If last night’s game was over as quickly as it began, tonight’s seems like a foregone conclusion. After baseball’s best team, the Braves, trounced the Yankees 11-3 (going up 8-2 after just three innings), there’s little reason to suspect a different outcome in this contest ... especially with Luis Severino on the bump.
The impending free agent has allowed more than a run per inning in each of his last three outings and in five of his last seven. In each of those seven, he’s yielded at least one homer. On the season, he ranks third-worst with 2.5 homers per nine among hurlers with at least 50 innings. His 8.06 ERA also ranks second-highest in that group. Any outing could be his last in pinstripes (or at the very least in the rotation), as Carlos Rodón’s pending return looms large.
Opposite Severino will be Bryce Elder, whose solid 3.64 ERA masks what has been a tale of two seasons for the young right-hander. In the first half, Elder tossed 106 innings of 2.97-ERA ball and earned an All-Star berth, only to allow 18 earned runs in his first 25 innings of the second half. If that trend continues, the Yankees may have a chance in this one, but it seems unlikely that Elder’s first-half success was simply a mirage. He features a sinker that crosses the plate at an incredibly steep angle, meaning it is frequently drilled into the ground:
If you were wondering how Bryce Elder has a sub-3 ERA while sitting 89-90, this is it. It's nearly the steepest sinker in MLB, so it constantly gets beat into the dirt. It also has very little wiggle, which @levy_cameron has written about neutralizing platoon splits on sinkers pic.twitter.com/VByuYC8hFt— Robert Orr (official) (@NotTheBobbyOrr) June 22, 2023
Backing up Elder is arguably the majors’ best and deepest lineup. MVP frontrunner Ronald Acuña Jr. will lead things off, as he inches closer and closer to baseball’s first-ever 30/60 season. Last year’s NL Rookie of the Year Michael Harris suffered through an injury-riddled start to the season, but he’s slashed .344/.380/.548 since the calendar turned to June. He’ll hit second. Meanwhile, major-league home-run leader Matt Olson will clean up.
Since Severino can’t be counted on, the Yankees’ hopes of remaining above .500 rest on a shaky lineup. Isiah Kiner-Falefa will lead off and start at third, with the usual two through four spots filled by Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Giancarlo Stanton. Jake Bauers gets the nod in left tonight, batting fifth, and DJ LeMahieu sticks at first, possibly to rest his calf a bit, hitting sixth. Harrison Bader, Anthony Volpe, and Ben Rortvedt round out the order at their usual spots on defense. Rortvedt gets his second nod behind the plate in three games thanks to a long homer in his last appearance.
How to watch
Location: Truist Park — Atlanta, GA
First pitch: 7:20 pm ET
TV broadcast: YES, Bally Sports South, TBS (out-of-market only)
Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280 / 680/93.7 FM The Fan, Le Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM
Online stream: MLB.tv