The Yankees head to Chicago after splitting the two-game series against the Mets on Tuesday. They were able to do so without using any of their high impact bullpen arms, due in large part to the 7-inning performance by Masahiro Tanaka in game one. Look for the Yankees to get back on track against a White Sox team that has struggled in the early part of the season, and is 5-5 in their last 10 games.
Game 1: Thursday 8:10 PM
J.A. Happ (6-3; 4.48 ERA) vs Ivan Nova (3-5; 6.28 ERA)
The series opener is a matchup between J.A. Happ and Ivan Nova. Happ has pitched better than his numbers indicate, winning 5 of his last 6 decisions while only allowing 5 runs over his last 18 innings pitched. His fly ball tendencies have made susceptible to the home run ball, but he has done a better job of limiting the number of the home runs he has allowed recently. Nova is trending in the opposite direction, giving up 7 runs in 12.1 innings in his last two starts. He will be looking to turn it around against a Yankees team that he held to 1 run over 6 innings in a start earlier this season.
Happ has struggled against the White Sox in 7 career starts, giving up 22 runs in only 41.1 innings. He pitched poorly in a start against them earlier this season, giving up 6 runs in 4 innings and taking the loss. He has allowed current White Sox hitters to hit .315 with a .852 OPS in 89 at bats. He has struggled with the long ball, yielding a home run to James McCann, Tim Anderson, and Yonder Alonso. Nova has been terrific against his former team in two career starts. He has given up 2 runs over 13 innings, despite his 1-1 record. He has held current Yankees hitters to a .245 average in 49 at bats while only allowing 2 extra base hits. If the Yankees plan on taking game one of the series, they will need to buck this trend.
Game 2: Friday 8:10 PM
CC Sabathia (3-3; 3.96 ERA) vs Lucas Giolito (9-1; 2.28 ERA)
Game two of the series will be a battle between CC Sabathia and Lucas Giolito. Sabathia could not command any of his pitches in his most recent start against the Indians, giving up 4 runs in 5 innings of work. Giolito looks like he has finally figured it out at the major league level after being a highly touted prospect. He has won 7 straight starts and only allowed 5 runs during the streak. He currently has a 22-inning scoreless streak.
In 38 career start, Sabathia is 19-7 against the White Sox with a 3.67 ERA. The bulk of these starts came while he was a member of the Cleveland Indians, however he did not allow a run over 5 innings in a start against the Sox earlier this year. Sabathia has stifled current White Sox hitters to a .174 average, while only allowing home runs to Wellington Castillo and Tim Anderson in 69 at bats. Giolito has struggled mightily in his 2 career starts against the Yankees, allowing 13 runs in only 10 innings. Current Yankees are hitting .343 off of Giolito, with LeMahieu and Frazier each hitting .500 against him. He has also given up home runs to Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks.
Game 3: Saturday 7:10 PM
TBD vs Reynaldo Lopez (4-6; 6.21 ERA)
Although the Yankees have not announced a starter for game 3 of the series, it is expected to be Chad Green in the opener role. The White Sox will counter with Reynaldo Lopez. The Yankees are currently 5-0 on “bullpen day” and can hopefully continue the streak against a struggling pitcher in Reynaldo Lopez. Despite his struggles, Lopez has pitched extremely well against the Yankees in his early career. He has given up only 2 runs in 14 innings. He has held current Yankees hitters to a .194 batting average in 36 plate appearances, with the bulk of the damage coming off of the bat of Gleyber Torres.
Game 4: Sunday 2:10 PM
Masahiro Tanaka (4-5; 3.58 ERA) vs Odrisamer Despaigne (0-1; 4.50 ERA)
In the series finale the Yankees will hand the ball to Masahiro Tanaka, while the White Sox will send newcomer Odrisamer Despaigne to the mound. Tanaka is coming off the heels of a gutsy performance in which he gave the Yankees 7 much needed innings despite not having his best arsenal of pitches. He is 4-2 with a 3.53 ERA against the White Sox in his career, but he did take a loss earlier this season after giving up 5 runs in 4 innings. He has allowed the White Sox to hit .303 off of him with 11 doubles in 89 at bats, but he has been able to keep the ball in the park, allowing just one home run. Despaigne joined the White Sox after being released by the Reds. He lost his first start with the Sox after giving up 3 runs in 6 innings against the Nationals. He has faced the Yankees once in his career, giving up 2 runs in 1.2 innings of relief.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
DJ LeMahieu (Hot)
DJ LeMahieu has been a regular on this list so far in 2019. He has played terrific defense all around the infield and delivered in clutch situations. He has been the Yankees best offseason acquisition. Once again, he is on this list because of the hot bat he is swinging. In the last week he is 12 for 33 (.364 avg) with a home run, 2 doubles, 6 runs, and 7 RBIs. Hs contact first approach has been a blessing for this Yankees team in the absence of so many of their stars.
Didi Gregorius (Hot)
Gregorius has struggled on defense since making his season debut last week. That should have been expected from a player returning from Tommy John Surgery. In addition to that, he has not gotten much help from his first basemen on throws in the dirt, or slightly wide of the bag. Despite that, he is scorching hot with the bat. His average currently sits at .429 (6-14) on the season with a double and a home run. He has provided the Yankees with the impact lefty bat they have been missing in the early part of the season.
James Paxton (Not)
Paxton has struggled in back to back starts now. With so many injuries to the pitching staff, he needs to be the teams ace. Up to this point, he has simply not lived up to that expectation. On the season his ERA is 4.04, but in his last two starts it is 11.05. The Yankees gave up a number of highly touted prospects to acquire Paxton with the expectation that he would help solidify the starting pitching. With Luis Severino, Domingo German, and Jonathan Loaisiga out with injury, the Yankees need better performances from Paxton.
Austin Romine (Not)
Austin Romine has been terrible for the Yankees so far in 2019. His batting average is below .200 and he does not provide the team with great defense behind the plate. In the last week he is 0-5 for a walk. He continues to get at least two starts each week in order to keep Gary Sanchez fresh, but Romine needs to improve if he hopes to remain the team’s backup catcher once rosters expand in September.
Fantasy Players to Watch
Gleyber Torres has struggled in the last week with only 3 hits in his last 14 at bats. He did show encouraging signs of breaking out of his slump, going 2 for 3 in the nightcap of the doubleheader against the Mets. Look for him to heat up soon, especially against a White Sox pitching staff that has struggled so far in 2019.
Aaron Hicks finally looks like himself at the plate. He is working counts, getting good pitches to hit, and taking advantage. In the last 7 games he has 3 home runs, 2 doubles, and 3 walks. This is the type of production that the Yankees are expecting from Hicks. As a result, he is the best outfield option in the fantasy series.
Masahiro Tanaka is the easy choice for the fantasy series here. With Happ and Sabathia relying on soft contact for the bulk of their outs, and an opener in game 3, Tanaka should strike out the most White Sox hitters among the starting pitchers. Hopefully Tanaka can build off of his most recent start, a gutsy 6.2 inning, 4 run performance in which the defense let him down on a number of occasions.
The high impact relievers for the Yankees have not had to pitch much during the last week, after being heavily utilized during the team’s 9 series win streak. The big arms will likely be used during this series, and as a result the choice should be Aroldis Chapman.
The Yankees simply need to play better to win the series. They have been plagued by poor pitching, poor defense, and an inconsistent offense in the last 10 games. The result is a 4-6 record. Expect the Yankees to use these games to tune up their play before heading home for a tough homestand with 3 against the Rays and 4 against the Astros.
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.