Up. The Yankees have hit some hard times of late, but those are all relative and right now they are not in the midst of that kind of stretch. After dropping three of their first five games coming out of the break, the Yankees have taken care of business against the Royals and Orioles, winning four of their last five. They have a chance to make it five of six today against Baltimore.
8/2: Brian Johnson vs. CC Sabathia, 7:10 PM ET
This was originally supposed to be a Sale Day and exactly how the Red Sox wanted to kick off this Yankees series, but then the ace was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday. Now, it’s a Brian Johnson day and things don’t feel quite as nice. Obviously, the lefty is not as good as Sale and the expectations aren’t close to the same level, but he has been very good in the rotation of late. In five starts since joining the group, he has yet to allow more than two runs in any given start and owns a 1.88 ERA over 24 innings. He’s walked a fine line to do so, to be fair, but his command has been good enough that the weak contact he’s allowing is sustainable. Johnson has made three relief appearances against New York this year and has tossed 4 2⁄3 scoreless innings on five strikeouts, a walk and two hits.
Sabathia is, of course, somewhat famously a Red Sox kryptonite, and his transformation over the last few years in general has been one of the more remarkable stories in baseball. The veteran certainly doesn’t pitch like he did in his prime, but his changes are working in 2018 with a 3.53 ERA, though both FIP (4.58) and DRA (5.12) don’t see that being legitimate. The key for Sabathia is keeping weak contact and limiting damage, because he only misses an average-at-best amount of bats and his walk and home runs are also about average. He did struggle in his last two outings before the All-Star break, but he allowed one a two runs against the Royals his last time out. He did only last 4 2⁄3 innings, however. The Red Sox did get to Sabathia for four runs in four innings earlier in the year, but in June he shut them down to the tune of one run in seven innings. Sabathia will throw a low-90s two-seam fastball along with a cutter, a slider and a changeup.
8/3: Rick Porcello vs. Luis Severino, 7:10 PM ET
This becomes a really big start for Porcello, as it’s safe to assume Johnson won’t go too deep into the first game. That’s not to say it’s guaranteed the lefty will get lit up, but rather acknowledging that he has yet to go at least six innings in a start and has generally been lifted in the fifth or after five. Boston will likely need Porcello to go deep, and while that’s usually a safe better with him he always has the potential to blow up and has been a rollercoaster of late. Over his last three starts, he has one in which he was lifted after two innings and eight runs allow, one with seven shutout innings and one with four runs in 5 2⁄3 innings. So, who knows what to expect. In April, Porcello tossed seven dominant, shutout innings against the Yankees, and then in May he allowed five runs in five innings.
It wasn’t too long ago that Severino was looked at as a potential Cy Young favorite in the American League. His season-long numbers are still great and the talent is very much still in that right arm, but he’s been trending in the wrong direction of late. Over his last four starts, the Yankees ace has tossed just 19 1⁄3 innings (fewer than five innings per start) with an 8.84 ERA. His 19/4 K/BB ratio is still solid, but he’s allowed seven homers and just a lot of general hard contact. The Red Sox will hope that trend continues on Friday. Boston scored five runs in five innings off Severino back in April, then just two in six innings in May before getting shutout over 6 2⁄3 innings to start July. Severino throws a 98 mph fastball, a sick slider as well as a changeup.
8/4: Nathan Eovaldi vs. J.A. Happ, 4:05 PM ET
Eovaldi has a hell of a matchup for his second start in a Red Sox uniform, facing the Yankees in what is sure to be a massive game, either to keep the surging Yankees at bay in the standings or to push them further out of it. A former Yankee himself, the righty is a different pitcher than he was in those days and he showed off just how good he can be in a dominant Red Sox debut. We can’t expect him to do that every time out, but Eovaldi’s ability to pound the zone as well as his impressive new splitter make him a tough matchup for anyone when he’s on. He did face the Yankees earlier in the year and allowed five runs over 7 1⁄3 innings.
The Red Sox are using their newly acquired starter on Saturday, and the Yankees are countering with their own. At least, that’s the plan. Happ was recently sent away from the team with hand foot and mouth disease, but they still expect him to suit up on Saturday. The lefty and former Blue Jay has been fine on the whole this year, with good runs and bad runs. His first start with the Yankees went extremely well, holding Kansas City to one run over six innings. Boston has seen Happ twice this year, being held to one run over seven innings in April before scoring five (unearned) runs against Happ in just 3 2⁄3 innings a couple weeks back. Happ throws a pair of low-90s fastballs as well as a changeup and a slider.