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New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox: Series preview

The first round of The Rivalry, 2023 edition, starts this weekend.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a messy, complicated series with the White Sox, the Yankees take on the red variety this weekend, welcoming Boston to Yankee Stadium for the first time this year. Entering this series the Red Sox are one game under .500, last place in the AL, and although the offense has been above average, their record has been dragged down by a truly poor pitching staff.

Friday: Gerrit Cole vs. Garrett Whitlock (7:05 pm ET)

After the chaos of Thursday’s doubleheader, the Yankees will enjoy the stability of Gerrit Cole kicking off the series. Cole’s 2.82 ERA sparkles, although his renewed struggle with home runs has his FIP nearly a full run higher than that. He is coming off a six-inning, one-run performance against the Dodgers where he kept the ball in the ballpark, and will look to build off of that and get on another strong run.

Whitlock, everyone’s favorite Rule 5 draftee, is having quite the tough year, with an ERA over five and FIP of 4.96. The chief culprit is a complete collapse of his strikeout rate, as both his sinker and changeup have failed to fool hitters at all this season. His sweeper is still a plus pitch, but anything in the zone has been getting smoked all year.

Saturday: Domingo Germán vs. Tanner Houck (7:35 pm ET)

Houck has the opposite problem of Whitlock — where the latter can’t strike anyone out, the former can’t stop walking guys despite his strikeout rate being on par with last season. In his last start, Sunday against the Rays, he struck out six across five innings but the four free passes doomed him to the loss. Command of the sinker, especially glove side, has been an issue all year and driving a lot of those base on ball problems.

Germán’s on a nice little run for himself, allowing two runs or less in five of his last six starts. His walk rate has ticked up, but a huge spike in curveball usage has helped turn him into a respectable rotation piece. His season ERA now sits at 3.69, and while he still gives up too many home runs for my taste, there’s no denying he’s stepped up in a big way after the blows the starting rotation has taken this year.

Sunday: Clarke Schmidt vs. Brayan Bello (7:10 pm ET)

Schmidt made one mistake on Tuesday night, a middle-middle cutter that was hit about 600 feet. While that outing wasn’t necessarily a good start, he finds himself on a run of four straight games of good enough pitching — that may not sound great, but from where he was a month ago, and with Nestor Cortes on the IL, good enough is kind of what the club needs right now. This will be the first time he starts a game against the Red Sox, but in four relief appearances Boston has hit him to a 6.75 ERA, although his OPS against the Sox is lower than his career mark.

Boasting perhaps the best pure stuff on the roster, Bello is a fun pitcher to watch even if he hasn’t quite pulled it all together on the mound. The 24-year-old has posted respectable strikeout and walk rates, but when guys do touch him the ball tends to jump. With 15th-percentile hard-hit rates and 23rd percentile xSLG, we could see a lot of loud contact off both starters in Sunday’s ESPN matchup.