It’s truly astonishing how in a flash the Yankees can go from looking unbeatable during the 13-game winning streak to unintimidating during the current four-game losing streak. Of particular concern is the way that certain bad habits from the mediocre first half have crept back into the team’s play. This manifested itself in last night’s loss to the Angels, as they grounded into five double plays, putting them ignominiously back within striking distance of the league lead in that category. To quote Brett Gardner, losing four straight is “just unacceptable,” so expect a strong showing in the final game of the West Coast road trip tonight as they look to end the slide.
The Angels were one of the frontrunners to land Gerrit Cole in his free agency, and now they will have to face the Yankees’ ace as he tries to prevent a sweep tonight. Cole currently leads the pack in the AL Cy Young race, sitting atop the AL starting pitching leaderboard in FIP, K-BB%, and fWAR, among many other metrics. As he makes his 25th start, Cole is 13-6 with a 2.80 ERA, 2.71 FIP, and 200 strikeouts in 148 innings.
Packy Naughton will make his first big league start tonight. He is a top-30 prospect in the Angels system after being acquired from the Reds in the Brian Goodwin deadline deal last season. The soft-tossing lefty throws a four-seamer, changeup, slider, and sinker. His fastball tops out at 93, but will generally sit in the 90-91 range. He doesn’t strike out many guys and issues his fair share of free passes. What he will do, however, is induce a ton of weak contact. In two relief appearances totaling 5.1 innings this season, Naughton has given up three runs (one earned) on five hits and three walks.
The Yankees made three changes to the lineup from last night. Luke Voit replaces Giancarlo Stanton at DH, as the big guy rests for the first time in a few weeks, while Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher Kyle Higashioka gives Gary Sánchez the night off. Gio Urshela is not in the lineup today as he awaits an MRI after hurting his hand/wrist in last night’s loss, so Rougned Odor gets the nod at third.
Meanwhile, the Angels only make one change to the lineup that put six runs on the board last night. Justin Upton replaces Juan Lagares in the outfield, which is a bit puzzling after the latter’s three-hit, two-RBI game on Monday. Presumptive AL MVP Shohei Ohtani vs AL Cy Young favorite Gerrit Cole? That’s what I call must-see TV!
How to watch
Location: Angel Stadium — Anaheim, CA
First pitch: 7:07 p.m. ET
TV broadcast: YES, Bally Sports West, MLBN (out-of-market only)
Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280
Online stream: MLB.tv