The New York Yankees continue to be the talk of the baseball world, as they finished an impressive sweep of the Chicago Cubs this past weekend. All three wins were impressive in their own ways: one win with a go-ahead home run in the top of the 9th with two outs and two strikes, the second in blowout fashion, and the third in an 18 inning, grind it out victory on Sunday Night Baseball.
After an 18 inning battle on Sunday, fatigue will surely play a factor in the opener against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. The Yankees will rely on two of their veterans to give them innings in this quick two-game set. Here’s what you need to know.
Game 1: Masahiro Tanaka (4-1, 4.46 ERA) vs. Rookie Davis (1-1, 7.36 ERA)
Tanaka’s complete game shutout against Chris Sale and the Red Sox at Fenway is definitely his most impressive outing so far in 2017, but this one may be his most important. The Yanks emptied out their bullpen, using six out of their seven bullpen guys in 11 innings. This team needs Tanaka to go at least seven innings in order to give this bullpen a break. You have to figure Aroldis Chapman is not available for this game, even though he would probably enjoy going up against his old team.
Tanaka is going for his fifth straight win, as he has recorded a 2.51 ERA and struck out 18 in his last four starts. He will be going up against the rookie, Rookie Davis in his fifth career start. The Yankees actually drafted Davis back in 2015 and sent him to the Reds in part of the original Aroldis Chapman trade. With a 7.36 ERA, the Yankee bats have another opportunity to stay hot.
Game 2: CC Sabathia (2-1, 5.45 ERA) vs. Tim Adleman (1-1, 4.42 ERA)
CC Sabathia needs a quality start more than ever. After three impressive starts to begin the season, CC has been getting rocked, racking up a 10.43 ERA in his last three starts. If CC can’t figure it out vs. the Reds, his performance will be a major point of concern for the club, as he would easily be seen as the team’s worst starter. He will face Tim Adleman, who only allowed two runs in his last start.
Joe Girardi needs to keep his team focused, as this series comes between the high of sweeping the World Series champions and the anticipation of playing a huge four-game series against the AL West leading Houston Astros starting Thursday. Beating teams like the Cubs and Red Sox are fantastic, but you don’t get any extra boost in the standings from that. The Yanks have a great opportunity here to pick up two wins, enjoy an off day, and get ready for a long weekend against Houston.
Beware The Reds Bats
No one expects the Reds to compete for the division this season, but as 30 games has passed, they have proved they can swing the bat. They are currently sit third in the league with 163 runs (only the Yankees and Nationals are ahead of them) and rank second with a .468 slugging percentage. Shortstop Zack Cozart is having a breakout season so far, as his .351 average ranks sixth in the league, with his fellow infielder Eugenio Suarez right behind him at .330. They can also hit it out of the park with Joey Votto, Adam Duvall, and Scott Schebler all having nine home runs and Suarez at seven. It will be very important for CC to keep the ball in the park, which can be a challenge in the hitter friendly park that is the Great American Ball Park.