With the exception of Aaron Judge’s quest for a 62nd home run, coming into this weekend, there’s not really anything for the Yankees to play for other than just getting all their ducks in a row going into the playoffs. The AL East has been locked up, and so has a first-round bye in the new playoff format. Theoretically, they could still catch Houston for the No. 1 overall seed in the American League, but those odds are so minuscule that it’s not really worth thinking about.
Other than Judge, the last two series of the season are all about the Yankees figuring out who’s healthy or not, and who should round out the playoff roster. (Erin will have more on this topic later today.) That starts this weekend when they take on the Orioles.
It’s an extreme long shot at this point, but Baltimore still has something to play for, as they are not fully eliminated just yet. With six games remaining in their season though, they are five games back of the Rays for the last playoff spot (Seattle slid in front of Tampa Bay by half a game). Since the Rays hold the tiebreaker advantage, the Orioles’ elimination number is just one, so they could very well be toast tonight, even if they win.
With Baltimore fighting to keep their season relevant for as long as possible, let’s take a look at the pitching matchups we’ll see this weekend.
Friday: Domingo Germán vs. Jordan Lyles (7:05 PM ET)
Although the four starters who the Yankees are rolling with in the playoffs seem set (barring injuries), Germán is presumably looking to keep his name in the mix with a good outing. After a couple short appearances, he returned to the full rotation after Frankie Montas’ injury in a start last Saturday against the Red Sox. It wasn’t Germán’s sharpest outing of the season, as he allowed three runs, including two home runs, in five innings.
Lyles hasn’t had a great year on the whole, but his games against the Yankees have been up-and-down. On one hand, there was April 15th, when he held them to one run in 5.1 innings. On the other hand, the Yankees got him 11 days later for 6 runs. In this start, he’s technically going to be coming back on short rest. The Orioles are bringing him back a bit early after his start on Monday was limited to two innings because of a rain delay. In Judge news, his career numbers against him are 5-for-14 with a pair of home runs.
Saturday: Nestor Cortes vs. Austin Voth (1:05 PM ET)
Nestor mostly continued to be Nestor in his most recent start, which technically went down as a complete-game shutout. Rain wiped out the last couple innings of his start against Boston last Sunday, after he had allowed just one hit in six innings. He’s only faced the Orioles twice so far this year, but both outings have been some of his best work, as he’s struck out a combined 19 in 11 scoreless innings against them.
Voth has been extremely impressive for the Orioles after they picked him up off waivers from the Nationals back in June. Since going over to Baltimore, he has a 2.77 ERA and a 3.60 FIP in 78 innings. Since he began makings starts for the O’s, those numbers are a 2.65 ERA and a 3.49 FIP. He has yet to face the Yankees since joining the Orioles, but his most recent appearance against them came on May 9, 2021 with Washington, when he threw two scoreless innings out of the bullpen. As far as the Judge matchup goes, he’s never faced Voth.
Sunday: Luis Severino vs. Kyle Bradish (1:35 PM ET)
This will be Severino’s third start since coming off the injured list, so the Yankees will likely be aiming higher than the 76 pitches he threw against the Blue Jays on Monday. His defense let him down a bit in that outing, leading to those 76 pitches only lasting 4 innings. Severino allowed just three hits, but he also walked three batters while allowing two earned runs.
On the whole, Bradish’s numbers from his rookie season are nothing to write home about, but he did have a very impressive outing recently. On September 22nd, he was one out away from a complete game shutout against the Astros, but ended up with an 8.2-inning outing where he allowed just 2 hits and struck out 10. The follow-up to that game saw him get knocked out after 2.1 innings and seven runs, but the performance against Houston does show some potential. If we’re still looking for No. 62 by Sunday, it’ll be a new matchup, as Judge has never faced Bradish.