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New York Yankees Series Preview: Only the best team in the AL, no biggie

The Evil Empire got evil again.

MLB: Game Two-New York Yankees at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals have been generally playing much better baseball over the last six or seven weeks, but while they have played some good teams, they’ve mostly been doing their damage against teams that aren’t especially great. The Yankees, while they’ve fallen off their record pace from earlier this year, are especially great. The Astros and Dodgers have closed the gap, but the Yankees still do have the second-best record in baseball and the best run differential in baseball. Sure they’re struggling some in July, but it’s easy to get a little complacent with the kind of lead in their division and for that coveted Wild Card round bye. They’re pretty healthy with only Giancarlo Stanton and Luis Severino among their big contributors on the IL, but they’ve completely revived Matt Carpenter’s career and he’s back to being a force. They got a little help with Andrew Benintendi going to their side for this series and beyond, but this is a heck of a team. Their starting rotation is fantastic one through four at least with Severino out and their bullpen is very good. They’re a tough team to beat.

Royals vs. Yankees Matchup Stats

Category Royals Yankees
Category Royals Yankees
Winning % .398 .667
H2H Wins 0 3
Team wRC+ 94 120
Team xFIP 4.54 3.55
Run Differential -112 196
Highest fWAR Bobby Witt Jr., 2.0 Aaron Judge, 5.7

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 389 .281 .386 .408 13.6% 12.3% 133 3.1
Aaron Judge CF 422 .292 .374 .648 11.4% 26.1% 182 5.7
Anthony Rizzo 1B 389 .223 .342 .489 11.3% 17.0% 134 1.8
Gleyber Torres DH 343 .263 .322 .481 7.3% 18.7% 126 1.9
Andrew Benintendi LF 390 .320 .387 .398 10.0% 13.3% 126 2.0
Josh Donaldson 3B 318 .226 .308 .391 9.7 27.0% 100 1.1
Matt Carpenter RF 122 .307 .421 .772 12.3% 24.6% 229 2.1
Isiah Kiner-Falefa SS 331 .275 .318 .328 5.1% 13.9% 84 0.8
Jose Trevino C 200 .262 .305 .422 5.5% 16.0% 106 2.7

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 156 .186 .240 .321 6.4% 22.4% 57 0.5
Marwin Gonzalez INF/OF 128 .226 .291 .365 7.0% 26.6% 87 0.5
Aaron Hicks OF 307 .243 .366 .343 15.3% 21.8% 110 1.6
Tim Locastro OF 28 .240 .321 .480 7.1% 21.4% 129 0.1
Joey Gallo OF 270 .161 .285 .343 14.8% 38.1% 83 0.3

Yankees Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Clay Holmes 43 44.0 4 1 27.2% 5.8% 1.23 2.31 1.4
Wandy Peralta 35 37.0 2 3 19.7% 6.8% 2.43 3.77 0.7
Jontahan Loaisiga 24 21.2 1 2 21.6% 11.3% 7.06 3.74 -0.1

Royals vs. Yankees Projected Pitching Matchups

July 28 - RHP Brady Singer vs. RHP Jameson Taillon, 6:05pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Brady Singer 15 77.2 4 3 25.5% 6.3% 3.82 3.30 1.2
Jameson Taillon 19 103.0 9 2 19.7% 3.5% 3.93 3.83 1.7

Brady Singer has been quite good since his return from Omaha. He’s posted a 3.63 ERA in 12 starts spanning 72 innings with the peripherals to match that ERA. In his last start, he set a career-high with 12 strikeouts in six innings against an admittedly depleted but still decent Rays offense. The 72 innings is his most in any 12-start stretch in his career and the 75 strikeouts he’s posted in those 72 innings is the most in any 12-start stretch in his career as well. He’s pitched very, very well and what makes it even more impressive is that he’s been so consistent. He’s gone at least five innings in 11 of his 12 starts and at least six innings in six of those starts. He’s also allowed three or fewer runs in 10 of the 12 starts. This one against the Yankees will be a different animal, though they are pretty righty-heavy, so that’ll help him. I feel like Singer has reached the point that it’s about what he does more than the offense he faces. If his sinker and slider are working, it doesn’t matter how good the Yankees offense is. The difference is that I have some faith in him to work around a bad lineup without his best stuff now, but the Yankees would punish him if it’s not working.

