Last week was yet another disappointing one for the Yankees as they try to get into the playoffs. It started well enough after a comeback win over the Twins and then got within an out of sweeping the Orioles. However, they managed to blow the series finale in Baltimore and then dropped two of three to Cleveland, failing to take advantage of what was a fairly winnable week on paper.
Well to start the new week, they have what is again another winnable series, and they’re going to need to take advantage of it.
The Rangers are coming to Yankee Stadium for a series starting tonight. Texas has gone just 24-45 since the start of July and their Baseball Reference WAR leader, Joey Gallo, will be wearing a Yankees uniform in this series. The Yankees also took three of four when these two teams met in Arlington, including a fairly memorable moment with Corey Kluber’s no-hitter.
On paper, this is a set the Yankees need to sweep, but we know how matchups on paper have gone for them of late. Before things get underway tonight, let’s take a look at the matchups we’ll see over the next couple days.
Monday: Néstor Cortes Jr. vs. A.J. Alexy (7:05 pm ET)
Imagine thinking back when the Yankees played the Rangers the first time this season that not only would Cortes be in the rotation, but that he would be a vital part of it. Cortes continued his solid run by striking out a career high 11 hitters against the Orioles last Wednesday. After going through stretches in August where it seemed like he was coming back to earth, Cortes now has a 2.00 ERA in 18 innings in September.
This will be Alexy’s third career major league start and fourth MLB appearance after making his debut back on August 30th. The Rangers acquired him back in 2017 as part of the Yu Darvish trade and after a really impressive year in the minors, he’s broken through to the majors. He threw 11 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits across his first two major league games. However in his most recent outing, he came out of the bullpen and gave up six runs on four hits and four walks in 3.2 innings against the Astros.
Tuesday: Jordan Montgomery vs. Dane Dunning (7:05 pm ET)
Montgomery was very good against the Orioles on Thursday, striking out a career high 12 hitters. However like so many times this season, he was let down by a combination of the lineup and bullpen and took a no decision in an eventual loss. His outing also lasted just 5.2 innings, which has been his main issue of late. In seven games since the start of August, he’s given up just 12 earned runs. It’s just that the longest of those starts was six innings, and three haven’t even lasted five innings.
Last year, Dunning broke through into the majors with the White Sox and was pretty good before being the centerpiece of the Lance Lynn trade and going to Texas. While he’s made two bullpen appearances, this will be his first start since August 20th after missing time on the COVID IL. It’s been an up and down season for him, but a definite up was when he threw six scoreless innings against the Yankees. The Yankees eventually won that game, but they managed just four hits and a walk off Dunning.
Wednesday: Corey Kluber vs. Taylor Hearn (7:05 pm ET)
Bad news is Kluber hasn’t been great since returning from the IL. Better news is, his best start since coming back was Friday against Cleveland, where he threw six scoreless innings. Even better news than that is that his last start against the Rangers was very good. Kluber’s no-hitter came against the Rangers back on May 19th.
Hearn has gone back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen for the Rangers this year, but has firmly been in the rotation for a while now. He’s generally been pretty solid since the start of July, putting up a 2.87 ERA in 53.1 innings from July 2nd to September 12th. However, that cuts off before his most recent outings, where he was hit around for seven runs in 3.1 innings by the White Sox. He appeared out of the bullpen for Texas in the same game as Kluber’s no-hitter, pitching two scoreless frames.