Yankees and Red Sox renew “The Rivalry” in ALDS

Major League Baseball once again will showcase its greatest contribution to the sports world. The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox renew “The Rivalry”. This name has been given because of the reputation the matchup has earned as the greatest rivalry in all of sports.

With both teams being legitimate World series contenders this year, “The Rivalry” has grown to new heights. When these two teams met for the first time this season at Fenway Park in Boston, Tyler Austin, now a former Yankee cleated a Red Sox at Second base. This lead to Joe Kelly throwing at Austin, and him charging Kelly at the mound where punches were thrown, benches cleared and suspensions were dished out. The tone for the season was set as both teams let it be known that their rivalry was back and better than ever.

The Red Sox won a franchise record 108 games this season en route to winning the American League East and owning baseball’s best record. Boston can thank MVP candidates Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez for their season. Betts, likely the favorite to win the AL MVP hit for a .346 average, slugged 32 home runs, 80 RBI’s, scored 129 runs, stole 30 bases, had a .438 on-base percentage and a .640 slugging percentage. Martinez wasn’t far behind as he hit for a .330 average, 43 home runs, 130 RBI’s, scored 111 runs, had a .402 on-base percentage and a .629 slugging percentage.

The Red Sox have also been led by a good starting pitching staff that has AL Cy Young (best pitcher) candidate Chris Sale at the forefront. Sale was outstanding as usual in 2018, posting a 6.9 WAR (wins above replacement) a 12-4 record in 27 starts, a 2.11 ERA and a whopping 237 strikeouts, which is good enough for sixth in the MLB, third in the AL. Rick Porcello, David Price and Nathan Eovaldi will also look to make impacts as starters.

The New York Yankees do not lack star power either as they send one of the most impressive lineups in the MLB to the plate. The Yankees set a new MLB record with 267 home runs hit in a season, breaking the previous record of 264 held by the 1997 Seattle Mariners. The “Bronx Bombers” live up to their name as they had six players hit over 20 home runs. Giancarlo Stanton led the way with 38, while rookie Miguel Andujar, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge each hit 27. Gleyber Torres, also a rookie, hit 24. The difficult part of this lineup is the depth that it has. Gary Sanchez and trade deadline acquisitions Luke Voit and Andrew McCutchen all have tremendous potential at the plate, making this Yankee lineup murderers row.

The Yankees are lead by Luis Severino on the mound, following a first half that appeared to have him on track to the AL Cy Young award before falling off a bit in the second half. Severino still lead the team with a respectable 3.39 ERA, 19 wins, 220 strikeouts and opponent batting average holding them to .238. The Yankees will also look to Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ as starters.

Both sides have very stout bullpens, but the Yankees have one of the best in baseball. Headlined by flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, New York’s bullpen is one to fear. Zach Britton, Dave Robertson, Dellin Betances and Chad Green. With a bullpen as strong as this, the Yankees only need five or six innings from their starters.

Boston on the other hand has a bullpen led by Craig Kimbrel, one of the leagues top closers. Behind him the bullpen seems to drop. Kelly will be an arm that is heavily relied on as well as Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes and Hector Velazquez. The group is unproven, but has potential to make or break the Red Sox playoff run.

The Red Sox have a clear advantage when Chris Sale pitches, as neither side has the arm talent to match him, but Sale will only be able to pitch twice in a best of five American League Division Series. The key is going to be the Red Sox pitching. They need their starters behind Chris Sale to perform. The last few seasons have seen Boston’s pitching fail them in the ALDS. They need their starters to give five or six innings while handing the ball to the bullpen with a lead. The bullpen also needs to hold leads when they have them because the later you get in games, the harder it will be to score on the dominant Yankees bullpen.

The Yankees appear to be in good shape, especially the longer they keep themselves in games. The key for the “Bronx Bombers” is going to be their starting pitching. The Red Sox lineup is very good and can jump on teams early. If the Yankees hand the ball off to their bullpen within striking distance, they feel very confident, especially the way their lineup is set up.

The series has seen two game played heading into game three on Monday. Both the sides have each won a game, with Chris Sale dominating in game one, and David Price struggling in game two. Game three will see the series shift to the Bronx, where the Red Sox will send Nathan Eovaldi, who has 16 straight scoreless innings against the Yankees since joining Boston, to the mound to face Luis Severino, the Yankees Wild Card game starter.

With the series now being shortened to three games following the split in Boston, game three on Monday, Oct. 8 becomes pivotal.