The Yankees begin their last series at home on Friday as they host the 108-loss Orioles. Hopefully, Sunday will not be the last home game of the season for the Yanks, as they look to secure a definitive playoff spot and open a comfortable lead for the top spot in the Wild Card.
Although they were unable to complete the sweep of the Red Sox on Thursday night, this team was much more enjoyable to watch in this series than it has been recently. Still, it was not fun to watch Boston celebrate their third straight division title right in the Stadium.
With all that said, the Yankees get another shot at Boston in a week to end the season, which will potentially be a preview of the American League Division Series if all goes well. For now, the focus is Baltimore and taking care of business against the worst team in baseball.
Game 1: CC Sabathia vs Yefry Ramirez
Sabathia (7-7, 3.80 ERA) got roughed up in his last start against Toronto, going just 2.1 innings and allowing five runs on seven hits, including three home runs. His ERA has been on a steady rise to the tune of a half a run since August 24.
Fatigue is obviously kicking in for the 38-year-old. He is not as reliable as he once was earlier in the year, but he can still keep the Yankees in the game. Against the Orioles this year, CC has not been so good, posting a 6.00 ERA in three starts. Although, he owns a respectable 3.69 ERA against them in his career, so maybe he can alleviate the struggles he has been facing in his final start against the O’s this season.
On August 24, the last time Sabathia threw against the Orioles, he went six innings of two-run ball. If he can produce a similar outing this time around, the Yankees will be in good shape.
Ramirez (1-6, 5.50 ERA) has been underwhelming to say the least ever since making his Major League debut back in June. He has faced the Yankees three times this season, two starts. In 12 innings, Ramirez has allowed 10 runs in 16 hits.
The last time he started against the Yankees, it did not end well (6 ER in 5 IP). Although, the last time he threw at Yankee Stadium was an excellent performance out of the bullpen (3.0 IP, 1 H, o R).
Game 2: Lance Lynn vs Alex Cobb
Lynn (9-10, 4.90 ERA) has put together a couple of nice starts ever since getting tagged by Detroit. After holding Seattle to two runs over six innings, he allowed just one run in five innings while striking out seven to the Blue Jays his last time out. His traditional stat line may indicate he is not pitching too good ever since being acquired by the Yankees, but his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) tells a whole different story.
It currently sits at 2.13, making a difference of over two runs in relation to his actual ERA (4.47) for the Yankees. This suggests that Lynn is pitching much better than his ERA indicates, as defensive factors and bullpen pitchers allowing his inherited runners to score could be factors in why his ERA is higher than it should be.
Nonetheless, he has pitched well against Baltimore between the Twins and Yankees this season (1 ER in 10.1 IP).
Aside from one bad start, Cobb (5-15, 4.90 ERA) has been overpowering since August. From August 1 until now, he owns a 2.40 ERA in eight starts; and if you take out one start where he allowed 5 ER, his ERA shrinks to 1.49 in seven starts.
Two of those eight starts were against the Yankees, where he went six innings and permitted one run, and then six innings allowing two runs three weeks later. It’ll take something big to get Cobb out of the rhythm he is in right now.
Game 3: JA Happ vs TBD
Happ (16-6, 3.62 ERA) was spectacular in his most recent start against the Red Sox. He took one of the best offenses in baseball for six innings and held them to four hits and one unearned run. It is incredible to witness the success he has had ever since joining the Yankees, and some fans now think he should even be brought back for next season.
A couple more shutdown starts from him and he will turn into last year’s Justin Verlander. Anyways, Happ has thrown pretty well against the Orioles in both his career (3.03 ERA) and this season (1.50 ERA in 24.0 IP)
It is looking pretty bright for the Yankees this series, as they look to keep the pressure on the Athletics to win by taking this series.