As we expected, the last week has been a massive test for the Red Sox. Three games in Houston were immediately followed by a three game home stand against the Indians. Unfortunately, they have come away from those six games with a 2-4 record. Things are not about to get much easier as they travel to a Yankees team who are 28-9 in their last 37 games.
6/1 Rick Porcello vs. TBD 7:15 pm NESN
After allowing just an average of three runs per game in Houston, the Red Sox allowed the Indians to score a whopping 26 runs in their three game home stand. Nine of those runs came off stand-in starter Ryan Weber, but the majority of the rest of the damage came off the bullpen. Porcello allowed five runs to score (three earned), with the remaining 12 runs being dealt to the pen. That is a major concern for a Red Sox team who have been fighting to get consistency from their starters for most of this season.
After a rough last two games against the Indians the Yankees need to bounce back immediately. The good news is that Chris Sale has an extremely good history against the Yankees and in Yankee Stadium. In 105 2/3 career innings against the Yankees, he has allowed just 22 earned runs (1.87 ERA). In Yankee Stadium he has a 2.36 ERA in 53 1/3 innings.
Domingo German has been the ace in the pack for the Yankees this season, especially at home, where he has a 1.69 ERA this season. However, he was hit hard by the Kansas City Royals in his last start on the road. German allowed four home runs off him, with seven earned in total. The Red Sox will be hoping they can exploit the same part of his game that the Royal did so capably last time out.
This will be the first time Michael Chavis has faced the Yankees in his young career. The rookie infielder has 10 home runs already this season, to go with a .269 batting average. Chavis has been pretty equal with his home run distribution. Six have come against righties, four against lefties, five at home and five on the road. How he performs in the next four games could give Red Sox fans a glimpse into the character behind the stats.
The Yankees rank sixth in the majors in home runs, seventh in batting average and eighth in slugging percentage. However, they have had some struggles against left-handed pitchers. They rank 21st in batting average, 27th in home runs, and 23rd in slugging percentage. Those are very promising numbers considering the Yankees have three lefties on the mound in this series.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Pitching: The entire equation has switched in the last couple of weeks. It was no long ago we were looking for better performances from the starters. All four starters going in this series allowed three or less earned runs in their last start. However, as I mentioned above the bullpen struggled massively against the Indians. Bullpen performance can be wildly inconsistent, but many felt it was a real weakness for the Red Sox entering the season. It would be great to see some dominant performances from the bullpen in this series. Especially in a stadium where the Red Sox could have potential playoff games.
Hitting: The Red Sox need a few more hitters to step up, especially with Mitch Moreland hitting the IL. Chavis, Bogaerts, Martinez, Devers and Betts are all pulling their weight. Christian Vazquez has been impressive when left-handed pitchers have been on the mound but then there are some question marks. They will want more out of Benintendi and someone to step up and make the gap left by Moreland their role. Whether that is Steve Pearce or someone else it does not matter, but someone needs to step up and fill the gap.
After a rough week the Red Sox really need to turn it around in New York. The Yankees are currently on a fantastic run of form, but that will just motivate this Red Sox team even more. The positive for the Red Sox is that the Yankees numbers with left-handed pitchers on the mound is significantly less than stellar.
There is no way to look at this other than the Red Sox need to at worst split this series. The Red Sox are 7.5 games behind the Yankees entering this series. Slipping further behind would not be a disaster, but it would be a problem. This Yankees team is missing some key pieces and is still tearing up the diamond. If their stars come back and click, the Red Sox need to be in touching distance to have a real shot.