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New York Yankees Series Preview: The Bronx has seen some ups and downs in 2021

The Yankees are almost as inconsistent as the Royals!

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

When you think of the New York Yankees, you think of power on power on power. But this Yankees team, while they’re hanging around the race, just doesn’t score like we’re used to seeing in the Bronx. And because of that, they’re just not very consistent. They started 5-10. Then they went 23-9 over their next 32 to get within a half-game of first place in the AL East. Then they went 4-11. And now they’ve won five of six. They’re sort of like a version of this Royals team that has better depth to not fall to the lowest points like we’ve seen from the Royals. They’re better at their best and better at their worst, but it’s interesting that they’ve had some similar swings to what we’ve seen in Kansas City.

I mentioned the offense. Sometimes they look unstoppable, but other times, they’re very stoppable. When they have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the same lineup, that’s tough for pitchers to work through both of them. Both are currently healthy, which is good for the Yankees and bad for the Royals. Gary Sanchez is hitting .344/.408/.719 in his last 20 games. That’s huge for them to give them a third bat. If they can get DJ Lemahieu going, they might find themselves in good shape, but he seems to be revving in neutral this season. It also doesn’t help that Luke Voit has missed most of the season, Gleyber Torres has been bad and so has Clint Frazier. Really they’ve been carried by good pitching. They’re missing Corey Kluber, who had started off so well but now is out for anywhere from a long time to the whole season. Their bullpen is great, and they’ve just gotten Zack Britton back, so that’s where the challenge lies in facing this Yankees team.

Royals vs. Yankees Tale of the Tape

Category Royals Yankees
Category Royals Yankees
Winning % .457 .535
Team wRC+ 91 96
Team xFIP 4.35 3.92
Run Differential -40 0
Highest fWAR Salvador Perez, 1.9 Gerrit Cole, 3.1

Yankees Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
DJ Lemahieu 2B 303 .259 .333 .352 9.9% 15.8% 93 0.9
Aaron Judge RF 282 .280 .376 .498 13.1% 27.3% 142 1.8
Gary Sanchez C 200 .237 .340 .480 12.0% 27.5% 125 1.3
Giancarlo Stanton DH 213 .265 .343 .508 10.8% 28.2% 132 0.8
Luke Voit 1B 50 .182 .280 .250 10.0% 30.0% 56 -0.2
Gleyber Torres SS 255 .252 .332 .332 10.6% 18.8% 89 1.1
Gio Urshela 3B 254 .269 .311 .441 5.9% 26.0% 107 1.0
Miguel Andujar LF 125 .242 .264 .375 3.2% 19.2% 74 0.0
Brett Gardner CF 182 .212 .315 .325 12.6% 23.6% 82 0.5

Yankees Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Kyle Higashioka C 96 .186 .271 .407 10.4% 28.1% 87 0.7
Tyler Wade INF/OF 46 .233 .283 .279 6.5% 26.1% 59 -0.2
Clint Frazier OF 195 .193 .313 .331 13.8% 29.2% 86 -0.7
Rougned Odor INF 152 .194 .263 .388 6.6% 26.3% 80 0.0

Yankees Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Aroldis Chapman 29 27.1 4 2 43.1% 12.8% 1.98 2.11 0.9
Zack Britton 3 3.0 0 0 8.3% 16.7% 0.00 7.27 0.0
Chad Green 30 35.1 2 4 27.7% 6.2% 2.55 4.11 0.6

Probable Starting Pitchers

June 22 - Brady Singer vs. Gerrit Cole, 6:05pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Brady Singer 14 68.0 3 5 23.3% 8.2% 4.76 4.00 1.4
Gerrit Cole 14 89.2 8 3 34.7% 3.6% 2.31 2.61 3.1

The Yankees ace has been under the spotlight recently with the conversation around sticky stuff being eliminated from pitcher’s repertoires. Admittedly, Gerrit Cole had a brutal answer when asked about it, but he’s not the only one who has used it, of course, and it’s probably a bit unfair to single him out when this is a much larger issue within the game. Still, every one of his starts is under a microscope now as we watch his spin rate with each pitch. Here are his fastball spin rates this season:

So that’s pretty damning. I won’t show you every chart, but the slider dropped big time as well. The results have been there for him in his last two starts. He’s given up four runs on nine hits in 14 innings with 13 strikeouts and just one walk. But he has allowed four of his 10 home runs in those two starts, so maybe there’s something there. Plus, he did only strike out four in his last start. He’s still throwing 97 on his fastball. He’s still getting tons of swings and misses on his slider. He’s still Cole. He’s still amazing. He’s better when runners get on base with an OPS allowed with runners in scoring position below .400. That’s not great for a Royals team that hasn’t exactly excelled in those positions. It’s pretty much impossible to find a situation in which he isn’t great, so this will be a big test for the Royals offense.

