The Yankees finally lost a series, but were able to avoid the sweep by taking the series finale. They were plagued by poor pitching in the first two games of the season, but J.A. Happ was able to spin a gem in game 3. They head to Cleveland to take on an Indians team that is 5-5 in their last 10 games but took 2 out of 3 from both the Red Sox and Twins during that time span. Expect the Indians to put up a strong fight against the Yankees.
Game 1: Friday 7:10 PM
Domingo German (9-1; 3.66 ERA) vs Zack Plesac (0-1; 1.46 ERA)
Game one is a battle between Domingo German and Zack Plesac. German has cooled off after his scorching hot start. In his last two starts he has given up 10 runs in only 8.2 innings pitched. Meanwhile, Plesac has been terrific in his first two career major league outings. He has allowed only 2 runs on 8 hits in 12.1 innings, but he is still looking to secure his first major league victory.
German is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 2 starts against the Indians in his career. He has given up 6 runs on 5 hits in only 10 innings. He has held current Indians hitters to a .200 batting average, with a .314 OBP. The bulk of his struggles in the 2 starts came against players who are no longer on the roster, most notably Edwin Encarnacion. Zack Plesac will be making his 3rd career start, and his first against the Yankees.
Game 2: Saturday 4:10 PM
CC Sabathia (3-2; 3.61 ERA) vs Adam Plutko (1-1; 6.35 ERA)
Game two is a Saturday afternoon matchup between CC Sabathia and Adam Plutko. This will likely be the final game that Sabathia will pitch in Cleveland, the place where he started his career. In his 8 years as an Indian, he went 51-41 with a 3.81 ERA at Progressive Field. Sabathia is coming off of a typical performance, giving the Yankees 6 quality innings, while keeping them in the game. Plutko will be making his third start of the season, after giving up 8 runs in 11.1 innings in his first two.
In 13 career starts against the Indians, Sabathia is 4-3 with a 3.57 ERA. He has struggled against current Indians hitters, allowing the group to hit .330 with a .955 OPS. He has struggled mightily against Jose Ramirez, Carlos Santana, and Francisco Lindor. Ramirez is 6 for 16 with a double and a home run, Santana is 11 for 23 with a double and a home run, and Lindor is 7 for 19 with 2 doubles. Adam Plutko will be making his first career appearance against the Yankees in this game.
Game 3: Sunday 1:10 PM
Masahiro Tanaka (3-5; 3.42 ERA) vs Shane Bieber (5-2; 3.57 ERA)
The series finale is a Sunday matinee between Masahiro Tanaka and Shane Bieber. Tanaka is coming off back to back 6 inning 4 run performances, taking the loss in both. Despite the recent struggles, he still has a 3.42 ERA and has been one of the Yankees most consistent starters so far this season. Bieber has had an up and down season so far with a few 7+ inning, 1 or fewer run performances, but also a few duds with 5+ earned runs allowed.
Tanaka is 1-2 with a 4.25 ERA in 5 career starts against the Indians. In his lone 2018 start against them, he took a no decision while giving up 2 runs in 6.1 innings. He has allowed current Indians hitters to hit .315 off of him, with an OPS of .786. The bulk of these struggles come against Indians sluggers Jose Ramirez, Carlos Santana, and Jason Kipnis. Bieber is 1-0 against the Yankees in his only appearance, giving up 4 runs in 7 innings. He has not allowed a hit to a player on the current roster, with much of the damage coming from Tyler Wade and Yankees sluggers on the Injured List.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
DJ LeMahieu (Hot)
DJ LeMahieu has been the Yankees best signing from the offseason. He has arguably been the teams MVP and most consistent player. He is scorching hot at the plate, going 11 for 28 with 2 home runs, 4 doubles, and 10 RBIs in the last week. He is almost hitting .500 on the season with runners in scoring position. His contact first approach is a breath of fresh air in the Yankees power heavy lineup.
Tommy Kahnle (Hot)
Tommy Kahnle would be the comeback player of the year for this Yankees team if it weren’t for Gary Sanchez and his success so far in 2019. Kahnle has a 1.48 ERA on the season with 35 strikeouts in 24.1 innings pitched. He has been lights out in the last week, giving up 0 hits in 2.1 innings over 3 appearances. Expect him to continue to get opportunities in high leverage spots as he has repeatedly shown that he is back to his 2017 form.
Brett Gardner (Not)
It has been well-documented that Brett Gardner is a streaky hitter, however his 2019 season has featured more struggles than success. His average on the season is down to .225, and in the last week he is hitting .111. He still provides the team with a veteran presence in the clubhouse, a tough out at the plate, and terrific defense in left field, but he needs better results to warrant continued playing time once the team gets healthy.
Kendrys Morales (Not)
Kendrys Morales’ days with the Yankees appears to be numbered as the team is getting healthy. He has not provided the Yankees with much production, but it has been documented that the team loves his work ethic and veteran leadership. On the season he is hitting .157 with only 2 home runs. His last week has not been much better, going 3 for 15 with no extra base hits. In order to keep getting playing time, Morales needs to produce more at the plate.
Fantasy Players to Watch
Didi is finally back! After having TJ surgery during the offseason, he has finally recovered, rehabbed and joined the Yankees. He will make his season debut during the series, and how can he not be the choice for the fantasy series here?
Hicks finally broke out of his recent slump during the Blue Jays series. He showed us the power he has from the left side of the plate and the range he has in the outfield. Expect him to build off of that success as the team heads to Cleveland for three against the Indians.
Domingo German was the Yankees best pitcher in the early going, but he has tailed off recently. CC Sabathia simply does not rely on strikeouts as a large part of his arsenal, so the choice here is Tanaka. Despite struggling in his last few starts, he can rack up strikeouts when he is pitching well. Expect him to get back on track in this series.
In a series that is expected to be close, expect the big arms in the bullpen to get some work. Ottavino should get action in a couple games after only pitching in one during the series against the Blue Jays. Anytime he pitches he can strike hitters out in a hurry. Look for that to happen here.
The Yankees are starting to get healthy, they have the lead in the AL East, and things are looking promising for the team. Let’s not overreact to a series loss in Toronto. Expect the team to put together better performances against the Indians and potentially win the series. Keep up with the series previews all season and as always go Yanks!
Editors Note: This is a new thing we are doing this season. Each series you will choose one outfielder, one infielder, one starting pitcher, and one relief pitcher. We are only counting two stats. Total bases for hitters and strikeouts for pitchers.
Your totals will be counted and a winner will receive a prize at the end of each month. Make sure you come back and make your picks before each series. You will find them right here on the series preview post.