Following last season’s epic American League Division Series, there is no shortage of hype around the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, as expectations are sky high in both Boston and New York entering 2019.
The Red Sox will defend their World Series championship with the same rotation that helped them stage their title run, re-signing playoff hero Nathan Eovaldi in the offseason to return alongside Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez.
The offseason was a bit busier in the Bronx, as the Yankees made several moves to bolster their bullpen and infield. The Yanks also acquired starting pitcher James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners, further solidifying a rotation that will include Luis Severino, J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia.
Whenever Boston and New York square up, there is bound to be an exciting pitching matchup, but former general manager and MLB Network analyst Steve Phillips says the advantage lies with the Yankees’ rotation.
“Honestly, Chris Sale? I am scared to death for Chris Sale, what’s going on with his arm. He was not right at the end of the season last year,” Phillips said on MLB Network Radio. “What do I expect from David Price this year? And after that, everyone is excited about Nathan Eovaldi, but look at what Nate Eovaldi was last year. I know he was a beast in the postseason, but what has he been in his career? We are talking about a guy with a 4.00 ERA in his career. So, like how good is the Red Sox rotation?
“I actually take the Yankees’ rotation over the Red Sox’ rotation. I take Severino over Sale this year. I take Paxton over Price this year. I take Happ over Eovaldi. I’ll take Tanaka over Porcello. And Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Sabathia I think is pretty darn close.”
Which team actually has the better rotation likely comes down to who is healthier. Last season, the two clubs got very similar performances out of the rotation, with each group posting quality starts in 41 percent of their outings, according to baseball-reference.com. The Sox’s rotation topped the American League with a .667 winning percentage, while the Yankees rang in third at .617.
Does the addition of Paxton (and subtraction of Sonny Gray) give the Yanks a boost? Absolutely. But regardless of which team gets the slight edge in the head-to-head, both teams expect to have two of the best rotations in baseball.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports