Boston Red Sox Season Preview: July 15 to July 18

It’s time for the Yankees to sink or swim. The All-Star break is over and the Yankees will be thrown right back into the fire, facing Boston four times in the Bronx through Sunday. It’s as pivotal as a July series gets. If the Yankees still have aspirations to win the division (they’re 8.0 games behind Boston), they need to win this series.

Their Story So Far

We’re pretty familiar with Boston’s story already. They’re 6-0 against the Yankees this year, with the two sides last squaring off at the end of June. The Sox have rode their offense, which has scored the third-most runs in MLB, to a 55-36 record. That’s good for first place in the AL East, of course. That said, they did drop four of six to the Angels and Phillies entering the All-Star break, and Tampa Bay is right on their tail (1.5 games back).

At the very least, the Red Sox will need better pitching to hold off the Rays. Boston’s allowed 4.47 runs per game, which is league-average. That said, their rotation has been the real issue: it’s allowed 4.81 runs per nine innings as a group. Help is on the way, though. Chris Sale could be the staff’s knight in shining armor. He’s about to embark on a rehab assignment as he nears a return from Tommy John surgery.

All told, Boston has exceeded expectations this season. As we noted in our season preview, pitching was supposed to be their downfall. It hasn’t been good, but it certainly hasn’t derailed them to the extent anyone anticipated. In the preseason, PECOTA and FanGraphs had them projected to win 80 and 85 games, respectively. Instead, they’re on a 98-win pace with Sale’s return looming.

Injury Report

PlayerPositionInjuryRoster StatusEstimated Return
Danny SantanaOF/1BStrained Quad10-day ILThis weekend
Marwin GonzalezUTILHamstring10-day ILTBD
Chris SaleLHPTommy John surgery60-day ILAugust
Matt AndrieseRHPHamstring tendinitis10-day ILThis weekend
Eduard BazardoRHPStrained lat60-day ILAugust
Ryan BrasierRHPConcussion60-day ILTBD

Spotlight: Jarren Duran

Like the Yankees, the Red Sox will call up an outfielder of their own for this series, Jarren Duran. But unlike Trey Amburgey, who’s coming up for the Bombers, Duran is a pretty noteworthy prospect. He’s a consensus top-100 prospect in MLB who’ll make his big league debut as early as tonight.

Duran, 24, is a center fielder who swings from the left side of the dish. Boston nabbed him in the 7th round of the 2018 and all he’s done is hit in the minors. That said, it’s worth pointing out how much his offensive profile has changed this season as compared to what he did in his first two professional years before COVID-19 halted the 2020 minor league campaign.

Through 2019, Duran hit .322/.376/.446 (140 wRC+) with 70 stolen bases in 93 attempts. He had topped out in Double-A, by the way, though he did not hit all that much once promoted to that level in 2019 (87 wRC+). Nonetheless, Duran exhibited pretty good bat-to-ball skills and great speed.

This year, Duran’s made huge strides in the power department. He already has 15 homers in 219 PA, nearly doubling his career minor league home run total entering 2021 (16). Per Baseball Prospectus, he’s benefitted from a swing overhaul that’s substantially increased his game power. The swing change hasn’t hurt him elsewhere, as his strikeout rate remains a respectable 23.7 percent whereas he’s walking more than ever before at 11.0 percent. In total, Duran owns a .270/.365/.561 (14 wRC+) in Triple-A.

Although Hunter Renfroe has had a nice season for Boston (108 wRC+), the majority of that damage has come against southpaws. As such, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him enter a platoon with Duran going forward. Or, we could see Duran play more center field, with Kiké Hernandez playing more infield. In any event, Duran should play a lot going forward as long as he hits akin to his performance in Triple-A.

Projected Lineup

Here’s Roster Resource‘s projected lineup, although it has not accounted for Duran’s promotion as of yet:

  1. Kiké Hernández, CF (.237/.316/.430, 101 wRC+) — Mostly played center field (61 games), but perhaps we’ll see him at second base more often now that Duran is up (16 games so far).
  2. Alex Verdugo, LF (.278/.346/.425, 108 wRC+) — Been a fine player, but just imagine this Boston team with Mookie Betts still.
  3. J.D. Martinez, DH (.299/.371/.556, 145 wRC+) — 2020’s 77 wRC+ was clearly an aberration.
  4. Xander Bogaerts, SS (.321/.385/.545, 149 wRC+) — Going to finish in the top-5 in MVP voting this year if he keeps this up.
  5. Rafael Devers, 3B (.282/.350/.564, 140 wRC+) — 22 homers leads the Red Sox.
  6. Hunter Renfroe, RF (.263/.321/.459, 108 wRC+) — 157 wRC+ against lefties, 81 wRC+ against righties.
  7. Christian Arroyo, 2B (.264/.323/.439, 106 wRC+) — Former first round pick (Giants, 2013) seems to have found a home in Boston.
  8. Christian Vázquez, C (.261/.308/.351, 79 wRC+) — Power has vanished. Had 30 homers and a .194 ISO in 2019-2020, but just 4 homers and .091 ISO this season.
  9. Bobby Dalbec, 1B (.219/.264/.409, 78 wRC+) — Boston should be in the market for a first baseman at the deadline. Dalbec has big power, but a 36.8 percent K-rate isn’t tolerable without more consistent production.