Career vs. NYY: 2 GS, 7.1 IP, 0-1, 8.59 ERA


Jameson Taillon has had to battle quite a bit in his career. On a baseball note, he’s had to go through two Tommy John surgeries, but on a note that impacted his baseball career and his life, he’s also had to battle testicular cancer. But here he is, pitching quite well for a great team. He has good stuff, but doesn’t get a ton of strikeouts. That’s because he has both very good control and very good command that allows him to pitch to contact in a way that makes a lot of sense because not all strikes are good strikes, both for hitters and pitchers. He throws his fastball a bit more than one-third of the time and it sits 93-95. He then mixes in a slider, a curve, a cutter, a sinker and a changeup. Yes, he has six pitches he throws at least nine percent of the time. That’s pretty crazy. He does feature his changeup almost exclusively against lefties, so right-handed bats won’t see all six. Even with that changeup, lefties have hit him a fair amount better than rightis, so that bodes somewhat well for a lefty-heavy Royals lineup. There is some concern in New York as well as Taillon has a 6.09 ERA over his last nine starts.

Career vs. KC: 3 GS, 19.1 IP, 1-0, 0.47 ERA

July 29 - LHP Kris Bubic vs. RHP Gerrit Cole, 6:05pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Kris Bubic 16 68.1 2 6 17.7% 11.9% 5.53 4.77 0.0
Gerrit Cole 20 119.1 9 3 32.3% 6.8% 3.09 2.78 2.4

While the overall numbers for Kris Bubic are pretty horrific, he’s been a lot more like the guy who was a league average starter in his first two seasons since he came back to the big leagues. He’s gone seven innings in each of his last two starts and has posted a 3.76 ERA in 10 starts. The peripherals don’t exactly match that as he has a FIP of 4.14, but that’s still certainly solid. The righty-heavy Yankees lineup is going to make Bubic’s fastball even more important. It’s easy to think the changeup would be the weapon, and it is, but his changeup doesn’t work as well if the fastball isn’t effective. Bubic did face these Yankees earlier this year and his outing started with a double allowed, a lineout and then back-to-back home runs. From that point forward, he retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced without walking anyone. It’s a different stadium, of course, but he’s shown he can get the Yankees lineup out at least. I wouldn’t say I’m terribly confident of his chances in this one, but at least there is some success from the recent past.

Career vs. NYY: 2 G, 1 GS, 7.1 IP, 0-1, 3.68 ERA


Maybe I’ve just been listening to the wrong chatter, but it seems like there’s been at last some talk about how Cole is having a down year. And then you look at his numbers and they’re just…right there. He’s limiting hits, not walking too many and striking out a ton of hitters. He’s giving up some home runs, but in line with what he’s given up in the last few years of his career. He’s a legitimately great pitcher. The thing about Cole is that he trusts his fastball. It’s in the zone a lot and while he was throwing it a little higher in prevoius seasons, he’s definitely gotten it more toward the middle, which is where the trouble can come for him. But it’s still a 98 MPH heater that many hitters can’t do much with. Otherwise, the cutter has given him some trouble, but really all of his pitches are incredible. He is giving up more when he’s behind in the count this season, which is easier said than done for a hitter to get there, but the Royals will need to not waste any of those limited opportunities.

Career vs. KC: 6 GS, 39.2 IP, 4-1, 2.04 ERA

July 30 - RHP Jonathan Heasley vs. LHP Nestor Cortes, 1:05pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jonathan Heasley 11 52.1 1 5 16.9% 11.0% 5.50 5.38 -0.1
Nestor Cortes 18 101.2 8 3 26.2% 5.4% 2.48 3.67 2.1

The Royals are going to be happy to have Jonathan Heasley back in the rotation. Before his last start that sent him to the IL with a shoulder issue, he was pitching decently enough. From his first quality start in Cleveland until his penultimate start before his injury, he had gone 37.2 innings in seven starts with a 4.78 ERA that was inflated from one bad start against Texas. His control was much better and he was starting to show the kind of success he’d had in the minors. He only made one rehab start and that was on Sunday in Omaha. He made it through 3.1 innings and threw 60 pitches but didn’t walk a single batter, so he’s probably good for 80-85 pitches.

Career vs. NYY: First Appearance


Seeing Nestor Cortes have the success he’s had makes me feel good about myself for wanting the Royals to take him in the Rule 5 draft a couple of years ago. While it may seem like he burst on the scene this year, he was excellent last season too. When the Royals faced him in late April, he was on some kind of run. He’s shown that he can get hit a bit since, but even so, he’s still been really good even if not quite as great. His fastball is 91-92 and opponents are slugging .297 against it. His cutter has also been extremely effective. Where he’s been hit is on his slider, which he throws the most on the first pitch, so Royals hitters will need to be looking for that early. Lefties have an absurd .310 OPS against him and a 1.90 ERA at home, which feels like it could make for a rough game for Royals hitters.

Career vs. KC: 4 G, 2 GS, 17.1 IP, 1-1, 2.60 ERA

July 31 - RHP Zack Greinke vs. LHP Jordan Montgomery, 12:35pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Zack Greinke 16 82.2 3 6 13.4% 4.5% 4.35 4.58 0.8
Jordan Montgomery 20 110.2 3 3 20.2% 4.7% 3.50 3.63 1.3

I have to say that I’m a bit worried for Zack Greinke in this start. He has a 1.65 ERA at home, but that jumps to 7.38 on the road. He’s had some tough road matchups including pitching in Colorado, Arizona and then against both good offenses in good hitter’s parks in Toronto and Houston. His cutter could be the weapon that helps him out against the Yankees lineup because while I know he gets surprisingly weak contact at times, they’re powerful and those walls in left and right are dangerously close to home plate. His curve, though, would be what keeps him in the game for a little bit longer. It’s been a good pitch that hitters haven’t been able to drive. He’s one of the few active pitchers who have still pitched at Old Yankee Stadium, but he hasn’t had success at either venue in his career.

Career vs. NYY: 17 G, 14 GS, 79.1 IP, 4-5, 4.99 ERA


Jordan Montgomery has kind of a bizarre thing going on where he pitches for a great time and pitches well, but he somehow only has six decisions. Part of it is he doesn’t get terribly deep into games, pitching more than six innings in just five of his starts. But some of it is just purely bad luck. He’s thrown his sinker quite a bit more this year than last and it’s been a legitimately very good pitch for him. His changeup, which was his moneymaker last year, has been rough this season. But his curve has been outstanding as well for him. He’s also been a monster against lefties, holding them to a .429 OPS. Righties, literally on the other hand, have hit 14 home runs against him. He hasn’t shown a huge split as he throws more pitches either, but that might just be because the Yankees do a good job of getting him out quickly.

Career vs. KC: 2 GS, 11.2 IP, 0-1, 4.63 ERA

Royals vs. Yankees Prediction

It’s kind of funny that one team’s skid (10-12 in July for the Yankees) is so close to another team’s hot month (12-12 in July for the Royals), but it does show how far apart these two clubs are. If Bobby Witt Jr. and an actually healthy and cleared Salvador Perez are in there, I’ll feel a lot better about the Royals, but for now, I’m going to say they take one of the four games.

Poll

How many wins for the Royals against Andrew Benintendi and the Yankees?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    4
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    3
    (3 votes)
  • 9%
    2
    (15 votes)
  • 46%
    1
    (74 votes)
  • 39%
    0
    (62 votes)
158 votes total Vote Now