Aaron Judge didn’t get past Babe Ruth last night, which means, perhaps fittingly, that his best chance for 61 and 62 at home will come in this four-game set against the Red Sox — the same historic rival that Roger Maris torched for his record-breaking 61st homer of 1961. Judge will be the main character for all four contests, but let’s take a look at the pitching matchups too.
Thursday: Jameson Taillon vs. Michael Wacha (7:15pm Eastern)
In the first of three games not on YES this series, Taillon will look to continue his run of perfectly average pitching this season. He did lay an egg in his last outing, allowing four runs in five innings against the Brewers, but overall on the season has controlled the strike zone, and if he can avoid home runs, he should give you a solid, if unspectacular, outing.
Michael Wacha has been quite good for the Red Sox, because of course. His 2.61 ERA in 114 innings jumps off the page, and even though he’s been considerably worse by FIP or xERA, its not like he’s been the luckiest guy in the world. He’s seen a three-year decline in his strikeouts, but like Taillon, has traded that for better command in the zone, fewer walks and home runs. That last part is the key difference between their seasons — Taillon’s let the ball out of the park more. Wacha’s only start against the Yankees this year was a seven-inning shutout affair, so hopefully the club’s learned something.
Friday: Gerrit Cole vs. Rich Hill (7:05pm Eastern)
It’s always a bit of a guessing game when Gerrit Cole takes the hill this year. When he’s on, he’ll be as good as it gets in baseball, or he’ll give up four home runs and stare into the middle distance for a bit. The game is on Apple TV+, so if his start is the latter, many of you may not be able to see it.
He’s made four starts against the Red Sox this year, owning an unsightly 5.48 ERA. At the Stadium, that’s slightly lower at 4.09, but that is counting Opening Day when we knew he wasn’t going deep. His last outing against Boston, in the Bronx, he threw seven innings of two-run ball with 12 Ks, so a repeat performance would be more than acceptable.
Rich Hill has kinda stunk this year, as the sun may be setting on the 42-year-old’s improbable baseball career. His 4.70 ERA is the worst he’s posted since a 38-inning 2013 season, and he’s a prime candidate, in my opinion, for Aaron Judge to continue his history-making season off of.
Saturday: Nick Pivetta vs. Domingo Germán (1:05pm Eastern)
In the only game of the series on YES, Germán will try to keep this impressive run he’s been on since early-August going. His 3.12 ERA drops down to 2.34 since August 1, and although he’s not particularly strong at missing bats, his 3.71 FIP in that same span will play for a guy meant to be rotation depth. He’s made one start against Boston, in Fenway, throwing six innings and allowing a single run.
Pivetta’s struggled this season, walking entirely too many batters, a consistent issue with him over his career. He’ll put men on base on his own, so the focus against him has to be driving the balls he does put in the zone for extra bases, and cashing some of those men in for big innings.
Sunday: Brayan Bello vs. Nestor Cortes (7:00 pm Eastern)
Yes, one final ESPN Yankees-Sawx game for the year. Bello’s making his second start against the Yankees in his rookie campaign, and actually did alright for himself the first time, keeping Judge in the park and allowing three unearned runs, all on Gleyber Torres’ Little League home run:
In fact, the starting pitching matchup is the exact same as that September 14th showdown, with Nestor Cortes going for the Yankees on Sunday night. He’s been on a roll the last month, making four starts with a 2.25 ERA and 2.71 FIP across 20 innings, including five innings allowing one run in that 9/14 start at Boston.