The Yankees, who lost two out of three games in their series at the Rogers Centre to the Blue Jays, will start a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. Losing the series to the Blue Jays gave the Yankees a 3.5-game deficit in the AL East with 11 games left, which means that their chance of winning the division is highly unlikely. (The Yankees would have to get help from Toronto and would have to win about eight of their games.)
The Yankees (83-68) currently have a 4-game lead for the first wild card spot, which means they are on track to hosting the Houston Astros, the Minnesota Twins or the Anaheim Angels in a one-game playoff for the right to play in the ALDS. Houston is currently the second wild card with an 80-73 record, the Minnesota Twins are one-game behind the Astros and the Anaheim Angels are 1.5 games behind the Astros.
The best matchup for the Yankees would be if they end up playing the Twins in the wild card game. The Twins No. 1 starter is not nearly as good as the No. 1 starters on the Angels or Astros, and the Yankees had a lot of success when playing against Minnesota. However, the Yankees need to win three or four games during this upcoming series against Chicago to keep their slim chance of winning the AL East alive.
In tonight’s game, hyped prospect Rob Refsnyder will get his first start since he went 0-3 against the Mariners on July 18. He was sent back down to Triple-A Scranton after that game and before tonight’s game has only had two at-bats this month. Refsnyder will try to live up to the offensive success he has had in the minor leagues the last few years, but he will be getting a challenging matchup tonight as he will be facing Chris Sale, who is one of the best pitchers in the American League.
Back-up catcher John Ryan Murphy will get the start for Brian McCann, Chris Young will get the start in left field because Sale is a lefty and Young has performed very well against lefties this season, Brendan Ryan will get the start at shortstop for Didi Gregorius and Dustin Ackley will get the start at first. Greg Bird, who is on an 8-game hitting streak, has started at first in the last nine games. Gregorius has started every game at shortstop since July 25, when Ryan got the start at short.
Michael Pineda, who will start tonight’s game, allowed zero runs and struck out four in 5.1 innings in his last start against the Mets. That was his third time this season that he hasn’t allowed a run and his first since July 4 against the Rays. He bounced back well since he had given up four runs in each of his last two starts before that start against the Mets.
Pineda is a very effective pitcher when he throws his slider where he wants it to go and the Yankees need him to locate that pitch tonight. Here are the pitching matchups for the series against the White Sox:
RHP Michael Pineda (11-8, 4.10)
LHP Chris Sale (12-10, 3.47)
7:05 p.m. YES Network and MLB Network
LHP CC Sabathia (5-9, 4.80)
LHP Carlos Rodon (8-6, 3.78)
7:05 p.m., YES Network
RHP Adam Warren (6-7, 3.46)
LHP John Danks (7-13, 4.59)
4:05 p.m., WPIX
RHP Luis Severino (4-3, 3.10)
RHP Jeff Samardzija (10-13, 5.04)
1:05 p.m., YES Network