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Boston Red Sox Season Preview: July 22 to July 25

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The Yankees are riding high as they head into Fenway Park this weekend. With 9 wins in the team’s last 12 games, things are looking up for the Bombers. Winning the division is still a longshot, though a great weekend in Boston could significantly close the gap. A four game sweep, as difficult as that would be to achieve, would bring the Yankees within 3 games of the Red Sox. Hey, we can dream.

As Bobby noted this morning, this series begins an extremely difficult seven game stretch. The Yankees have already handled some tough opponents in the last week or two, but going on the road again will present a big challenge. Hopefully, the Yankees can get some guys back from the COVID-IL before this road trip ends. That would be a huge boost. But for now, the sole focus is on this weekend’s series against their rivals, regardless of who’s available or not.

Their Story So Far

Since I already covered most of Boston’s story last week, I’m going to keep this pretty short.

After losing two of three from the Yankees, Boston won two games against Toronto with a rainout sandwiched in between. While those wins kept the club’s separation from the Yankees at 7 games (6 in the loss column), it did allow the Bombers to jump ahead of the Blue Jays in the standings. Small victory, I guess.

The Red Sox have made one roster move since last weekend in the Bronx. As you may remember, Christian Arroyo hurt himself while stretching at first base. He was put on the IL with a hamstring strain. Danny Santana, who can play all over the field, subsequently was activated from the injured list and took his roster spot.

It’s also worth noting that Boston got good news on Chris Sale. He made his second rehab start on Tuesday and threw 3.2 no-hit innings in Double-A. He sat in the upper 90s too. He’s probably just a couple starts away from a return to the majors. That’s going to be a huge boost to Boston’s rotation.

Injury Report

PlayerPositionInjuryRoster StatusEstimated Return
Christian ArroyoINFStrained hamstring10-day ILTBD
Marwin GonzalezUTILStrained hamstring10-day ILTBD
Chris SaleLHPTommy John surgery60-day ILAugust
Matt AndrieseRHPHamstring tendinitis10-day ILTBD
Eduard BazardoRHPStrained lat60-day ILAugust
Ryan BrasierRHPConcussion60-day ILTBD

Spotlight: Garrett Whitlock

We haven’t really checked in with Whitlock since spring training, when I was clearly wrong to call Boston a non-contender, but also sorta right envisioning the ease the Red Sox would have in keeping the Rule 5 pick all year long. I just figured they’d be able to keep him for the different reasons, of course.

Rather than being stashed on a bad team like former ex-Yankee Rule 5 picks (think Luis Torrens, Rony García, etc.), Whitlock has emerged as a relief ace on a first place team. So far, Whitlock has appeared in 28 games (45.2 innings) and owns a terrific 1.34 ERA. That ERA is fifth-best among relievers and his 2.83 FIP puts him in the top-30. Also of note: Whitlock has +1.14 Win Probability Added, 30th-best of MLB bullpen arms.

Good for Whitlock in making the most of this opportunity, but it’s frustrating to see it done for the Red Sox and impact a division race. Surely, the Yankees regret not protecting him over the likes of Brooks Kriske, Mike Ford, and Thairo Estrada. Kriske is still hanging around, but Ford and Estrada were dumped this season rather unceremoniously. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but that doesn’t make losing Whitlock any less annoying.

Projected Lineup

  1. Kiké Hernández, 2B (.241/.322/.462, 110 wRC+) — After playing most of the year in center field, he’s mostly played on the dirt since Jarren Duran’s promotion.
  2. Jarren Duran, CF (.167/.231/.417, 70 wRC+) — Hit his first career homer on Monday. Took Ross Stripling deep to the opposite field.
  3. Xander Bogaerts, SS (.313/.377/.533, 143 wRC+) — 28 year-old has hit .303/.373/.534 since 2018…Very well could be Cooperstown-bound at this rate.
  4. Rafael Devers, 3B (.279/.355/.570, 143 wRC+) — Plate discipline has substantially improved this year, which is scary. Just south of a 10 percent walk rate after entering with a 7 percent career mark entering 2021.
  5. J.D. Martinez, DH (.307/.377/.576, 153 wRC+) — Batting .333/.426/.725 (200 wRC+) this month.
  6. Alex Verdugo, LF (.269/.340/.410, 103 wRC+) — Been pretty bad since June, hitting .248/.335/.346 (88 wRC+).
  7. Hunter Renfroe, RF (.260/.316/.463, 107 wRC+) — Probably should be in a strict platoon (147 wRC+ vs. lefties, 85 wRC+ against righties).
  8. Danny Santana, 1B (.171/.230/.324, 47 wRC+) — 2-for-9 with a double and homer since returning from the injured list.
  9. Christian Vázquez, C (.256/.304/.346, 76 wRC+) — Had a .194 ISO over the last two years, but just .090 this season.