Bench:

  • Kevin Plawecki, C (.250/.314/.344, 81 wRC+) — Just returned from injured list over the weekend (hamstring strain).
  • Michael Chavis, INF (.203/.226/.322, 42 wRC+) — Been up-and-down from the minors a few times.
  • Jarren Duran, OF (debut) — Hopefully he doesn’t pop any homers into the short porch this weekend. Check out the spotlight above for more on him.

Pitching Matchups

Tonight, 7:08pm eastern

LHP Eduardo Rodríguez (84 ERA+)

Things haven’t gone well for E-Rod (5.52 ERA in 89.2 innings), who’s returning from myocarditis after he contracted COVID-19 and missed the season last year. That said, he’s allowed only five runs in 11.1 innings against the Yankees this year (4.05 ERA). (Stats vs. Yankees)

RHP Domingo Germán (97 ERA+)

Gerrit Cole will get a couple extra day’s rest after throwing 129 pitches on the 10th, so Germán it is. Germán rejoins the rotation after making two relief appearances this month. He’s faced Boston twice this year (9.2 IP, 5 R, 4 ER). (Stats vs. Red Sox)

Rodríguez.

Tomorrow, 7:05pm eastern

LHP Martín Pérez (115 ERA+)

The southpaw has a 2.74 ERA in his last five starts (23 innings), which has lowered his season ERA to 4.04 from 4.52 in mid-June. He doesn’t go very deep into games, and hasn’t topped 5.1 innings since June 3rd. Pérez gave up three unearned runs to the Bombers on June 25th. (Stats vs. Yankees)

LHP Jordan Montgomery (103 ERA+)

Monty’s had a fine season and pitched pretty well his last time against Boston. He met the minimum requirements for a Quality Start, and hopefully, he can deliver that kind of performance once again. (Stats vs. Red Sox)

Pérez.

Saturday, 7:15pm eastern

RHP Nathan Eovaldi (127 ERA+)

Nasty Nate has dominated his former club this year, allowing just three runs (two earned) in 13.2 innings in two starts. He’s easily been Boston’s best pitcher this year, and has proven to be a developmental success for them after the Yankees couldn’t quite get him to this level. (Stats vs. Yankees)

RHP Gerrit Cole (160 ERA+)

Boston knocked Cole around at Fenway in June, though it didn’t look like he’d last the five innings he actually pitched. Hopefully, we see much more of the guy we saw last time out against the Astros, rather than that ugly performance in Boston. (Stats vs. Red Sox)

Eovaldi.

Sunday, 7:05pm eastern

RHP Nick Pivetta (108 ERA+)

Boston’s hoping to unlock whatever the Phillies couldn’t out of Pivetta, and so far results have been mixed. He’s had some dominant starts, such as seven two hit innings against Oakland on July 4, but also some real clunkers. He’s most been decent, though, as his 4.30 ERA would indicate. (Stats vs. Yankees)

RHP Jameson Taillon (88 ERA+)

The Red Sox scored thrice against Taillon across 5.1 innings in early June at Yankee Stadium, and the right-hander has continued to be up-and-down since then. The Yankees really need him to put things together, ASAP. This will be his most important start of the year. (Stats vs. Red Sox)

Pivetta.

Bullpen Status

Closer Matt Barnes threw 25 pitches in Tuesday’s All-Star game, but I don’t think that will limit him for the start of this series. Everyone else, obviously, was off since Sunday. So, no real need for the pitch count table. Instead, just a list of their bullpen arms:

  • Matt Barnes
  • Adam Ottavino
  • Hirokazu Sawamura
  • Darwinzon Hernandez (LHP)
  • Garrett Whitlock
  • Brandon Workman
  • Yacksel Ríos
  • Austin Brice
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3 Comments

  1. DZB

    I just saw the news that Sale has made a rehab start. Yikes, with him coming back that is yet another reason to think that the NYY won’t be competitive in the division.

  2. Tim Loceddardstro

    And Lindsey just reported that tonight’s ballgame has been cancelled due to covid. No club has handled covid worse than the Yankees. No other team has had half their club infected like ours. How this training/medical staff is still in place is beyond me. I guess this’ll give us 4 days off like everyone else.

  3. Tim Loceddardstro

    At a minimum it’s a must win 3 out of 4, Derek, and more than likely a sweep is needed for any modicum of a chance at the playoffs. And Jim Mora is probably spinning in his grave with George at even the mention of that word. Without our ace, Nestor, I don’t see much chance for us to get anything better than a split. Eovaldi dominates us. He’s another Cash enrich Boston special along with Ottavino and Whitlock. Cole better be prepared to throw another 130 pitches and CGSO. I see Britton is back but haven’t heard anything about Loisaga. That means Green is the closer. The only good thing is these first two games are vs lefties so we’ll see more Locastro and Trey. The more of them the better in this series and in life.

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