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New York Yankees vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Series Preview

The Yankees head to St. Louis in time to face an old friend.

Houston Astros v St. Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Domingo Germán’s perfect game might be just the shot in the arm the Yankees need to jumpstart their second-half. It seemed to invigorate the offense, who logged double-digit runs in back-to-back games for the first time since May — albeit against a woeful Oakland pitching staff — to win the series. If nothing else, the offense has no end of positives to bring into the upcoming series against the Cardinals.

Friday: Luis Severino vs. Matthew Liberatore (8:15 pm ET)

Just as concern was mounting over Luis Severino’s ineffectiveness in a string of starts, he went and logged his best start of the year — six scoreless innings against the Rangers and their MLB-best offense. Fastball velocity, life, and command were all crisp, allowing the cutter to play up off the heater. In seven starts, Severino is 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA (80 ERA+), 5.80 FIP, and 32 strikeouts in 36 innings.

Matthew Liberatore joined the Cardinals in 2020 as part of the trade that netted the Rays Randy Arozarena and made his MLB debut last year pitching a total of 34.2 replacement-level innings. He throws a four-seamer in the mid-90s supplemented by curveball and sinker and pitches to a ton of hard contact, sitting in the first percentile in xwOBA, seventh percentile in chase rate and eighth percentile in whiff rate. In seven appearances (six starts) Liberatore is 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA (77 ERA+), 4.77 FIP, and 21 strikeouts in 27.1 innings.

Saturday: Gerrit Cole vs. Jack Flaherty (2:15 pm ET)

Gerrit Cole wasn’t at his sharpest last time out but as aces do he gave the Yankees enough to still emerge victorious. Much has been made of his pinpoint fastball execution and for good reason but I’ve taken more encouragement from the slider of late. After getting off to a slow start, the pitch is back to looking like the elite version we expect, inducing whiffs on over half of swings over his last two starts. In 17 starts, Cole is 8-1 with a 2.78 ERA (150 ERA+), 3.39 FIP, and 113 strikeouts in 103.2 innings.

Jack Flaherty seems to be more concerned with holding vendettas against the media than actually pitching. Off to the worst start of his big league career, the 27-year-old righty recently refused to answer questions about his diminished velocity, instead resorting to personal attacks against those who’ve asked the questions. The Yankees may just be catching him at the perfect moment as he’s coming off consecutive starts giving up six runs on 10 hits. In 15 starts, Flaherty is 4-5 with a 4.95 ERA (87 ERA+), 4.20 FIP, and 80 strikeouts in 80 innings.

Sunday: TBD vs. Jordan Montgomery (2:15 pm ET)

The Yankees have yet to name a starter for Sunday’s contest after they optioned Jhony Brito back to Triple-A. Randy Vásquez is one option now that his 15-day option window has run its course. He impressed mightily in just his second big league start, pitching 5.2 scoreless innings against the White Sox allowing two hits and a walk. He kept batters off balance with his frisbee-like sweeper that averages the second-highest spin rate in baseball.

Whoever the Yankees name for the series finale, he will face off against old friend Jordan Montgomery. Gumby’s been the lone steady presence in the Cardinals’ rotation and is on pace for his best ever campaign. He certainly got his revenge against his former employers when he faced them a week after his trade to St. Louis, tossing five scoreless allowing just two hits and a walk. In 16 starts this year, Montgomery is 5-7 with a 3.52 ERA (122 ERA+), 3.51 FIP, and 85 strikeouts in 92 innings.