a time, New York gets closer to putting its Death Star lineup on the field.
Stay hot, Yankees. Start this West Coast trip on the right foot. Beat Oakland tonight and keep putting Major League Baseball on notice that the New York Yankees are the team that no one wants to play.
How to watch
Location: Oakland Coliseum – Oakland, CA
First pitch: 9:40 pm ET
TV broadcast: YES, NBCSCA, MLBN (out-of-market only)
Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280
Online stream: MLB.tv