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New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox: Series Preview

The Yanks could at least take a third of their games against the Red Sox this season with a series win!

Clarke Schmidt receives congratulations after his last start against Detroit.
Clarke Schmidt receives congratulations after his last start against Detroit.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

After a marathon 13-inning win against the Brewers that started off as a bid to avoid being no-hit and then a bit to avoid a sweep, the Yankees face a quick turnaround and a four-game series in the unfriendly confines of Fenway. They’ll also have to do so without talented rookie, Jasson Domínguez, who is out with a torn UCL.

The Yankees still have quite the leg up against their longtime divisional foes in their all-time series, taking 1,259 games to the Red Sox’s 1,052, but Boston has done their best to close the gap this year, taking eight games to the Yankees’ one. The stakes for one of sports’ greatest rivalries have rarely been this low, as for the first time since 2014, neither will likely make the playoffs. But for an extremely disappointing Bombers squad, managing even a split in their last bout this year — a four-game series starting tonight — against the Red Sox would perhaps represent a symbolic victory that could help them carry some momentum into next season. (There has to be something, right?)

Monday: Clarke Schmidt vs. Kutter Crawford (7:10 pm ET)

After failing to get an out in the seventh inning in any of his first 29 career starts, Schmidt has done so twice in his last three outings. The key for the right-hander will be maintaining his stamina down the stretch, proving he can be a rotation staple in the years to come as he easily surpasses his previous career-high in innings. In his last appearance against the Red Sox on August 20th, Schmidt struck out eight and allowed two earned runs in 5.2 innings for a no-decision.

Crawford tossed six innings of one-run ball against the Yankees on August 19th, but has had just one decent outing in three starts since. Across his last two, he’s yielded 11 earned runs in 6.1 innings, walking nearly as many (five) as he’s struck out (six). On the season, his numbers resemble Schmidt’s, and both second-year pros work with a four-seamer, a cutter, a slider, and a knuckle curve, but Crawford also works a splitter into the fold while Schmidt uses a sinker and an occasional changeup.

Tuesday: Carlos Rodón vs. Nick Pivetta (7:10 pm ET)

Rodón looked like he might be turning a corner, allowing two earned runs or fewer in three straight starts prior to his last outing. But his most recent appearance was a clunker against the lowly Tigers as he was shelled for seven earned runs in just 3.2 innings. Even more troubling, the big left-hander averaged a season-low 94.4 mph on his heater. But if he can get his velocity back up a tick, there’s reason to think he can resume his turnaround.

Pivetta has served in a bulk role for most of the season, making 22 of his 34 appearances out of the ‘pen. But with James Paxton on the shelf, he’ll return to the rotation and make just his second start in his last six outings. The move to bulk relief has helped Pivetta run a career-high 30.4-percent K-rate, but he’s also struggled with his early-career kryptonite — the longball. His 1.69 HR/9 figure ranks 18th-highest among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched this season.

Wednesday: TBA vs. Tanner Houck (7:10 pm ET)

As of Sunday night, there is no official Yankees starter just yet. This would’ve been Luis Severino’s turn in the rotation before an oblique strain ended his season and perhaps his career in pinstripes. Frequent fill-in starters Randy Vásquez and Jhony Brito are each possible options; the former threw 2.1 innings of one-run ball in relief of Rodón in Thursday’s loss to Detroit, while Brito entered for the injured Sevy on Friday and did ... exactly the same thing (albeit with a couple more baserunners.

Houck is making his fifth start since missing two months with a facial fracture brought on by a Kyle Higashioka line drive. In those four recent starts, Houck has allowed 13 earned runs in 19.1 innings for a 6.05 ERA. In his young career, Houck has shut down righties to the tune of a .248 wOBA thanks to an excellent slider, but lefties have hit nearly 100 points better at .336; look for the Yankees to stack their lineup with southpaws.

Thursday: Michael King vs. TBA (7:15 pm ET)

King is coming off of his best and longest start since the Yankees opted to stretch him out. The right-hander tossed five innings of one-run ball for the second start in a row, but in this one, he struck out nine and reached back for 79 pitches, the most he’s ever thrown in a major league game. We could see King get all the way up to 90 in this one if he’s in a groove.

The Red Sox haven’t revealed who will start on Thursday, but if he’s healthy, it should be Chris Sale’s turn. The veteran southpaw has vacillated between “fine” and “bad” for much of 2023, and in his last time out, Baltimore thumped him for six runs on seven hits and two walks. The Yankees haven’t faced him since last July — the end of his extremely abbreviated 2022 campaign.