The Yankees, who have a four-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East, start a three-game series against the Orioles tonight at Yankee Stadium. This is an important series because with a sweep they could have a seven-game lead over Baltimore, who is likely the most talented overall team besides the Yankees in the division.
Coming into this series, the Yankees have won six of their last eight games and they are coming off of winning two of three games against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees pitched well overall in that series as the Mariners scored seven runs combined and didn’t score more than three runs in any game.
The bullpen has been a strength for the Yankees this season and that was the case against the Mariners as well. The bullpen combined to throw eight scoreless innings and strikeout nine batters during the three-game series. That is one area of the team that definitely does not need to be improved before the trade deadline.
Offense is a strength for both the Yankees and Orioles. Baltimore is fourth out of 15 teams in the American League with 113 homers, they are fourth in the AL with a .257 average and fourth with a .423 slugging percentage. The Yankees, on the other hand, are second in the league with 418 runs scored, tied for second in the AL with 120 homers and are also second in the league with 398 RBIs.
The Orioles have a better rotation than the Yankees, but New York has a better record because of their better overall lineup and bullpen. Chris Young, who was signed to a one-year contract in November, will start tonight and has been a key addition because he plays a solid right field and has an outstanding .360 average in 86 at-bats against lefties with six homers, 14 RBIs and a 1.101 OPS.
Overall, Young has a .251 average in 215 at-bats with 11 homers, 27 RBIs, 33 runs scored and a .773 OPS. “I would think against every lefty we face he will be in there,” Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees will be facing a lefty tonight in Wei-Yin Chen. He has the best ERA (2.78) of any Orioles starter and during his three July starts he has an impressive 2.35 ERA with a 0.85 WHIP. Nathan Eovaldi will get the start for the Yankees and his 4.50 ERA is second lowest out of the five starters in the rotation, but Eovaldi has a 2.87 ERA in three July starts and has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his last five starts.
According to STATS, Chen has a 1.95 ERA during his five consecutive quality starts, while Eovaldi is 4-0 with a 2.93 ERA in his last five starts. Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann have been run producers in the middle of the lineup so far this season and the Yankees will need that to continue during this series. The Yankees will look to win their fifth straight series before they go on a 10-game road trip.
Here are the pitching matchups for this series against the Orioles:
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (9-2, 4.50)
LHP Wei-Yin Chen (4-5, 2.78)
7:05 p.m., WPIX and MLB Network
RHP Ivan Nova (1-3, 3.42)
RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 5.00)
7:05 p.m., YES Network and ESPN
RHP Masahiro Tanaka (6-3, 3.65)
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (7-5, 3.29)
1:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network