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New York Yankees vs. Oakland Athletics: Nestor Cortes vs. JP Sears

The series opener features a battle of the southpaws in the Bronx.

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

When the Yankees’ regular season schedule was revealed, I think everyone expected the A’s to be in last place when their trip to the Bronx rolled around. However, I don’t expect many thought the Yankees would be right there with them. A combination of injuries and poor play have consigned them to this position, but encouragingly they are coming off their best baseball in weeks despite having narrowly dropped a series to the Rays, and hopefully they can build more positive momentum starting tonight (and with Aaron Judge due back tomorrow).

Nestor Cortes gets the ball looking to bounce back from a pair of consecutive poor starts. The Rangers launched three homers and seven total runs against him last time out as his command of fastball and cutter was particularly blunt. He currently sports an outrageous 64.8 percent fly-ball rate that needs to come down if he is to return to the effectiveness we’ve come to expect. In six starts, Cortes is 3-2 with a 4.91 ERA (88 ERA+), 4.70 FIP, and 35 strikeouts in 33 innings.

Old friend JP Sears returns to the Bronx for the first time since his deadline day trade to Oakland as part of a package for Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino. He faced them once after swapping cities, surrendering three runs on eight hits and four walks in six innings. The Yankees hitters should key in on his changeup — he uses it exclusively against righties, who have slugged it to the tune of a .722 SLG and .566 xwOBA. Entering tonight, Sears is 0-2 in six starts, with a 5.06 ERA (82 ERA+), 5.11 FIP, and 34 strikeouts in 32 innings.

The Yankees make three changes to the lineup that tagged the Rays staff for seven runs in the series finale. Isiah Kiner-Falefa is at third with DJ LeMahieu to DH and Willie Calhoun on the bench. Oswaldo Cabrera replaces Jake Bauers in right field and Jose Trevino takes over for Kyle Higashioka behind the plate.

The A’s send out one of the few lineups that can challenge the Yankees for the title of worst in baseball, their collective .685 OPS a point higher than that of the Bombers. That being said, there are still a few hitters who can certainly hurt the Yankees. Esteury Ruiz is one of the exciting young talents in baseball, adding his name to the AL Rookie of the Year conversation with his 16 stolen bases and Gold Glove-caliber defense in center. Brent Rooker owns the highest wRC+ (207) of any qualified hitter and is second in the AL with ten home runs. Still, the Yankees will take heart that two of the A’s biggest producers are on the bench. JJ Bleday leads the team with a 233 wRC+ in nine games while Ryan Noda is third among MLB rookies with a 153 wRC+, however both get the night off.

How to watch

Location: Yankee Stadium — Bronx, NY

First pitch: 7:05 pm ET

TV broadcast: YES – NYY / NBCSCA - OAK

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9, WADO 1280

Online stream:

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