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New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Guardians: Series Preview

The Yankees return home looking for some wins in a weekend series against Cleveland.

MLB: APR 21 White Sox at Guardians Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Yankees’ continued their extremely “eh” start to the season earlier this week in Detroit. While they took two of three against the Tigers, none of them featured a true great performance from the offense, and they got shutout in the finale.

With that over, they’re returning home to the theoretically friendly confines of Yankee Stadium for a three-game set against the Cleveland Guardians this weekend. The Guardians come into this series half a game better than the Yankees at 7-5, having just swept a series against the White Sox.

While Cleveland’s going through some injury issues and the Yankees will miss the likes of Shane Bieber, it’s still going to be a tough task, considering how they’ve played of late. Before everything gets going tonight, let’s take a look at the pitching matchups we’ll see this weekend.

Friday: Jameson Taillon vs. Eli Morgan (7:05 PM ET)

Taillon’s been about league average in his two starts in the young season. His start of the season could’ve been even better had he not run into trouble in the fifth inning last time out against the Orioles, getting knocked out of that game after just 4.2 innings. He’s made just two career starts against Cleveland so far, putting up some semi-puzzling results. While he’s held Guardians’ hitters to just a .675 OPS in those two games, Cleveland’s got him for 4.91 ERA in 11 innings.

The Guardians’ have been dealing with some COVID issues early this season, leading them to have to mess around with their rotation and give Morgan his first start of 2022. His appearances so far this year have all come out of the bullpen, where he’s allowed three runs on five hits in six innings. Last year, Morgan started 18 games and put up mixed results, but did throw six innings of one-run ball against the Yankees in September.

Saturday: Nestor Cortes vs. Kirk McCarty (1:05 PM ET)

Cortes was one of the most pleasant Yankees’ surprises in years in 2021 and has continued that in first two starts of this season. Last Sunday against the Orioles was arguably the best performance of his career as he struck out 12 batters in five innings, including three in an immaculate inning. Who knows how long the “Nestor Cortes True Ace(TM)” run can last, but it’s been a fun one.

McCarty is another rotation adjustment for Cleveland, and he’ll be making his MLB debut on Saturday. In 24 starts last season in Triple-A, he put up a 5.01 ERA while giving up 25 home runs in 124 innings. However, the 2017 seventh round draft pick has been pretty solid so far this year, allowing just one run in 11.1 innings, coming on the back of a solid performance in spring training. There’s been plenty of consternation over the years about the Yankees struggling against pitchers in their MLB debut, so we’ll get to test that theory again this weekend.

Sunday: Gerrit Cole vs. Aaron Civale (1:35 PM ET)

So far in 2022, Cole has not been what you’d expect or hope of an ace. He comes into this series with an ERA over six, and was especially troubling in his last start. After walking five, he was lifted after 1.2 innings against the Tigers, the shortest outing of his career. Three starts is hardly a big sample size, but if he doesn’t come up with a good one soon, the murmurs from the Yankee universe are only going to get louder.

Civale’s also been hit around so far this year, allowing five earned runs (but eight in total) in 7.1 innings across two starts. However, he’s generally been better than that over his career so far, including three good starts against the Yankees. He’s put up a 2.08 ERA in 17.1 innings against the Yankees, including six shutout innings last September.