Series Preview 6/29-6/30, London Edition: Boston Red Sox

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The Yankees are taking on the rival Boston Red Sox this weekend for a two-game set in London. Steven has you covered on all the new rules (26 men!), field dimensions (it’s basically a little league park), and all the odds and ends you might want, so check that out. Let’s get right into it.

Their Story Thus Far

We last saw Boston at the beginning of the month, when the Yanks took 2 of 3 from them in the Bronx. The last game of that series was the now-infamous Clint Frazier defense game. Boston has played 23 games since then, going 14-9 (.608) in that period. They’re 44-38 (.537) overall and sit 9 games back of the first-place Yankees, 10 on the loss side. They’re 2.5 games (3 on the loss side) behind Tampa Bay and 1.5 (2 on the loss side) behind Texas and Cleveland in the AL Wild Card race.

Offensively, they hit .266/.342/.450 (105 wRC+) as a team, which is tied with Atlanta for 7th in baseball. Their batting average is ranked 5th in the league, their OBP is tied for 2nd with Houston, their slugging ranks 10th, their BB% is tied for 3rd and their K% is 7th lowest. Boston is not having the same year as last year by any means, and they’ve delightfully looked downright bad at times, but don’t sleep on this offense. They can hit, even if they lack the pop of some of their rivals (they rank 14th in HR).

Their pitching, though, has been more inconsistent. Their 4.30 ERA ranks 13th but their 3.95 FIP ranks 4th best (are they getting unlucky?). They strike out a greater percentage (26.3%) of opposing batters than anyone but Houston and only 10 teams walk more batters (8.4%). They give up fewer HR/9 than all but 8 teams and only 13.5% of their allowed fly balls leave the yard, which ranks 6th.

Although their relievers have been better than expected without Craig Kimbrel (their 3.0 fWAR ranks 7th), new bullpen ace Matt Barnes has struggled. He’s blown 6 saves this year, and he’s really struggled of late. Friend of the Blog™ Matt Collins of the great Over The Monster got into that here. Another Friend of the Blog™, HPJoker, also of Over The Monster, explored how the decision to pass up Kimbrel is coming back to bite the team. Make sure to check that out.

Injury Report

Andrew Benintendi is day-to-day with a leg injury. Steve Pearce (back) is on the 10-day IL, so he won’t be bothering us for once. Mitch Moreland (quadriceps) is on the 10-day IL and began hitting last week. Hector Velazquez (back) is also on the 10-day IL but will travel with the team to London. Nathan Eovaldi (elbow), who led the Sox to a title last year to torture me personally, was recently transferred to the 60-day IL on Tuesday.

Heath Hembree (forearm) is on the 10-day IL and hasn’t begun a rehab assignment. Dustin Pedroia (knee) is on the 60-day IL and is currently “evaluating everything.” Brock Holt \o/ is dealing with a hamstring injury but is not on the IL.

Player Spotlight: Mookie Betts

I am sometimes so deep in the Yankee bubble that I forget that other fanbases are also off-the-rails, too. Today’s reminder comes from New England, where a group of absolutely insane fans thinks that trading Mookie Betts is the best course of action for Boston. Of course, this is the analogous group to the Traid Stanton!11! crew over here in New York.

(Side note: as a Yankee fan who grew up in Massachusetts and has followed almost every Yankee game since I’ve been 7 years old, I think it’s a great idea for Boston to trade Mookie Betts, which shows you the quality of the argument there.)

Matt Collins again addressed this here, so check out his very amusing thoughts on this. But it did make me go check Betts’ season. Here is the season he’s having: .261/.379/.459 (119 wRC+) with a very low 15.6% K%, a very high 14.6% BB rate, and 13 home runs. He’s been worth, already, 2.3 fWAR. This is a down year for him. I don’t really care for these charts (they’re not as visually representative of the statistics as they seem), but, yeah:

Anyway, pretty clear that Betts sucks. Boston should trade him, either out of the American League or to the Yankees. For their own good, of course.

