The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox have one of the longest rivalries in Major League Baseball and a new chapter will be written this weekend when the teams get together at Fenway Park for a weekend set.
The first game is on Friday and will have a 7:10 p.m. ET first pitch with Domingo German for the visiting Yankees and Martin Perez for the host Red Sox. This was certainly an interesting line for the sportsbooks to set, but we see German lined as a slight favorite here based on the initial line and some action on the Bronx Bombers.
Bovada Sportsbook shows Yankees -125 for this one with a total of 10.5 as runs could be in the forecast in Beantown.
New York Yankees
The Yankees have a lot of positive indicators on offense, but sports are a bottom-line business. It’s all about results, not promise and potential. The Yankees have not lived up to their offensive potential this season and have a worse record than they should as a result.
In terms of contact quality, few teams, if any, are better than the Yankees at hitting the ball hard. However, a lot of teams are much better offensively than the Yanks. What gives? Well, the Yankees have one of the highest ground ball percentage rates in baseball at over 45%. It is hard to get extra-base hits on ground balls and those worm-burners can sometimes be a waste of hard contact because the field slows them down.
The Yankees are also one of the absolute worst teams in baseball with runners in scoring position. They went into action on Friday ranked 28th in wOBA in that split and that was only because of a high walk rate. The Yankees have a higher OBP with RISP than SLG, so they have not capitalized on a lot of their chances to score runs, thus putting increased strain on the pitching staff.
Domingo German gets the call on Friday for the Yankees. He missed all of 2020 serving a suspension stemming from a domestic incident. He has pitched well in 69 innings with a 4.17 ERA. It would be lower, but he has allowed 14 home runs in his 13 starts. His K and BB numbers are quite solid, but the long ball has been his problem. Fortunately for him, 11 of the 14 home runs have been solo shots.
Recently, German has struggled, allowing 11 runs on 17 hits in his last 8.1 innings of work. Interestingly, German has actually seen upticks in his fastball spin rate since the MLB crackdown, so he hasn’t fallen victim to any of that noise, but his changeup has not been as sharp and his recent fastball velocity has tailed off a bit. We could be looking at a mechanical issue or some sort of injury indicator here.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox offense was so strong in April and the first part of May that it looked like Boston was all of the sudden the team to beat in the AL East. Things have changed and the Red Sox have leveled off, both from a wins and losses standpoint, but also an offensive standpoint.
Entering play on Thursday, Boston was in the middle of the pack offensively in both wOBA and wRC+ for the last 30 days. An increase in strikeouts was partially to blame, but also a decrease in walks. The Red Sox played a very weak schedule early in the season and took full advantage of playing some teams that simply aren’t very good. The Red Sox have played the Rays, Royals, Braves, Jays, Astros, Yankees, and Astros in series since the start of June.
That type of gauntlet would hurt anybody’s numbers. While the offensive decreases are indeed worrisome, the Red Sox pitching staff has really felt the biggest impact. Entering play on Thursday, Boston ranked 23rd in ERA over the last 30 days and had a HR/FB% of 16.6%. What made Boston so good early in the year was avoiding the long ball, but that has not happened with better opposing lineups.
Martin Perez has a 4.32 ERA with a 4.40 FIP in his 66.2 innings of work. The left-hander has been one of those struggling Boston pitchers of late. He rebounded nicely with five good innings against the Royals last time out, but had allowed 11 runs on 12 hits in his previous two starts while recording only 10 outs.
Perez was certainly a regression candidate, but those two starts really drove up his ERA and associated metrics. Over his last five starts, Perez has only struck out 13 batters out of 95 faced. He’s playing with a lot of fire right now. The question is whether or not the Yankees can burn him.
Yankees vs. Red Sox Free Pick
The Yankees certainly seem to have a much higher upside the rest of the way, but what about in this individual game? Well, we know that the Yankees will put a lot of balls in play against the Red Sox and Boston has a suspect defense at best. German has had some command issues this season with the home run, but the Red Sox have only hit 39 home runs at home this season. They are ninth in SLG, but not exactly because of the long ball.
New York looks like the side to take in this game.