Red Sox, Yankees Begin Pivotal Series In the Bronx Tonight

Two of the best teams in baseball are about to go head-to-head as the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees start a three-game series at Yankee Stadium tonight. The two teams possess the two best records throughout all of Major League Baseball through the first 34 games. The Red Sox are off to a 25-9 start while the Yankees are just one game behind them in the division with an equally impressive 24-10 record.

The probably pitching match-ups for the series are as follows:

Tuesday, 7:00 PM EDT: Drew Pomeranz (1-1, 6.84 ERA) vs. Luis Severino (5-1, 2.11 ERA)

Wednesday, 7:00 PM EDT: Rick Porcello (5-0, 2.14 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.39 ERA)

Thursday, 7:05 PM EDT: Eduardo Rodriguez (3-0, 5.29 ERA)  vs. CC Sabathia (2-0, 1.39 ERA)

The Red Sox burst out of the gates at the beginning of the season with a 19-6 record through the month of April while dominating their opponents with a +63 run differential. The Yankees, on the other hand, got off to a slower start in April. After an April 20th loss to the Toronto Blue Jays the Yankees fell to exactly .500 on the season at 9-9. However, after that loss the Yankees went on a preposterous winning streak that saw them go 15-1 over the course of the next 16 games, with their only loss coming to the defending World Series Champions, the Houston Astros. The Yankees still won three out of the four games they played against Houston, at Minute Maid Park in H’Town, in that series.

The Red Sox, by contrast, struggled quite a bit during that same time span. They held an impressive 17-2 record after a victory over the Oakland Athletics on April 20th. After that win, however, the Red Sox went 8-7 over the next 15 games which included series losses to teams with losing records such as the Tampa Bay Rays and the Kansas City Royals.

This series carries a lot of weight, with just one game separating the two teams for the lead in the division. The Red Sox will not have their ace, Chris Sale, on the mound during this series and will have to rely on the struggling Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez to quell a dangerous Yankees offense. Meanwhile, the Yankees will have their best three starting pitchers on the mound for the series which includes CC Sabathia, who should excel against a Red Sox lineup that is hitting just .208 against left-handed pitchers.

Floundering Stars

Jackie Bradley Jr. — .178/.264/.271, 2 HR, 9 RBI

The speedy Red Sox center fielder, Jackie Bradley Jr., has been off to a horrid start thus far in 2018. Bradley is hitting a meager .178 with just a pair of home runs, but what is even worse is his .535 OPS. Bradley possesses the 5th worst OPS in all of Major League Baseball ahead of just Kole Calhoun, Chris Davis, Lewis Brinson, and Jason Kipnis. Red Sox manager, Alex Cora, may be forced to make a hard decision and put Bradley on the bench in the near future, especially with Mitch Moreland swinging a ridiculously hot bat in a platoon role, hitting .347 with 5 home runs and 17 runs batted in.

The Boston @RedSox and New York @Yankees begin a three-game set in the Bronx tonight.Click To Tweet

Drew Pomeranz — 1-1, 6.14 ERA, 1.70 WHIP

Drew Pomeranz missed some time at the beginning of the season with a left forearm strain and has made just three starts since coming off the disabled list. He struggled in his first two starts, failing to make it past the fifth inning in either start. Pomeranz also gave up a whopping three home runs in his April 27th start against the Tampa Bay Rays, a game that he took the loss for. Although he was able to win his last start against Kansas City he still struggled, giving up 3 runs on 8 hits and lasting just 6 innings. Pomeranz will be facing a ferocious right-handed heavy lineup in the Bronx, so the Red Sox desperately need him to return to his 2017 form, a year in which he won 17 games and finished with a solid 3.32 ERA.

