Weekend Preview: Red Sox vs. Yankees, Part I

Hey there everyone, and welcome to the first edition of our Weekend Preview series! These articles will take a look at the weekend series for the entire season until there’s no more baseball ever again. That’s right. This ride is never-ending. Enjoy it.

For the first weekend this season, the opponent is the Joker to the Red Sox’s Batman: the New York Yankees.

New York Yankees – Current Record: 1-2 – Projected Record: 79-81

The Yankees had a rough go of it against the Toronto Blue Jays, even while rolling their best pitchers out there. New York also struggled to score runs against Toronto’s depleted pitching staff, posting a depressing run differential of -7 in the three-game series. In both losses, the Yankees couldn’t come close to keeping up with the Jays’ bats, and all their starting pitchers not named Michael Pineda didn’t do them any favors.

Now they move on from Toronto’s offense (projected to score 777 runs) to the even stronger Boston lineup (projected to score 797 runs) over the weekend, which may not bode well for the Yankees’ fourth & fifth starters. Yes, the Sox do face Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday, but there issues that make him seem far less imposing than the name usually suggests. On to the match-ups!


Wade Miley vs. Nathan Eovaldi – 7:05 PM EST

Both pitchers make their season debuts with their new teams tonight. Wade Miley, acquired in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, is quite the interesting pitcher. The southpaw toted a 3.98 FIP despite a 4.34 ERA, and all of his peripherals seem to indicate even more improvement is on the horizon. Ground ball rate over 50%? Check. Contact rate drop? Check. First-pitch strike & swinging strike increase from 2013? Oh, you betcha. Against the Yankees’ left-heavy lineup, Wade Miley has the chance to make a great first impression.

On the other side, Eovaldi was acquired in a trade from the Miami Marlins. The 25-year-old right-hander has some serious velo on his pitches, averaging 95.5 mph on his fastball, and dipping as low as 76 mph on his curve, but he’s not a strikeout machine. Eovaldi hasn’t ever had a season in the majors in which he finished with a K/9 over 6.60. Last year, his ERA & FIP marks were 4.37 & 3.37, and his .323 BABIP & 65% LOB percentage suggest he’s been the victim of bad luck. Since he can’t get strikeouts, you’d think he’d go for grounders, right? Not really. His GB% has fluctuated between 40 and 45 percent over his major league career, but he’s shown an ability to keep baseballs from leaving the yard. With the power the Sox possess in their lineup, that ability may not show through in his first start in pinstripes.

Steven Wright Joe Kelly vs. Adam Warren – 1:05 PM EST

Well now, isn’t that a surprise? The inheritor of the knuckleball throne, Steven Wright, just got bumped from his spot start now that Joe Kelly has miraculously come back to full health. We saw a mediocre version of Joe Kelly in 2014 – the Kelly of the the low K-rate (6.02), high BB-rate (4.70) variety. It’s nice that he can get grounders 55 percent of the time, but when everything else is getting hit to the tune of a 4.11 ERA and a 4.62 FIP, getting grounders is the only thing you’re doing. The issue with Kelly is that even though he’s got great stuff and good velo, his pitches just don’t translate to strikeouts. There’s nothing resembling a swing-and-miss pitch here, and living in the bottom of the zone only gets you strikeouts if your name is Dallas Keuchel these days. There’s some potential here, but until it’s realized, he’s going to stay the fifth starter.

Across the diamond, Adam Warren was used only as a reliever last year. He appeared in 69 games, pitched 78.2 innings, but never started a game for the Bombers. Warren has some good swing-and-miss stuff with a 10.6% swinging strike rate, but he seems ill-suited to starting. The splits tell the story: as a reliever, he posts a .242/.312/.386 triple slash against, but as a starter, it balloons to .311/.392/.533. If you’re looking for offense this weekend, this is the game you’ll want to watch.

Clay Buchholz vs. Masahiro Tanaka – 8:00 PM EST

Here we go: national television, rivalry at Yankee Stadium, and two pitchers with drastically different issues. Buchholz showed none of his trademark erratic pitching on Opening Day, silencing the Phillies’ lineup for seven innings while recording nine strikeouts. While the Yankees don’t present a juggernaut lineup like they used to, it’ll be a step up from the barebones starting nine that Philadelphia rolled out. This should be a nice benchmark for what we could see from Buchholz going forward.

For Tanaka, however, the worries about pitching injured still linger. The Yankees’ number-one starter admitted that he’ll pitch with less velocity in order to keep himself from being injured. Bold strategy, Cotton, let’s see if it works out for him. The argument still rages about if he should’ve had Tommy John surgery back in August to so he could avoid limiting himself. His stuff might move the same, but a lack of velo will always be an issue. Just ask Jered Weaver.

Opposing Lineup

At any given time, the Yankees could have eight – EIGHT – left-handed hitters against a right-handed starter. Take a look at their main lineup:

Jacoby Ellsbury – CF – L
Brett Gardner – LF – L
Carlos Beltran – RF – S
Mark Teixeira – 1B – S
Brian McCann – C – L
Chase Headley – 3B – S
Alex Rodriguez – DH – R
Stephen Drew – 2B – L
Didi Gregorius – SS – L

That is some seriously left-handed heavy hitting. However, it doesn’t come with a lot of danger. For example, the Yankees only managed eight runs against Drew Hutchison (okay), R.A. Dickey (meh), and Daniel Norris (young, unproven: projected for a 4.49 ERA & a 4.52 FIP). There’s relatively little bite to this lineup, even though a lot of the names may give it some bark – this is possibly the best lineup the Yankees could roll out there, and the Bombers are still projected for only 679 runs, which ranks fourth in the AL East.


The Rivalry has lost a lot of its vitriol with the rise of the Rays and the Orioles, but old habits still die hard. Will the Sox roll over a weakened Yankees squad? We’ll see. New York isn’t a terrible team, and the Red Sox did look impotent at times in Philadelphia. Who says April baseball doesn’t matter?

Photo by Kelly O’Connor, 

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