Potential Lineup

As you might expect, Boston’s lineup is just as top-heavy as last year, but it’s still intimidating. That front 4 can hit. On the positive side, Núñez is having a terrible year, and that rules after he, like nemesis Eovaldi, played a big role in the Sox WS win last year. Sigh.

  1. Mookie Betts, RF: .261/.379/.459 (119 wRC+)
  2. Rafael Devers, 3B: .322/.373/.524 (132 wRC+)
  3. Xander Boegarts, SS: .298/.389/.534 (139 wRC+)
  4. J.D. Martinez, OF/DH: .287/.364/.528 (128 wRC+)
  5. Jackie Bradley Jr., OF: .220/.326/.388 (86 wRC+)
  6. Michael Chavis, 1B/2B: .263/.336/.449 (104 wRC+)
  7. Marco Hernandez, 2B/3B: .250/.270/.417 (74 wRC+)
  8. Eduardo Núñez, 3B/SS: .236/.253/.318 (43 wRC+)
  9. Sandy León, C: .195/.272/.293 (48 wRC+)

Sam Travis will serve as the 26th man while Hector Velázquez and Óscar Hernández will be on the “taxi squad” for Boston in London. See the rest of their roster here.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Saturday (1:10 pm EST): Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 3.21 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (5-7, 4.52 ERA)

No surprises with Rick Porcello, at this point. He’s 10-9 (.526) with a 3.32 ERA against New York in 23 games in her career. The Yankees hit .243/.292/.372 (.664 OPS) off him.

He throws a soft fastball with good spin, sinker, curveball, slider and change. Here’s his usage graph for 2019:

He’s struggled a little of late, with a 4.75 ERA (3.09 FIP) in his last 5 starts. Here’s his rolling xWOBA:

And here’s his Statcast profile:

For some reason, Porcello drives me insane and I want the Yankees to absolutely crush him this weekend, so let’s get on that.

Sunday (10:10 am EST): TBD (likely Chad Green) vs. Eduardo Rodríguez (8-4, 4.87 ERA)

Rodríguez is 5-4 (.555) with a 3.89 ERA against the Yankees in his career. The Yankees hit .259/.332/.449 (.781 OPS) off him.

He throws a soft fastball with below-average spin, sinker, cutter, slider, and changeup. Here’s his usage graph for 2019:

He’s 3-1 with a 4.55 ERA (5.27 FIP) in his last 5 starts. Here’s his rolling xWOBA:

And here’s his Statcast profile:

He doesn’t bother me as much but the Yanks should still crush him, because why not?

Notes

Let’s bury them, shall we? Would be nice to see the Yanks show no mercy and continue to bury Boston in the standings. Playing in a little league park should help the Yankees sluggers (who need no help), but it will also hurt the pitching staff (which needs no help giving up home runs). In any case, let’s bury Boston. An 11 game deficit (12 on the loss side) would make for a nice Transatlantic flight home.

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6 Comments

  1. CountryClub

    Each player on this trip is making an extra 60k. Nice little payday for guys like Estrada and Adams.

  2. CountryClub

    After today’s game, Sevy will have missed half the season with a lat strain. And, if you haven’t heard, he’s being shut down again for at least a week.

  3. Betts is having an All Star, not All World season this year. If I squint, I can see the logic in trading Betts because:

    He has been reluctant to sign a favorable extension

    He makes $20 mil this year, and;

    His last year of arb is next season.

    That said, Sox fans (like all fans) should always want as many great players as they can get. Leave the financial concerns to the front office bean counters.

    In this new era of billionaire austerity, I wonder how many owners would be in on Betts and what they would be willing to give up?

    • CountryClub

      A lot of the fans that I’ve seen call for his trade want the Sox to mimic what the yanks did with Chapman. Trade him for a huge haul and then sign him back in 18 months.

      • RetroRob

        The problem with that is they’re a good team looking to make a deep postseason run this year.

      • I get it. I also think 18 months is a lifetime in baseball. Sox probably should get a couple relievers and take their chances now with Betts this year and next.

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