It has been a rugged journey this year for both the New York Yankees and defending world champion Boston Red Sox. This weekend at Fenway Park, their paths intersect once again, with the Yanks looking to further twist the dagger into their eternal rival’s season.
As of Tuesday, Boston had won six of eight going into their huge series with the Minnesota Twins, but still remain 5.5 games back of the second American League Wild Card spot. This week could go a long way in determining if the Red Sox will have a shot at a real title defense.
Meanwhile, New York has continued to pour it on despite all their injuries in the first half of the campaign, building their lead in the AL East up to nine games over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays, who also have possession of the top Wild Card berth.
The Yankees are 11-4 opposite the Red Sox this year in what has mostly been high-scoring action. Will the same trend unfold in their latest meeting? Let’s go through the matchups on tap.
Domingo German vs. TBD (Friday): Boston currently does not have a starter announced for the series opener but look for some sort of bullpen effort to be deployed, much like was the case when this previous turn in the rotation came up.
Josh Taylor started but it was Brian Johnson — who is also a starter — that did most of the work. From that, we can gather Johnson will be involved considerably here, though that isn’t necessarily a good thing. The 28-year-old left-hander owns a 5.17 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in six career games (three starts) opposite the Bronx Bombers.
German has far superior numbers against this opponent, sporting a relatively respectable 3.98 ERA and 1.13 WHIP lifetime in five meetings (four starts). He’s also gotten back on track after a sluggish July that saw him post a 4.67 ERA, his highest of any month. German recorded a 3.67 ERA in July, but even if he’s just slightly off his game here, it’ll probably be enough for a final score on the high side. OVER
J.A. Happ vs. David Price (Saturday): Two veteran southpaws go at it on FS1 in a nationally-televised affair, both looking to continue their steady progression. Price recently just returned from injury after missing almost all of August and was limited to two scoreless frames last Sunday in his first start back.
He’ll have a far higher pitch-count for this assignment. At the same time, the Yanks have continued to be a real problem for Price — just as they have throughout his career — scoring nine runs on 15 hits in the lefty’s two dates with them this year.
Then there’s Happ, who would love to keep dishing out the solid work he’s served up as of late. In fact, Happ has allowed three runs or fewer in back-to-back outings for the first time since his first couple of starts after the All-Star break. He’s also maintained his desirable work facing the Sox, now being 10-4 with a 3.28 ERA in 24 career games (23 starts). UNDER
Masahiro Tanaka vs. Rick Porcello (Sunday): The Rivalry will again be on national television the following day, garnering this week’s ESPN Sunday Night Baseball nod.
It could also be a showcase for some heavy lumber, as the Red Sox have absolutely hammered Tanaka in 2019. In fact, he’s literally registered a 40.50 ERA in the pair of meetings, though to be fair, one came in the explosive London Series overseas. Tanaka has been better lately but another tough showing at the office with Boston may be in store.
Ditto that for Porcello. Again, just like with Tanaka, there’s been improvement lately overall but this is his toughest opponent this year. In three matchups with New York, the former AL Cy Young Award winner has notched a 11.45 ERA. OVER
James Paxton vs. Eduardo Rodriguez (Monday): Another matchup of lefties will commence in the series finale. Rodriguez has been very impressive in assuming a leadership role on the pitching staff with Chris Sale going down due to injury (not to mention while Price was sidelined). He’s four W’s away from a 20-win campaign and Rodriguez has been markedly consistent, pitching the Red Sox into the sixth in all but one of his last 26 assignments.
Paxton, acquired in the offseason to be a co-ace of the rotation, hasn’t been as steady as his counterpart in this one but he is starting to round into normal form again. The former Seattle Mariner has surrendered three runs or fewer in five of his last six starts, picking up 39 strikeouts over 35.1 innings within that span. UNDER
Last week: 0-3