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Series Preview # 35 : D-backs @ Yankees

Will the D-backs split the 2-game series with the Yankees?

Game face when Yankees lost a game.
Game face during game Yankees lost.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Let’s compare Yankees and D-backs through 26 July.

Run differential: The Yankees led the AL in run differential (120 runs), while the D-backs ranked third in the NL (63 runs).

Defense: The D-backs had more Defensive Runs Saved DRS (+82 vs -16). Despite that huge difference, there was very little difference in runs allowed per game (4.52 vs 4.62). Overall, the D-backs strengths were defense and rotation, while the Yankees strength was bullpen.

Strike outs: The Yankee pitchers struck out more batters (961 vs 921). Paxton and Tanaka earned 23% of the Yankee strikeouts, while Ray and Greinke earned 31% of the D-back strikeouts.

Offense: The Yankees have outscored the D-backs (5.79 vs 5.12 runs per game). Roughly half the difference was due to homers (174 vs 144). Yasmany Tomas will likely play DH in this series. Will he make an impact?

Can the D-backs steal a win? Perhaps exactly yes; the D-backs have more stolen bases (59 vs 38). Perhaps imprecisely yes; the D-back offense could show-up at full throttle. In this two game series one D-back win would feel great!

The Yankees are fighters.

If the Yankees hold their Division lead, it will be their first Division win since 2012. On 23 July, the Yankees won an especially hard fought game against the Twins. There was plenty of drama. 26 runs were scored and 23 runners were left on base. The Yankees took the lead four times to win the game in ten innings.

Yankees revere their history.

The Yankees won the World Series in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2009. With that level of historical success, it’s likely that 9 years without making it to the World Series is an unhappy situation.

“We want a piece of that history. That’s the coolest thing about coming here. You look around and you see the retired numbers, you see all along out there: 1999, 2000, ‘09—wow, all this history.” — Aaron Judge

Recently, the Yankee rotation stumbled.

Strange but true fact: From 21 to 27 July, the Yankee rotation had an ERA of 16.83. Perhaps the D-backs will score early and often!

What happened to the Yankee rotation? Let’s look the Yankee rotation in a recent week.

Yankee Rotation - July 21 to 27

Date Pitcher Earned Runs Innings
Date Pitcher Earned Runs Innings
July 21 James Paxton 4 3.1
July 22 CC Sabathia 6 4
July 23 Domingo German 8 3.1
July 24 JA Happ 6 3.1
July 25 Masahiro Tanaka 12 3.1
July 26 James Paxton 7 4
July 27 CC Sabathia 5 4.1
Baseball Reference

Who will pitch in this series?

Tuesday. JA Happ (86 ERA+, 7.6 SO/9, 2.4 BB/9) vs Taylor Clarke (73 ERA+, 6.8 SO/9, 3.3 BB/9)

In previous seasons, JA Happ has been on many leader boards for pitchers. This season, he is top-ten on two leader boards. Neither board shows excellence:

  • Ranked 5th for allowing most home runs (23).
  • Tied at 10th for allowing the most earned runs (60).

Taylor Clarke pitched well in his latest start. He struck out 7, walked none, and allowed 2 earned runs in 6 innings against the Orioles. This start will be his first after taking paternity leave.

Although five-thirty-eight has the odds of a D-back win at 32%, this game could be won by either team. The rotation match-up could have an impact.

Wednesday. Masahiro Tanaka (93 ERA+, 7.6 SO/9, 2.2 BB/9) vs Zack Greinke (155 ERA+, 8.2 SO/9, 1.1 BB/9)

In previous seasons Masahiro Tanaka has been on many leader boards for pitchers. This season, he is top-ten on four leader boards. Three of the four boards show excellence.

  • Ranked (2nd-10th tie) for most shutouts (1).
  • Ranked (5th-10th tie) for most complete games (1).
  • Ranked 7th for allowing the most earned runs (64).
  • Ranked 9th for least walks per 9 innings (2.169).

In previous seasons Zack Greinke was on a mind-boggling number of leader boards. This season, he is top-ten on at least 26 leader boards. He ranked first in the following five:

  • Walks and hits per inning (.943).
  • Putouts as pitcher (26).
  • Assists as pitcher (25).
  • Range Factor per 9 innings as pitcher (3.26).
  • Range Factor per game as pitcher (2.32).

Although five-thirty-eight has the odds of a D-back win at 42%, Greinke adds so many intangibles that I predict the D-backs will win this game.