In what’s been a disappointing Yankees season on the whole, earlier this week in Atlanta may have been the nadir. While it was always going to be hard to go on the road and take a series against the Braves, who are arguably the best team in baseball, the Yankees looked completely lifeless as they got swept and were shut out on five combined hits in back-to-back ballgames to end it. As a result, New York is under .500 this late in a season for the first time in 28 years and completely reeling as they return home to host their old enemy.
Starting tonight, the Red Sox hit the Bronx for a three-game set. While Boston has hardly lit the world on fire themselves this season and just dropped two out of three to the lowly Nationals, they do come into this series a couple games ahead of the Yankees in the standings. That advantage is on the strength of a 5-1 record against New York, which includes a sweep at Fenway the last time the two sides met in June. Both teams — at least theoretically for the Yankees — could use a could wins in the AL Wild Card race.
With three days of rivalry baseball ahead of us, let’s look at the expected pitching matchups for this weekend.
Friday: TBD vs. Brayan Bello (7:05 pm ET)
With the Yankees still dealing with rotation injuries, they currently have good ol “TBD” going in the opener. The last time through the rotation, they went with an opener a couple times, so it’s possible we see someone like Ian Hamilton fill that role before using Jhony Brito in a bulk role. On the other hand, maybe they’ll go with Brito or someone in a more traditional starting role right from the start since the rookie will be well-rested anyway. It should be fun* to find out.
*It will not be fun.
Boston will be giving the start to Bello, who’s been pretty solid in his second year in the majors. In 20 starts this season, he has a 3.81 ERA and a 121 ERA+. His FIP is a little bit higher than that, but it’s been a step forward from his rookie season. He’s held the Yankees in check both times he’s faced them this season, and was pretty good against them last year, when he otherwise struggled.
Saturday: Gerrit Cole vs. Kutter Crawford (1:05 pm ET)
Last Sunday, the Yankees turned to Cole to try and picked up a series win, and he mostly did his job, only for the Yankees to lose via bullpen implosion. The Yankees have gone 3-5 in the last eight games Cole’s started, but that’s hardly been the ace’s fault. He has a 2.73 ERA and has himself very much in the running for the AL Cy Young Award.
Crawford’s another young Boston pitcher that’s taken a step forward and been very solid for them this year. In 23 games (15 starts), the righty has a 3.80 ERA and 4.17 FIP. The Yankees haven’t run into him so far this year, but he’s another that been good against them even when he’s otherwise struggled.
Sunday: Clarke Schmidt vs. TBD (1:35 pm ET)
Monday against the Braves saw Schmidt’s first real blowup since mid-May. In his last 15 games prior, Schmidt had put up a 3.12 ERA in 75 innings, but he got blasted by a good Atlanta offense. The Braves knocked him out after eight runs in just 2.1 innings. He’s been solid against Boston so far this year, so we’ll so how he bounces back in this one.
At time of writing, the Red Sox haven’t announced their starter for Sunday. Based on the recent rotation orders, this would be a Nick Pivetta day, and that seems like the most likely option. However, considering that they haven’t confirmed that, it remains to be seen.