By: Ross Sutton
It feels like this whole season has been building up to an epic Yankees/Red Sox playoff series, and here it is. These two rivals will start their best-of-five series tonight in Boston, as Chris Sale (2.11 ERA) and J.A. Happ (3. 65 ERA) take the mound for their respective teams. The season series between these two teams was pretty evenly split, as Boston won 10 of the 19 regular matchups. Not to make excuses for the Yankees, but during the four-game series when they were swept by Boston, Aaron Judge was on the DL with a fractured wrist. Both teams are healthy now though, so let’s take a closer look into this matchup.
The two biggest advantages for the Red Sox in this series will be the fact that they have home-field advantage, and Chris Sale, who had an extremely low 2.11 ERA this season. The biggest thing for the Red Sox in years past has been that their top players have not performed well in the postseason, as they have lost in the ALDS each of the last two years. The Red Sox did face the Indians and Astros though, who both went to (and the Astros won) the World Series the years that Boston played them in the playoffs. The Red Sox two top starting pitchers, Chris Sale and David Price, have postseason ERAs of 8.38 and 5.08, respectively. To be fair though, Chris Sale has only pitched 9.2 innings in the postseason. David Price on the other hand, has pitched 73.1 innings in the postseason, so he has established that does not pitch well in the playoffs. Not only does Price not pitch well in the playoffs, but he pitches even worse against the Yankees. Since he has been on the Red Sox, Price has an ERA of 7.71 against the Yankees. If David Price starts two games against the Yankees in this series, Boston might be handing the Yankees the series. If Boston is going to get over the hump and win in the ALDS, they need their two top pitchers to perform better than they have in postseasons past.
The Yankees have all the momentum coming into this series, as they took two of three from the Red Sox in the last series of the regular season, and won the AL Wild Card game fairly easily against the A’s. Not only this, but the Yankees didn’t use starting pitchers J.A. Happ or Masahiro Tanaka in the Wild Card game, meaning each of them will be able to start two games in this series. Tanaka was unhittable in last year’s postseason, so he does not seem to be fazed by the bright lights. I also feel very confident in Happ in this series, as he has been great against the Red Sox this year, as he has a 1.99 ERA in four starts against the league’s top offense this season. I think in this specific matchup, the Yankees have the better group of starting pitchers compared to the Red Sox. The Yankees’ bullpen is also clearly superior to the Red Sox, so Boston will need their league-best offense to show up in a big way if they are going to take down the Yankees in the ALDS.
Final Prediction: Yankees in 4
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