This is Brady Singer’s spot in the rotation, but after going three innings in his last start and leaving with some shoulder issues that the Royals either were planning for or not, depending on who you ask, it’s hard to say if he’ll be set to go. I’ll update here if it isn’t Singer, but for now, let’s talk about him making his first start in Yankee Stadium. I’ve been pretty critical of Singer lately, partially because I haven’t been a fan of the responsibility he’s taken for his outings. But in his last three starts, he’s bounced back pretty nicely with 16 strikeouts in 14.2 innings and five walks and just one home run. I’m curious if he does pitch if he’s on a pitch count or an innings count like in his last start or if they just let him go, but with this the first of 20 games in 20 days, I imagine there’ll be a plan in place with someone like Carlos Hernandez or Ervin Santana ready to go for multiple innings.

June 23 - Danny Duffy vs. Michael King, 6:05pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Danny Duffy 7 41.2 4 3 28.2% 11.2% 1.94 3.84 1.6
Michael King 11 35.1 0 3 18.7% 9.7% 4.08 4.45 0.3

The Marlins drafted Michael King in the 12th round in 2016 and then sent him to the Yankees for Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith. King debuted in 2019, but got his first semi-extended look last season and he was pretty bad, but did show an ability to get enough strikeouts to be dangerous. This season, he isn’t striking out as many but he has cut down on the home run ball and has been a bit harder to hit, which has made him serviceable enough, but he might be getting exposed again as a starter. He’s made four starts and has a 6.32 ERA in 15.2 innings with just 11 strikeouts and seven walks. He relies quite a bit on a two-seamer that averages 93-94 MPH. He also throws a cutter and a changeup, with both pitches getting a decent number of swings and misses and both have been really good for him, so I’m not sure why he doesn’t throw them more. As a starter, he’s only seen a lineup a third time in one of his four starts, but he’s gotten absolutely mauled the first time through. That’s a challenge for a Royals offense that seems to have trouble getting going early lately, but it’ll be important for them to do that against King.

Danny Duffy hasn’t made a start since May 12, but he’ll come back without a rehab assignment against a righty heavy lineup. I guess if he has changeup working, he has a chance to take them down, but I would imagine this is a glorified opener situation with him good for three or four innings before turning it over to either Carlos Hernandez or Jackson Kowar, which could be super thrilling or a house of horrors.

June 24 - Brad Keller vs. Jameson Taillon, 12:05pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Brad Keller 15 71.0 6 7 19.0% 9.8% 6.34 4.37 0.3
Jameson Taillon 13 58.0 1 4 25.0% 7.1% 5.59 4.49 0.7

It’s been quite a journey in Taillon’s career as he’s dealt with cancer and come back from that and now he’s working on his comeback from Tommy John that wiped out his entire 2020 season. It’s been a mixed bag. He’s striking out more hitters than ever before, but his walk rate is also the second highest of his career. Since coming to the Yankees, he’s throwing his four-seamer WAY more than ever before, but it’s hard to know if that’s philosophical or maybe him not trusting his slider as much with the repaired elbow. Either way, those are his top two pitches and both have been hit. His curve hasn’t been hit for power, but he’s allowed a .311 average on it. He also has a changeup and a two-seamer, but they aren’t used very much. Lefties have had their way with Taillon to the tune of a .287/.364/.546 lineup, which isn’t great considering the short porch in right in his home park. But amazingly, he’s been considerably better at home. The Yankees don’t let him get to third time through for very long, but he’s allowed a .400/.516/.800 line in 31 plate appearances when a lineup sees him three times, so the Royals will need to take advantage of that if they do get that opportunity.

Brad Keller looked like he was back on track after a brutal start to the season. It was a different way of finding success than he’d had in previous seasons but he was generally solid enough. He’s now given up at least five runs in three consecutive starts. That’s good for a 9.39 ERA with 13 strikeouts and eight walks in 15.1 innings. You can get swings and misses from this Yankees lineup, but they will also work their walks and given Keller’s issues with command, it’s hard to think this start is going to go well for him, but he’s surprised us before.


The Royals not only got a win over the weekend, but they won a series, so I no longer am done predicting any wins. That said, they’re 19-57 in New York against the Yankees since the turn of the century. It’s not like they’ve had many good teams in that time and the Yankees are always solid, but that’s just a lot of bad play for 20+ years. I think they can take one of the three, but it’s going to be a tough go for them.


How do the Royals do in New York?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    A big ol’ sweep of the Yankees.
    (14 votes)
  • 22%
    They’ll win two of three.
    (22 votes)
  • 49%
    Not great, but could be worse, losing two of three.
    (49 votes)
  • 14%
    Back to losing streaks for you, Royals! It’ll be a Yankees sweep.
    (14 votes)
99 votes total Vote Now