Gary Sanchez — .198/.279/.500, 9 HR, 28 RBI

Gary Sanchez has provided plenty of power with 9 home runs early on this season, but he has not provided much else. Sanchez is hitting just .198 and has already struck out 34 times this year, which contributes to his low on-base percentage. Sanchez has also, once again, struggled at the catcher position. He is only throwing out 33% of runners who attempt to steal on him while also allowing 6 passed balls so far this season, which ties him with Omar Narvaez of the Chicago White Sox for the most in all of Major League Baseball. Sanchez is expected to be a big part of the Yankees proverbial, “Three-Headed Monster” in the middle of their lineup along with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Thus far, he has not met those expectations.

Brett Gardner — .203/.322/.254, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .576 OPS

Brett Gardner, whom typically hits at the very top of the Yankees’ lineup, has started his 2018 campaign incredibly slowly. His lack of power and ability to drive the ball is alarming since he is coming off a 2017 season that saw him belt 21 home runs along with 26 doubles and 4 triples. Gardner has just 1 home run so far this season and just 3 doubles to go along with that. His .576 OPS is also frighteningly low for a player of his caliber. Gardner may not remain at the top of the Yankees lineup for much longer if he does not return to form soon.

Players to Watch

Mookie Betts — .355/.434/.818, 13 HR, 26 RBI, 1.252 OPS

Mookie Betts is currently playing at an MVP-caliber level and does not show any signs of slowing down. He has already crushed 13 home runs through the first 34 games this year, which has him on pace to easily surpass his 24 home run mark from 2017. Betts is also showing incredible plate discipline, sporting a 13/14 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has been the primary catalyst for the Red Sox offense so far this season, and he will need to maintain that level of play in this important series.

J.D. Martinez — .349/.396/.619, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 1.015 OPS

Red Sox fans were disappointed when the team was unable, or perhaps unwilling, to land Giancarlo Stanton when he was being shopped by the Miami Marlins this passed offseason. However, Boston still found its right-handed slugger in the form of free agent pick-up, J.D. Martinez. He has come exactly as advertised, providing power and stability from the middle of the Red Sox lineup. Given Martinez’s propensity for hitting the ball to the opposite field he is poised to have a monster series at Yankee Stadium, which has a notoriously shallow right field. The combination of Betts and Martinez will be a menacing challenge for Yankees pitchers this series.

Didi Gregorius — .311/.399/.664, 10 HR, 30 RBI, 1.062 OPS

The man they call, “Sir Didi” has been playing like a king early on in 2018. In a Yankees lineup that is chock-full of right-handed power Gregorius has cemented his role as New York’s best left-handed offensive threat. He leads the Yankees in home runs, batting average, and runs batted in and has been steady as ever defensively. Gregorius and Yankee Stadium are a match made in heaven, as his powerful left-handed stroke caters perfectly to the shallow right field porch in that venue. Gregorius will be facing two pitchers he performs extremely well against in Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez. Against Pomeranz he holds an impressive .381 career average, while also holding a solid .292 average against Eduardo Rodriguez.

Miguel Andujar — .274/.291/.781, 3 HR, 13 RBI

The Yankees’ impressive farm system has produced another promising talent in Miguel Andujar. Now the regular third baseman in New York, Andujar has provided steady offense in the bottom half of the lineup. He already has 13 extra-base hits in just his first 27 games, showing how hard he can hit the ball when he makes contact. Andujar is a strikeout machine, however, carrying a lackluster 22/3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He will be getting his first real taste of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry and could be looking to make a name for himself the way his teammate, Tyler Austin, did earlier this season.

An additional story-line that hangs over this series is whether or not there will be a follow-up to the Joe Kelly-Tyler Austin brawl that took place earlier this season. Both Austin and Kelly have served their respective suspensions that were handed out from Major League Baseball for that fight. With so much on the line tensions will certainly be high during this series, so don’t be surprised if somebody gets plunked at some point during this series.

Fight or no fight this series will be must-watch television for MLB fans everywhere. The Yankees and the Red Sox are the two hottest teams in the league on a collision course, so something has got to give.

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