The Yankees are in Boston for a crucial four game series against the Red Sox which begins Thursday night.
Both pitching staffs took a hit just ahead of the series. Ace Chris Sale went to the DL with shoulder inflammation, while J.A. Happ contracted hand, foot and mouth disease and was sent home during the short series against Baltimore.
It remains to be seen if Happ will start on Saturday. Late Wednesday, it was reported that Luis Cessa will be called up for the series. Lynn might not be available after throwing 4.1 innings of scoreless ball in relief on Wednesday. It’s speculated he could slot into Sonny Gray‘s spot in the rotation next week.
Missing Sale, who has a career 1.61 ERA against the Yankees, makes this series much easier for a lineup sans Aaron Judge, who is hitting .455/.550/.848 against Boston this season.
The Yankees sit 5.5 games back of the Red Sox in the AL East. A sweep decreases that number to 2.5, whereas taking three of four puts the Bombers within 3.5. A split does nothing, and anything worse than that just digs a deeper hole.
Game 1: CC Sabathia vs. Brian Johnson
Sabathia (6-4, 3.53 ERA) exited after just 4.2 innings and 79 pitches against the Royals last Saturday, stemming from walking a run in. His fatigue may be starting to show, as the 38-year-old has not made it over five innings in two of his last four starts. Nonetheless, Sabathia has been more than adequate up to this point. Despite owning a career 4.12 ERA against the Red Sox, Sabathia threw seven innings of one-run ball last time he faced them.
Johnson (1-3, 3.45 ERA) has been in and out of the bullpen, acting as a spot starter. He boasts a 1.80 starter ERA in six outings. Johnson has made it past the fifth inning in just two of those starts, and never past the sixth inning. He threw 5.2 shutout innings against the Twins in his previous outing.
Game 2: Luis Severino vs. Rick Porcello
Severino (14-4, 2.94 ERA) is in the midst of an atrocious string of outings. He has allowed six runs in his last two starts, and 19 in his last 19.1 innings pitched while his ERA rose nearly a whole run. All pitchers go through their share of rough patches, though. Sevy is still the Yankees’ ace and is capable of returning to the pitcher that shutout Boston for 6.2 innings last time he faced them.
Porcello (13-4, 4.03 ERA) has been inconsistent throughout the year. He has complied a 6.53 ERA in his past four starts, but threw to a 3.65 ERA in the previous four starts before that. It shows in his two outings against the Yankees. His first (7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R) yielded much better results than the second (5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R). When Porcello is on, he is a tough pitcher to beat.
Game 3: Happ or Luis Cessa vs. Nathan Eovaldi
This has the potential to be the battle of the trade deadline acquisitions. Each pitcher shined in their respective debuts as Happ (11-6, 4.05 ERA) went six innings, allowing one run on three hits. Eovaldi (4-4, 3.80 ERA), a former Yankee, was equally impressive (7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R).
Both pitchers have tons of AL East pitching experience, although Happ has more experience pitching against Boston than Eovaldi does with New York. Happ is 7-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 19 career outings against the Red Sox, whereas Eovaldi got tagged for five runs in 7.1 innings in his only start against the Yankees. Additionally, Happ has a 2.91 ERA pitching at Fenway Park, and Eovaldi sits at 4.01.
Cessa pitched well during his last call-up to the majors. Over two starts combined against the Orioles and Rays in July, Cessa yielded just two runs over 11.1 innings. Overall on the season, Cessa is 1-2 with a 3.10 ERA in seven games (three starts).
Game 4: Masahiro Tanaka vs. David Price
Ever since returning from the DL from straining both hamstrings, Tanaka (9-2, 3.84 ERA) has pitched like the ace everyone has been waiting for. He boasts a 1.75 ERA in his last four starts, and has not allowed a run in his last 15 innings pitched. Tanaka pitching to his potential is far more valuable to the Yankees than acquiring a frontline pitcher. He is 8-4 with a 4.18 ERA in 16 career starts against the Red Sox.
As we all know, Price (11-6, 3.97 ERA) does not have the best success against the Yankees. He has a 24.92 ERA with six home runs allowed in his two starts against the Bombers this year, and a career 4.90 ERA in close to 40 starts. Price has a 1.71 ERA in his last three starts, but on the other hand, he is also facing a team that belted five home runs in 3.1 innings against him last time out.