Bench:

  • Kevin Plawecki, C (.261/.329/.348, 87 wRC+) — Ex-Met has a 112 wRC+ with Boston since joining the team in 2020.
  • Bobby Dalbec, 1B (.217/.259/.402, 74 wRC+) — He’ll probably start against Jordan Montgomery tonight. It appears he’s now in a platoon with Santana at first base.
  • Michael Chavis, INF (.200/.221/.354, 48 wRC+) — Horrendous plate disciple numbers this season: 1.5 percent walk rate and 38.2 percent strikeout rate in 68 plate appearances.

Pitching Matchups

Tonight, 7:10pm eastern

LHP Jordan Montgomery (103 ERA+)

Monty started the first game of last weekend’s series against Boston and will do so again tonight. This will be his third start against the Red Sox this year, and the previous two have been very similar: both six inning, three run efforts. I’d take that again. (Stats vs. Red Sox)

RHP Tanner Houck (141 ERA+)

The sinkerballing righty has split time between Triple-A and the majors for the Sox this season. This will be his fifth game and third start for Boston in 2021. He notched a three inning save against the Yanks last week, in which he retired 9 of 11 batters faced. (Stats vs. Yankees)

Houck.

Tomorrow, 7:10pm eastern

RHP Gerrit Cole (164 ERA+)

The Yankees’ ace has looked much sharper of late. Last weekend, he tossed a rain-shortened six inning complete game win against the Red Sox, which was on the heels of his traditional complete game (and shutout) against Houston right before the All-Star break. (Stats vs. Red Sox)

LHP Eduardo Rodríguez (90 ERA+)

It’s been a tough year for the southpaw returning from myocarditis, a complication he suffered from COVID-19, but he’s had no issue dispatching the Yankees. E-Rod has a 2.65 ERA in three starts against the Yanks and a 5.76 ERA against everyone else this year. Maybe the fourth time will be the charm. (Stats vs. Yankees)

Rodríguez.

Saturday, 4:05pm eastern

RHP Jameson Taillon (94 ERA+)

Taillon blanked Boston over 5.1 innings in his last start and has been much better of late in general. He has a 2.86 ERA in his last six starts (34.2 innings). It’s taken a while, but perhaps the Yankees bet on him is starting to pay off. (Stats vs. Red Sox)

RHP Nathan Eovaldi (130 ERA+)

Eovaldi has given his former club fits this season, allowing just four runs (three earned) in 18.2 frames. The righty has really blossomed in Boston overall, and owns a 3.57 ERA and 2.59 FIP in 108.1 innings this year. (Stats vs. Yankees)

Eovaldi.

Sunday, 1:10pm eastern

RHP Domingo Germán (92 ERA+)

After throwing four innings against Philadelphia a couple days ago, Germán should be stretched out to make a pretty normal start in the series finale. He had been out of the rotation since June 30th before rejoining the rotation this week. (Stats vs. Red Sox)

LHP Martín Pérez (112 ERA+)

Pérez is one of the few Boston pitchers who hasn’t pitched well against New York in 2021. He’s given up six runs (three earned) in 7.2 frames across two starts. The southpaw owns a 4.16 ERA on the season though, so he’s been decent otherwise. (Stats vs. Yankees)

Pérez.

Bullpen Status

PitcherWednesdayTuesdayMonday
Matt Barnes11
Adam Ottavino1611
Hirokazu Sawamura2
Josh Taylor (L)
Darwinzon Hernández (L)19
Garrett Whitlock19
Brandon Workman
YackselRíos
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Game 95: one step forward, three steps back

2 Comments

  1. Esteddardban Florial

    It’s a must take 3 out of 4, Derek. The Cole start is a must win. It’ll be tough to beat Eovaldi(thanks Cash) which means the other two are must wins. I don’t like Monty having to give us length tonight but that’s what it’s come to. Green will close and Cessa/Leutge will set up. We need Loisaga back tonight and Nestor tomorrow. Duct tape Nick Nelson to the Green Monster and let the birds have at him. That’s one Yankee reliever the Sox can have.

  2. Esteddardban Florial

    It’s a must win 3 out of 4, Derek. The Cole start is a must win. Eovaldi is tough to beat which means the other two are must wins. We need Loisaga back tonight and Nestor back tomorrow. I don’t like Monty having to give us length but we just don’t have any arms left in the pen. Green will close tonight and Cessa/Leutge will set up. Duct tape Nick Nelson to the Green Monster and leave him there. That’s one Yankee reliever the Sox can have.

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