The Yankees start a crucial four-game set in Oakland tonight. The team has taken a grasp on the first Wild Card spot, leading the Red Sox by three games and the A’s by 4.5 games. The A’s have lost four in a row, with a few of those being in heartbreaking fashion, but that means nothing for the next four days given the Yankees struggles in Oakland.
The last time the Yankees visited RingCentral Coliseum was August 2019, as they did not meet last season due to COVID. In that series, the Yankees got swept. In fact, they are 1-9 in Oakland since 2017. Conversely, the are 6-3 at home against the Athletics during that span.
If the Yankees win the series by taking three out of four or sweeping, it would really solidify the Yankees postseason chances. On the other hand, if Oakland takes three out of four or sweeps, they could gain two or four games on the Yankees and be nipping on our tails for the rest of the season.
Here’s how the pitching matchups will line up:
Jameson Taillon (8-4, 3.94 ERA) vs. James Kaprielian (7-4, 3.25 ERA)
The Yankees face an old friend in Kaprielian. The 27-year-old never pitched for the Yankees due to injuries, but is having a very solid first full season. Taillon has been one of the better pitchers in the league in the second half with a 1.99 ERA over 40.2 innings pitched. Kaprielian has been the opposite, having a 2.90 ERA in the first half and a 4.05 ERA in the second half. Based on this, the Yankees may have the advantage here, but this is going to be a good match up.
Gerrit Cole (12-6, 2.92 ERA) vs. Sean Manaea (8-8, 3.77 ERA)
The Yankees have the advantage in this one, as they have their ace making his third start since returning from the COVID IL. He’s been solid since then, allowing just one run over 11.2 innings, striking out 15 and walking only two. Manaea is a good pitcher, but he’s not in the same league as Cole.
Perhaps I misspoke in the last one, as this is actually the day when the Yankees send their ace to the hill in Nasty Nestor. He has been brilliant as a starter this year, with an ERA of 2.70 and 32 strikeouts over 36.2 innings. He has also held opposing batters to a .222 batting average and .652 OPS as a starter. Montas has been very good recently after a rough start to the season. He had a 6.20 ERA in April, 3.18 ERA in May, 5.28 ERA in June, 2.30 ERA in July, and 2.63 in August. So he’s going to be a tough matchup for Yankees hitters. This will be another fun one.
Jordan Montgomery (5-5 3.69 ERA) vs. Paul Blackburn (0-1, 4.09 ERA)
The Yankees have the upper hand in this one in the starting pitching department. Blackburn has only thrown 11.0 innings this year and 110.2 innings in his entire MLB career. He has a career ERA of 5.53. Montgomery, on the other hand, seems to have spurts in games where he looks dominant, but often has innings where he gives up a few runs. Overall, he has been decent as a back-end-of-the-rotation option, but he has more of a solid track record when compared to Blackburn.
On paper, the Yankees have advantage when it comes to the above matchups. They need to at least split, and given their horrors in Oakland the past few years, that wouldn’t be the worst outcome. Three out of four would be great, and four out of four would be other worldly. They cannot let the Athletics make up ground on them, and, perhaps more importantly, they need to still focus their attention on catching the Rays.