Yankees and Red Sox Next Opponents Both Have Poor Pre-All Star Game Records

July 19, 2018

Pitching match-ups in the three upcoming Yankee games and three up coming Red Sox games cast possible further light on some of the points made in my earlier posts on this Eastern Division Rivalry. The Yankees will be facing their cross-town National League representative, the New York Mets, who have a record of 39 wins and 55 losses and were defeated in 54 of their last 82 games. The Red Sox also have a weak opponent, the Detroit Tigers, who accrued a record of 41-55, including 7 of their last ten games.

So both teams face a weak opponent, and in games prior to the All-Star game it was against average and below-average teams that the Red Sox secured their 4-1/2 game lead in the standings. While the Yankees won almost the same percentage of games played against top opponents as was their winning percentage in all their other games, but the Red Sox were less successful in games with teams now leading the race to land a post-season birth, splitting 20 such games, and they were much more successful than the Yankees in winning about 3/4ths of all games against opponents that as things currently stand are not playoffs-bound. So this is a could test of that trend. Will the Sox again win as many or more of their upcoming three games as the Yankees do? There’s a reason to expect that they will.

The Yankees’ main team weakness is its suspect rotation of starting pitchers. The Red Sox enjoy a big advantage relative to the Yankees in that element of the game. The stable of starting pitchers is called a “rotation” because once the sequence starts up, barring injury, starting pitchers are generally used in the same order over and over again. But there are two times in the season where there is more flexibility in deciding who pitches which game. That’s at the start of the season and, as now, after the all-star break, since teams have had four straight days off and all pitchers are generally rested. One would think, especially against weak opponents, that the Yanks and Sox would try to start their three best pitchers and get a good roll coming out of the all-star game break. This would be particularly true of the Yankees, who lost 4-1/2 games to the Sox in the Eastern Division standings so far this month.

In the Yankees’ case, however, that’s not happening. In Friday’s game, they are starting Domingo German, arguably their fourth starter who is a rookie with a 2-5 record and who has allowed 5.49 earned runs for every nine innings pitched.  His opponent is Noah Syndergaard, who has a 5-1 record this year, a 2.97 earned run average (ERA) and is widely considered one of the most talented pitchers in baseball, albeit injury-prone. Game two matches Sonny Gray (6-7 and a 5.46 ERA) and Steven Matz (4-7 but a 3.38 ERA and also injury prone). Again the pitching advantages lies with the Mets. In game 3, Masahiro Tanaka (7-2 and a 4.54 ERA) faces the Mets’ best starter, Jacob deGrom, who has a the lowest ERA in the National League (1.68). All three pitching match-ups favor the Mets, and the Yanks’ top starter, Luis Severino, and starter with the most career wins and strikeouts, CC Sabathia, aren’t being used. To be sure, Severino pitched an inning in the all-star game, but so did deGrom.

The Red Sox choice for starters against the Tigers leaves less room for doubt in a series against a weak opponent. David Price with a 10-6 record and winner of the Cy Young award for best pitcher in 2012 is the pick in game 1 and will be matched against Mathew Boyd with a 8 losses and just 4 wins. In Saturday’s game, the Sox are using a first-year player (1-2) with just three decisions and a 4.20 ERA against an 8-year veteran who’s 6-6 and has an ERA of 3.70. In game 3, the Sox throw out Chris Sale, their number one guy, last year’s Cy Young runner-up, and 10-4 with a 2.92 ERA. The Tigers’ starter is 3-9 with a 4.50 ERA. Regarding the scheduled starting pitchers, the Sox have a big advantage in 2 of the 3 games and a just slight disadvantage in a third. The best teams take care of business when facing teams down on their luck, and the Sox seem to be leaving less scope of error on this score coming out of the all-star gate.

Copyright 2018, Larry Greenberg. All rights reserved. No secondary distribution without express permission.





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