Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Yankees Gave The Advantage Back To Boston

I warned the Yankees about Brock Holt before the game yesterday. The Yankees usually hold their own against the superstars. But the utility guys kick them around all the time. The guy has a 91 career OPS+ and he gets ten total bases in one game against the Yankees. Ah well, the fact is that once again, Luis Severino could not come up big in a playoff game. So he got David Priced by the Red Sox and from there, all hell broke loose.

So now the Yankees face elimination. They have to beat the best team in baseball two games in a row to advance. They lose tonight, they go home. And surprisingly, the Yankees have chosen CC Sabathia to start the game. While this seems a big gamble, it is not as if Sabathia hasn't been here before. He is 2018's Andy Pettitte trying to rally the day. But I thought sure that J.A. Happ would get the start. Boston is why the Yankees went and got him, right? That becomes moot if the Yankees go home.

On the other side, the Boston Red Sox will start, Rick Porcello, a pitcher who has made the Yankees look stupid on many an occasion. The Yankees had a lousy batting plan against Nathan Eovaldi and if they don't plan better against Porcello, they will go home. It is as simple as that. The Yankees cannot continue to try to pull the ball against these guys. Eovaldi will invade the dreams far into the winter.

Aaron Hicks is back. Is that a good thing? Can he play defense with a bad hammy? Can he play it as well as Brett Gardner? At least he will bat third and push Luke Voit down in the batting order. The Yankees got really carried away by batting Voit third yesterday. The guy is easy to love and all of that, but he is not a three-hole hitter and will bog down against good pitching. He is another guy who had all his success hitting the ball to right field and suddenly wants to pull everything now. Why do all Yankee players turn into that? Giancarlo Stanton? Gary Sanchez? Pull, pull, pull. Go the other way!!

The Yankees will win if they have a good plan against Porcello and get him early AND if CC Sabathia can survive four innings with less than three runs. The Yankees will lose in all other scenarios. But at least one shred of dignity will be left. Other than the Braves, the Yankees will be the only vanquished Division Series team that won at least once in the series.

Oh, and remember one thing. In 2004, the Yankees took a 3-0 series lead against the Red Sox by scoring 19 runs in the third game. They never won the fourth game. So anything is possible. It's just not probable.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Yankees Set Up Nicely Against Boston

In a series of five games with the Red Sox getting a home, home, away, away, home advantage, it was crucial that the New York Yankees win one of the games in Boston. Thanks to Boston's insistence of starting David Price, the Yankees accomplished the split up in Boston. That sets the team up nicely as the series becomes a best two-out-of-three contest with two of the games occurring at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees could not have given the team a better chance to upset this American League Division Series.

But that means little. The team still has to go out and beat Boston, a great team, and beat them both games in New York. The Yankees will not want to play a fifth and deciding game in Boston. The Red Sox are very capable of winning one or both of the next two games.

The good news is that the Yankees can start Luis Severino tonight and J.A. Happ tomorrow. The former gives the Yankees its best pure talent on the mound to take a lead in the series. The latter is a lefty, something always useful in Yankee Stadium, and Happ should be better than he was in Game 1.

What could go wrong? Plenty. Severino could come out wild or flat and get banged around. He has lost his pinpoint command that he displayed in all of the first half of the 2018 season. He struggles to get through four or five innings with high pitch counts and lots of tension. He still shows flashes of what can make him so dominant. It would be great if he could be efficient and go deep. If he can do neither, that can be a problem.

What else can go wrong? It has been absolutely galling to see Nathan Eovaldi throw sixteen scoreless innings against the Yankees since Boston picked him up from Tampa Bay. Yankee fans have to be totally befuddled by that development since Eovaldi was a subject of derision when he pitched for the Yankees.

Eovaldi's improvement is not a fluke. His biggest problem when he worked with the Yankees was that his pitches had no movement to go along with his velocity. Thus, a team knew what it was getting and could pound him. Now, it seems as if everything Eovaldi throws has great movement and with his velocity, that makes things difficult for a team that swings for the fences like the Yankees do.

What the Yankees need to do is look for a good first pitch fastball to hit and be aggressive. Later in the count, look to the opposite field as he will be throwing cutters away from the right-handed batters.

The Red Sox have announced some lineup changes for Game 3. Brock Holt, Rafael Devers, Christian Vazquez and Steve Pearce will be starting in place of Ian Kinsler,  Eduardo Nunez, Sandy Leon and Mitch Moreland (respectively).

The Red Sox lose defense without Leon, Kinsler and Moreland, but Holt has always been a pain in the neck for the Yankees and Devers has more power than Nunez though they are both sub-par on defense. Pearce has been a Yankee killer since forever. Yankee fans hate that guy.

The Yankees have put themselves in a very good position. But the Red Sox are terrific and rarely beat themselves. While certainly better than coming home down by two games, the task is still great and the odds of the Yankees winning this series are still 50/50.