The All-Star Game is now in the rear view mirror, and Major League Baseball’s second half of the season is officially upon us, and we have baseball’s best rivalry to start the weekend as the Boston Red Sox travel to New York to take on the Yankees.
The Red Sox were one the biggest surprises of any team in the first half of the season. Boston entered the All-Star break with a 55-36 record, which was good enough for a 1.5 game lead over the reigning American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East.
In New York, it was one of the most disappointing first halves in baseball. The Yankees finished just three games over .500 at 46-43 and found themselves eight games back of the Red Sox in the division, but just 4.5 games back of a Wild Card position.
This is a massive series for the New York Yankees, despite it being just mid-July. The Yankees enter the weekend series winless against Boston this year in six games, and if they struggle again this weekend and find themselves 10 or more games back in the division, Yankee GM Brian Cashman might be forced to sell key players at the deadline.
This series also presents an opportunity for the Yankees to gain some serious momentum to start the second half. Eight of the Yankees’ first 10 games post All-Star break are against the Red Sox, with the other two games against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Winning their first three series could bring the Yankees within striking distance of first place in the American League East, but continued inconsistent play will likely force the Yankees to sell off assets at the trade deadline.
Eduardo Rodriguez vs. TBD
The Yankees have yet to announce their plans for their pitching rotation this weekend, but the Red Sox have. Of course, that makes previewing the game more difficult.
For the Red Sox, it will be 28-year-old left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. The lefty has a 6-5 record this season with a 5.52 ERA in his 17 starts this season with 21 walks and 104 strikeouts.
Rodriguez has a four-pitch arsenal that includes a four-seam fastball, changeup, cutter, sinker, and slider, and he has been able to use all of his pitches at least eight percent of the time this season. He primarily uses his fastball and changeup with a cutter mixed in effectively too.
What has made Rodrigez successful this season has been his ability to pound the strike zone. His walk rate is in the 88th percentile in the sport this season. Despite not throwing very hard — average fastball velocity this season is under 93 mph — when he has been good this season, he has been able to effectively locate his pitches.
Still, when he has struggled this season, it’s not a huge surprise because he does pitch to contact. His .362 BABip is pretty high, and that has contributed to his plus 5.50 ERA.
In his last four starts, Rodriguez has gone at least six innings in three of them and has given up just nine earned runs. In his finals start before the All-Star break, Rodriguez went five innings in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels, in which he was tagged for four earned runs.
Rodriguez has one start this season against the Yankees, and that came all the way back on June 10. In that start, he went 5.1 innings and gave up three earned runs and five hits.