After a rainout on Thursday, the storied rivalry of the Yankees and Red Sox begins another chapter Friday. Boston comes into this game in a place they hate to be — looking up to New York in the standings. The Yanks come into this series at 36-19, almost the exact record they had at this point last year. On the flip side, the Red Sox have sort of stumbled this season after winning the Fall Classic last year. On May 31 of last season, the Red Sox had a whopping 39 wins, the best in baseball at that point. This year, they are hovering around .500 at 29-27.
Friday night will feature the same matchup that was supposed to take place on Thursday with J.A. Happ against Chris Sale. It has been a tale of two seasons so far for Sale. In his first four starts, people were questioning if age might be starting to creep on Sale, who is now over 30 years old. And those people would have been right to be questioning that, as he had an 8.50 ERA and only 14 strikeouts through those four games.
That was super uncharacteristic for a guy who has had over 200 Ks every season since 2012. Since those four starts, however, Sale has been electric. In the seven starts since, he’s had an ERA of 2.44. In five of those seven starts, Sale has had double-digit strikeouts, including a 17-K game against Colorado.
Happ has been the ever reliable veteran in the middle of the rotation for the Yankees yet again this season. Through 11 starts thus far, he has gone at least five innings and given up three earned runs or less six times. It’s really hard to complain about that, especially knowing who is in that bullpen to close out the rest of the game after Happ.
The one thing that Happ has done a good job of this season is not giving out free passes to first base. In seven of his 11 starts, he’s given out either zero or one walks. The interesting thing to note here is both the Yankees and Red Sox are solid against left-handed pitching. Both are above average in wOBA against lefties, Yankees at .342 and the Sox at .332.
Yankees Don’t Stop Hitting
Aaron Judge. Didi Gregorius. Miguel Andujar. Giancarlo Stanton. Troy Tulowitzki. Aaron Hicks (until recently). All of those players have missed a majority, if not all of the 2019 season. And yet, that has had no effect on the Yankees’ ability to hit. Players like D.J. Lemahieu, Gio Urshela, and Luke Voit have led the Yankees to be one of the best offenses in the majors. The Yankees are top 10 in every major offensive stat: average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging, home runs, runs batted in, hits. They have not missed a step with the injuries, and they’ll only get stronger as they get healthier. Pretty insane.
Most times, this is an easy pick. Sale dominates New York, and the Yankees are always terrible against lefties. In April Sale only lasted five innings and gave up four earned in the Bronx. The Yankees have won eight series in a row and are showing no signs of slowing down. Take New York in this one.
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