Another day game, another sluggish performance. The Yankees just cannot seem to shake off their malaise in both day games and sweep-clinching finales, as they sleepwalked their way to a 2-0 shutout at home in the final game of the Mariners series. Still, winning five of seven on the homestand is an accomplishment. Let’s hope the more lively Yankees club of the first few games in that Mariners series shows up in Kauffman as the Yankees fly to Kansas City for a three-game set against the Royals.
Monday: Jameson Taillon vs. Carlos Hernández, 8:10 PM ET
Jameson Taillon is currently in the midst of one of the most successful stretches of his career. Dating back to his June 18th start against Oakland, he is 6-0 with the second-best ERA (2.35) in the American League. Taillon has made a conscious effort to vary his pitch repertoire, gaining confidence to mix in each of his five offerings. The curveball in particular has turned a corner, giving him a second legitimate strikeout weapon alongside the four-seamer. He struck out a season-high 10 batters last time out against the Orioles including four on the curve. In 21 starts, Taillon is 7-4 with a 4.04 ERA, 4.25 FIP, and 108 strikeouts in 107 innings.
Taillon will battle rookie Carlos Hernández. Hernández is one of the hardest throwers in baseball. His average fastball velocity of 97.6 mph is the 17th-highest in the game, and his 29 pitches of 100 mph or more places him 10th — one spot ahead of Gerrit Cole — on the list of pitchers with the most triple-digit pitches this year. With this blazing velocity comes the sacrifice of command, evidenced by his sixth-percentile walk rate of 14 percent. In 16 games (four starts), Hernández is 3-1 with a 4.58 ERA, 4.03 FIP, and 48 strikeouts in 39.1 innings.
Tuesday: Nestor Cortes vs. Daniel Lynch, 8:10 PM ET
Nestor Cortes continues his improbable stretch as one of the most effective starting pitchers in MLB. In four starts, he owns a 2.00 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .190 average. He sits in the 90th percentile or better in xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, xERA, and Barrel rate, all while throwing a fastball that barely exceeds 90 mph. In 12 total appearances, Cortes owns a 2.15 ERA, 2.79 FIP, and 41 strikeouts in 37.2 innings.
Cortes will also come up against a rookie Royals pitcher, this time being Daniel Lynch. Lynch is the second-ranked Royals prospect per MLB Pipeline, with scouts praising his above-average fastball, slider, and control. 2021 has been a work-in-progress for the 24-year-old lefty, however with more seasoning he looks like he could be a mainstay in the Royals rotation for years to come. In six starts, Lynch is 2-3 with a 6.00 ERA, 4.24 FIP, and 20 strikeouts in 27 innings.
Wednesday: TBA vs. Brady Singer
The Yankees have yet to announce a starter for the series finale, with the rotation still in limbo as they await news on Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery after the pair tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Neither will have hit the requisite 10 days to be eligible for this game, so the Yankees will have to turn elsewhere. An outside possibility could see Deivi García make his first big league start since May 29th, however, considering his 7.02 ERA and 15.2 percent walk rate in Triple-A this year — and the fact he’s completely screwed up his delivery — that might not be the best option. More likely, Wednesday will be a bullpen day with the best case scenario being something akin to the collective effort win against the Mariners last Friday.
Whatever option the Yankees choose, they will face righty Brady Singer. The sophomore pitcher is expected to return to the big league rotation after missing three weeks with right shoulder fatigue. Singer only uses two pitches — throwing the sinker-slider combo about 95 percent of the time — but is still elite at limiting hard contact (89th percentile barrel rate). He faced the Yankees on June 22nd, giving up two runs on five hits and five walks in 3.2 innings. In 19 starts, he is 3-7 with a 5.13 ERA, 3.83 FIP, and 92 strikeouts in 87.2 innings.