I’m just going to attribute the Yankees’ listless performance in yesterday’s doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Astros to hangover from the All-Star break. They will look to get the second-half on track with a three-game set in Camden. That being said, this now-.500 Orioles team is no pushover, with an 11-2 record over their last 13 that included sweeps of the Rangers, Angels, and Cubs. Let’s see which starting pitchers each team will throw out.
Friday: Jameson Taillon vs. Tyler Wells, 7:05 P.M. EDT
Jameson Taillon gets the ball hoping to feed off the momentum of his last start before the break. After starting the season so strong — ten starts giving up three or fewer runs while averaging almost six innings per start — Taillon hit a six-game road bump that saw him pitch to a 6.81 ERA from June 7th to July 10th. That’s why his last outing against the Red Sox — one run on two hits in six innings — was such an encouraging sign. In 18 starts, Taillon is 10-2 with a 3.86 ERA (99 ERA+), 3.77 FIP, and 82 strikeouts in 100.1 innings.
Taillon will face the imposing Baltimore righty Tyler Wells. He has built on his rookie year with an impressive sophomore campaign and has held the Yankees in check, limiting them to four runs across three starts against them this season. Wells throws a four-seamer in the mid-90s and throws his three secondary pitches — slider, changeup, and curveball — each at least 13 percent of the time making him a true four-pitch pitcher. In 18 starts, Wells sits at 7-5 with a 3.38 ERA (119 ERA+), 4.06 FIP, and 59 strikeouts in 85.1 innings.
Saturday: Gerrit Cole vs. Jordan Lyles, 7:05 P.M. EDT
Gerrit Cole seems to be really hitting his stride of late, tallying back-to-back seven-inning, double-digit strikeout performances against the Reds and Red Sox. His fastball has rounded into shape as the season progressed and is looking as good as we’ve seen from his Yankees tenure in terms of velocity, movement, and command. And while the cutter was a weapon for him early in the year, a spate of home runs against the pitch have caused Cole to scrap it entirely in recent starts, and the results have followed. In 19 starts, Cole is 9-2 with a 3.02 ERA (126 ERA+), 3.29 FIP, and 147 strikeouts in 113.1 innings.
Jordan Lyles will make his fifth start of the season against the Yankees and has inexplicably held down the lineup in three of the prior four meetings, surrendering three or few earned runs despite giving up the most hits in the American League to this point. That said, this year actually represents a decent bounce-back campaign for the righty after placing among the worst qualified starters in baseball last season. He certainly doesn’t throw hard but manages to keep hitters off balance, featuring a heavy diet of sliders to righties and changeups to lefties. In 19 starts, Lyles is 6-8 with a 4.76 ERA (84 ERA+), 4.35 FIP, and 91 strikeouts in 107.2 innings.
Sunday: Nestor Cortes vs. Dean Kremer, 1:35 P.M. EDT
Like Cole and Taillon, Cortes flashed some of his best stuff of the year in his final start before the break — seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball against the Reds. His fastball velocity has actually ticked up as the year’s gone on, which leads me to wonder if he’s focusing more on throwing it max effort than necessarily locating it on the corners — something that led to him giving up a flurry of home runs in his month-long down stretch. Whatever the case may be, it was good to see him find his footing against Cincinnati, and he will hope to do the same in the final game against the Orioles. In 17 starts, Cortes is 7-3 with a 2.63 ERA (145 ERA+), 3.56 FIP, and 99 strikeouts in 95.2 innings.
Cortes will face the righty Dean Kremer in the series finale. In theory, this should be a dream matchup for the Yankees, as Kremer gives up some of the most damage-inducing quality of contact of any pitcher in baseball. That’s why it’s so hard to wrap one’s head around his impressive run-prevention stats. This is his first time facing the Yankees this season after missing the first two months with an oblique injury. I’m sure they’ll be happy to see him, as he has given up 13 runs including five home runs in five career starts totaling a 5.01 ERA against the Bombers. He has a four-seamer in the mid-90s, a cutter as his main putaway pitch, and a changeup and curveball that he mostly reserves for lefties. In eight starts, Kremer is 3-1 with a 2.59 ERA (155 ERA+), 3.59 FIP, and 32 strikeouts in 42.1 innings.