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New York Yankees vs. Oakland Athletics: Néstor Cortes Jr. vs. Frankie Montas

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The Yankees will take the field on the bright side of the bay this afternoon, looking for their 14th consecutive win.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are on pace for 96 wins, Gerrit Cole has been blowing away AL hitters, and Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Luke Voit are driving two irons into the seats on a consistent basis. With the calendar on the verge of flipping to September, the Yankees season is right where it was supposed to be all along. The rollercoaster ride to get to this point certainly isn’t how GM Brian Cashman drew it up, but nevertheless, the Yankees now hold a 94.5% chance to make the postseason according to Baseball-Reference, which would have shocked all of us if we were told that on July 4th.

In other news (in case you’re joining us late) the Bombers have won 13 games in a row. They’ll take the field this afternoon in Oakland looking for consecutive win number 14, a feat no Yankee team has accomplished since 1941.

The Yankees will send Néstor Cortes Jr. to the mound, and there haven’t been many bigger surprises this season for the Yankees than Cortes. In fact, you probably could have gotten better pre-season odds on a 13-game winning streak than on Cortes having more WAR than DJ LeMahieu on August 28th. Cortes doesn’t throw hard, doesn’t have a high whiff rate, and doesn’t get many batters to chase pitches out of the zone. None of it seems to matter, as he’s been absolutely masterful at avoiding hard contact: He currently ranks in MLB’s 94th percentile in xwOBA, 92nd percentile in xSLG, 90th percentile in xBA and 74th percentile in hard-hit percentage.

Cortes will be facing an Oakland lineup that’s been struggling of late, as the Athletics have only scored 34 runs over their last 12 games. Oakland’s recent power outage has been a big part of their recent fall in the standings: Two weeks ago today they had the third-best record in the AL, were only 2.5 games out of first in the AL West, and were in firm grasp of the first Wild Card spot. Today, they’re on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, 3.5 games behind Boston for the second Wild Card spot.

The Athletics will send hard-throwing righty Frankie Montas to the mound today to try to right their ship. Montas will be making his 26th start of the season and it’s been a good one for him, as he’s logged 143 innings with better than AL average ERA+, FIP, and K%-BB% figures. His repertoire is split relatively evenly between a sinker, four-seamer, splitter, and slider. His hard stuff has a proclivity for finding the center of the zone which would explain his 17th percentile ranking in hard-hit percentage and 22nd percentile ranking in average exit velocity. Conversely, his splitters and sliders tend to be down and often out of the zone, perhaps explaining his 85th percentile ranking in chase rate.

Montas certainly has his work cut out for him today. Since I wrote about how awful the Yankees’ offense was back on August 12th, the Yankees have scored 5.93 runs per game (you’re welcome for that Yankee fans!), Gary Sánchez is back in the lineup after getting the night off last night, and Rougned Odor will be manning the hot corner as Gio Urshela gets the afternoon off.

How to watch

Location: RingCentral Coliseum — Oakland, CA

First pitch: 4:07 p.m. ET

TV broadcast: WPIX, NBCS-CA

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280

Online stream: MLB.tv

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