Tonight starts another four game series with the Orioles, this time in Baltimore. Camden Yards is a fun place for the Yankees to hit and the Orioles have only won two of their last eleven. That said, the Yankees again face Andrew Cashner tonight and he has pitched really well in three of his last four outings. Cashner has struck out twenty batters in his last sixteen innings. The team lost all four of those games, however, and Cashner is pretty much a lock to allow at least one home run in every game. JA Happ will need to be in better form as Cashner should keep his team in the game.
Tomorrow is a much better match up for the Yankees as Domingo German looks to continue his winning ways against the gopher-yielding David Hess. The rest of the series pitchers have not been announced but the Yankees will probably see Dylan Bundy late in the week and he was really great in his last start.
The Yankees need at least three wins in this series and a sweep would be fantastic. A split would be a major disappointment against such a highly struggling team.
The Kansas City Royals have just as many losses (31) as the Orioles. The Royals have lost nine of their last thirteen games. The Royals have many nice pieces. Alex Gorden is having a nice season and loves batting against the Yankees. Hunter Dozier and Whitt Merrifield are accomplished hitters having good seasons. And it appears that Adalberto Mondesi is a blossoming star at shortstop. Jorge Solar is a three-outcome hitter and leads the team in homers. But he has already struck out over 60 times.
The real loss for the Royals was Salvador Perez. His loss to Tommy John Surgery for the season seriously weakened them. His replacements, Martin Maldonado and Cam Gallagher, have been black holes at the plate. Think Austin Romine but much worse. Not a pretty picture, eh?
First base has also been a real problem for the Royals. Lucas Duda was not hitting and is now hurt. His replacement, Ryan O'Hearn has not yet found his Big League stroke.
Overall the Royals are ninth in the AL in offense. Not terrible but not great either. It is a team that likes to run and they lead the AL in caught stealing. But the Yankees have problems with base runners.
The starting pitching is where the Royals break down. They do not have a shut down starter or power arms. Only two teams in the AL have walked more batters and only one has given up more hits. Danny Duffy never became the star the Royals hoped he'd be, but he is probably the team's best starter.
The bullpen has three guys (old friend, Ian Kennedy is one) having decent seasons, but whenever there is a Wily Peralta to exploit then the bullpen does not scare you. They do not strike out a lot of batters (except for Jake Diekman) and the team's five saves are the lowest in the AL. It has been a bit sad to see Brad Boxberger's comeback effort not producing anything positive.
Like the Orioles series, a two out of three outcome against the Royals would be acceptable. A sweep would be awesome. Losing two out of three would be a major disappointment. The Yankees should go 5-2 this week. They very well could win six of seven or even all seven. But 5-2 will do it.
What to watch for this week
- With a long stretch of games without a day off, how many off days will Aaron Boone and company give his players? I think there will be more than what is comfortable. And it will continue to give me constipation.
- Clint Frazier has been stone cold since he came back from the DL. He was so hot before the ankle sprain. It is a shame. Frazier needs to hit.
- CC Sabathia needs two more wins to reach 250 for his career. I really feel like that is an important number for him to reach. Run support has been difficult in his starts. The Yankees need to get this done! 249 this week!?
- The Red Sox are playing the Blue Jays and Astros this week. They already picked up a win today. They should win four games this week.
- The Bay Rays have a tough week against the Dodgers and Indians. They might have difficulty winning four games this week.
- Five wins will extend the Yankees' hold on first place.