Records Entering Series: BOS (25-9, 1st in AL East), NYY (24-10, 2nd in AL East)
This series should be a doozy. The Boston Red Sox head into New York with STILL the best record in baseball, but the Yankees are inarguably the MLB’s hottest team, with a record of 15-1 in their last 16.
After a decade plus of relative dormancy, the bad blood between these two ball clubs is back, thanks in large part to the abundance of talent each team’s roster consists of and how tight the race for the division is expected to be this year.
With that being said, this is the first truly important series that the Sox have in 2018. Being on the road, Boston will likely be perfectly content with taking just 1 of 3 here, but, as always, will be shooting for a series win.
Hitters to Watch
BOS: Andrew Benintendi – Benintendi is the Boston hitter to watch once again, and again it’s not for the greatest of reasons. Yes, it’s still early, but at what point will Beni finally break out of his early season slump and string together a series of positive games? Although he leads the team in triples and walks, and ranks towards the top in runs and doubles, he’s still hitting just .244 with an uncharacteristic 24 K’s. Alex Cora still has enough faith in him to continue plugging him into the 2nd spot in the order, but one would have to assume that a bump down in the order will be warranted sometime soon if Benintendi doesn’t turn it around.
NYY: Gleyber Torres – The 21-year old phenom has lit up the MLB since being called up in mid-April. In 15 games, he’s batting .327/.357/.500 with 2 HR, 11 RBI and 7 runs scored. He’ll be getting his first taste of the big rivalry over the next 3 days, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to the increased pressure of a Red Sox-Yankees series.
Pitchers to Watch
BOS: David Price – Yet again, Price has become the wild card of sorts within the Red Sox rotation. When he’s on, he can be one of the most dominant starting pitchers in the MLB. When he’s off, though, he becomes a liability for a Boston team that is relying on strong performances from its #2. After 2 straight sub-par performances leading up to this one, it will be important to see if Price can indeed help lead this team to the promised land, or if he’s doomed to another year of mediocrity.
NYY: C.C. Sabathia – Though not quite the dominant force he once was in his heyday, Sabathia has been somewhat surprisingly excellent for the Bombers so far this year. He’s currently 2-0 with a 1.39 ERA.
Matchup to Watch: Mookie Betts vs. Didi Gregorius
While these two don’t directly face each other, per se, this will probably be the most entertaining clash of the series, assuming Betts is healthy enough to take his normal spot in right field (shoulder contusion).
Both players rank at or towards the very top of the MLB leaderboards for nearly every major offensive statistical categories. Gregorius’ home splits are extremely impressive, with the shortstop clearly benefitting from Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field, and Betts’ consistency in the leadoff spot for Boston has been the story of the year for the Red Sox so far.
This will be 2 early season MVP candidates battling to see who can shine the brightest, and it’s sure to be fun to watch.