Boston Red Sox Series Preview: September 24 to September 26

It is time for the most important series of the year. After yesterday’s much needed off-day following the 20 game in 20 day stretch, the Yankees shipped up to Boston for a crucial weekend series that has huge Wild Card implications. The Yankees are riding high going into this one following the sweep of Texas, and believe it or not, they are 7-3 in their last 10 games. I don’t know about you, but that sweep was quite calming after the debacle against Cleveland over the weekend. The Yankees find themselves 2 games back of Boston for that first Wild Card spot, so let’s hope they can take care of business this weekend and either tighten up that race or outright take the first spot for themselves.

Their Story So Far

It’s been an interesting season in Beantown. The Sox started out hot exceeding everyone’s expectations leading the division through most of the summer. Their division odds were well over 75% at some points, but they struggled after the trade deadline ceding control of the AL East to Tampa. Two weeks ago, their playoff odds were all the way down to 63%, but they have gone on a 7 game winning streak to boost those odds back up to 98%. Crucially for our viewing pleasure, they have worn their yellow city connect jerseys during the streak and will continue to do so until they lose. Here’s hoping that happens tonight.

The Sox offense has been incredible all year long. They rank top 5 in average, on-base %, OPS, and runs. They are 9th in homers and do not steal bases, ranking 28th in that category. The offense is led by Xander Bogaerts (137 wRC+), Rafael Devers (131 wRC+), J.D. Martinez (128 wRC+) and surging trade deadline acquisition Kyle schwarber (163 wRC+ since the trade).

Their pitching overall is their weakness. They rank bottom 5 in WHIP and H/9, 18th in starter’s ERA, though they limit homers and strike guys out (8th in both). Nathan Eovaldi (5.5 fWAR) and Eduardo Rodriguez (3.3 fWAR) have led the way, and Chris Sale is back from Tommy John surgery, though the Yankees avoid seeing him this series.

Their bullpen is also middle of the road ranking 10th in ERA, 23rd in WHIP and BB/9. They again strike guys out (5th) and limit homers (9th). It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can avoid the strikeouts because teams have success against this pitching staff when they make contact.

Injury Report

The Red Sox had a COVID outbreak over the last month and still have some players coming back from it.

PlayerPositionInjuryRoster StatusExpected Return
Yairo MuñozOF/INFCOVID-19CV-19 ILAfter 9/25
Danny SantanaOF/1BCOVID-19CV-19 ILAfter 9/25
Phillips VladezRPCOVID-19CV-19 ILAfter 9/28
Garrett WhitlockRPPectoral10-Day ILAfter 9/30
Matt CarasitiRPElbow60-Day ILOut for season

Player Spotlight: Bobby Dalbec

It has been a tale of two seasons for Dalbec, who has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball since August 1. Since then, he’s slashing .319/.409/.731 with a 197 wRC+ which is the highest in the AL and trails just Bryce Harper and Juan Soto in all of MLB.

This messy chart from FanGraphs helps show why:

What you say there is his rolling 15-game averages for wOBA, fly-ball %, and K%. Basically, Dalbec has been hitting more balls in the air and striking out less which has led to his ridiculous performance of late. During the first half of the season, he was hitting more balls on the ground than in the air (1.2 ratio) which as we all know from watching the Yankees hit into 17,000 double plays this year is a recipe for disaster. In the 2nd half, that ratio is 0.8. And, as a righty hitter in Fenway Park, pulled fly balls very likely hit off the monster for extra-base hits. Dalbec was previously one of the easier outs in this Red Sox lineup, but no more.

Projected Lineup

  1. Enrique Hernández, 2B (.251/.336/.452, 110 wRC+)
  2. Kyle Schwarber, LF (.297/.431/.541, 163 wRC+) – in 32 games with Boston
  3. Xander Bogaerts, SS (.304/.374/.515, 137 wRC+)
  4. Rafael Devers, 3B (.275/.351/.528, 131 wRC+)
  5. J.D. Martinez, DH (.287/.349/.519, 128 wRC+)
  6. Alex Verdugo, CF (.290/.355/.432, 110 wRC+)
  7. Hunter Renfroe, RF (.262/.20/.503, 116 wRC+)
  8. Bobby Dalbec, 1B (.247/.307/.499, 112 wRC+) – includes his poor first half
  9. Christian Vázquez, C (.263/.314/.356, 81 wRC+)

Bench

  • Kevin Plawecki, C (.280/.337/.367, 92 wRC+)
  • Travis Shaw, 1B/3B (.250/.325/.583, 138 wRC+)
  • Christian Arroyo, INF (.261/.320/.447, 106 wRC+)
  • José Iglesias, INF (.378/.452/.622, 189 wRC+) – in 14 games

Pitching Matchups

Tonight 7:10pm EDT

RHP Nathan Eovaldi (10-8, 3.58 ERA)

Eovaldi actually leads the AL in fWAR thanks to a shiny 2.72 FIP. In 4 starts against the Yankees, he hasn’t given up more than 2 runs any time out. Let’s see that change tonight (Stats vs. NYY).

RHP Gerrit Cole (15-8, 3.03 ERA)

Cole looks to bounce back from his worst start of the season. In 3 starts against Boston this year, he hasn’t gone more than 6 innings in any. Let’s hope he makes a statement tonight that pushes him back to the forefront of the AL Cy Young race (Stats vs. BOS).

Eovaldi

Saturday 4:10pm EDT

RHP Nick Pivetta (9-7, 4.63 ERA)

Pivetta didn’t make it out of the 2nd inning in his lone start against the Yankees this year. More of the same please. He is the weak spot in this weekend’s rotation (Stats vs. NYY).

LHP Néstor Cortes Jr. (2-2, 2.79 ERA)

True Yankee ace #NastyNestor hasn’t started against the Sox this year. Will be interesting how they fare against his unconventional stuff (Stats vs. BOS).

Pivetta

Sunday 7:08pm EDT

LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (11-8, 4.97 ERA)

ERod has had success against the Bombers this year lasting into the 6th in 3 of his 4 starts against them, with above average game scores in those. (Stats vs. NYY).

LHP Jordan Montgomery (6-6, 3.55 ERA)

Monty has been incredible this year, and has given up 3 runs in both his outings against the Sox this year. Sadly, the Yankees rarely score more than 3 runs in his starts (Stats vs. BOS).

Rodriguez

Bullpen Status

PitcherThursday (off)WednesdayTuesdayMonday (off)
Hansel Robles12
Garrett Richards21
Matt Barnes21
Adam Ottavino15
Darwinzon Hernandez12
Hirokazu Sawamura
Tanner Houck
Josh Taylor18
Ryan Brasier87
Austin Davis15
Martin Pérez10

There’s a strong forecast for rain tonight, so we’ll see when they play the games. Enjoy, and let’s go Yankees!

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1 Comment

  1. Jersey Jerry

    Just wondering why the Sox are lining up Eovaldi for the Wild Card game and not Sale? I know that both the Yanks’ and Jays’ hitters are very right-handed but if I were a Sox fan (which I am not) I would feel better with Sale pitching a winner take all game.

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