What To Know About Yankees As Red Sox Face Rival For First Time In 2021

The Bronx Bombers haven't lived up to the hype so far this season


Jun 4, 2021

It’s June 4. The Boston Red Sox have played 56 games. The New York Yankees 57.

Yet, Friday night marks the first time the bitter American League East rivals will square off in 2021 — the beginning of a three-game series in the Bronx and a 19-game head-to-head season showdown.

Interestingly, the Red Sox (33-23) sit two and a half games ahead of the Yankees (31-26) in the standings — and two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays (36-22) for first place in the division — despite New York entering the year with far greater outside expectations.

So, how did we get here? Well, here are some things you should know about this version of the Yankees, in case you’ve been (understandably) laser focused on the Red Sox’s surprising turnaround.

1. The Yankees’ offense has been stuck in neutral.
The Bronx Bombers rank 27th in batting average (.227), 25th in runs scored (213), 22nd in OPS (.688), 15th in wRC+ (96) and 14th in home runs (67). This hardly is the type of production we’ve come to expect from the Yankees’ offense, which has been among the best in Major League Baseball in recent years.

So, what gives? Well, it’s hard to place the blame on any one person, even though Giancarlo Stanton will feel the heat for as long as he gets paid a gazillion dollars to hit a few baseballs really hard but otherwise struggle to make contact on a consistent basis.

In fact, the Yankees’ lineup is littered with underachievers this season — looking at you, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez and Clint Frazier. And it doesn’t help, either, that Luke Voit, who led MLB with 22 home runs in 56 games last season, has been limited to just 12 games due to injuries, while Aaron Hicks recently underwent wrist surgery that could sideline him for the remainder of 2021.

Aaron Judge really is the only everyday player who’s been worth his salt, and yeah, you just never know when he’s going to break down.

2. Their fundamentals kinda stink.
It’d be one thing if the Yankees — who slugged 267 home runs in 2018 and 306 home runs in 2019 — were still launching balls to the moon. But they’re not, which only magnifies the little mistakes they’ve been making this season in the field and on the bases.

The Yankees are tied for 15th in fielding percentage (.983), having made the 10th-most errors in MLB (34), and tied for 17th in defensive runs saved (5). Their BsR (-7.0), FanGraphs’ all-encompassing baserunning statistic, ranks 29th, ahead of only the San Francisco Giants.

3. Gerrit Cole is still nasty.
The Red Sox dodge a bullet this weekend in that they won’t have to face the Yankees’ best starter, who’s putting together a Cy Young-caliber campaign in his second season with New York.

Cole, who signed a nine-year, $324 million contract before last season, is 6-3 with a 2.26 ERA in 12 starts. He ranks first among all qualified AL starters in FIP (1.89), SIERA (2.34) and strikeout percentage (36.5%). He’s second in WHIP (0.87) behind Baltimore Orioles ace John Means, who shut down the Red Sox earlier this season.

4. Aroldis Chapman is still nasty, too.
The Yankees closer has been as dominant as ever, allowing only one earned run over 22 innings, good for a 0.41 ERA that ranks first among all qualified MLB relievers. His 17.2 strikeouts per nine innings also is tops. So yeah, the six-time All-Star isn’t slowing down at age 33.

5. The rotation has been solid. The bullpen has been excellent.
While Cole and Chapman have paced the rotation and bullpen, respectively, the Yankees’ pitching in general has been strong. Solid enough to overcome their stagnant offense, at least.

The Yankees didn’t do much to augment their rotation this offseason, instead relying on low-cost, injury plagued veterans with upside (Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon). Kluber tossed a no-hitter but now is expected to be sidelined for a couple of months with a shoulder injury. Taillon still is trying to find consistency.

Jordan Montgomery and Domingo German have helped stabilize the rotation beyond Cole, but Luis Severino, much like Chris Sale in Boston, is the ultimate wild card for New York. Severino, like Sale, is working toward a return after undergoing Tommy John surgery and could provide a boost this summer.

6. Aaron Boone might be on the hot seat.
Boone’s keister probably cooled off a bit when the Yankees started bouncing back from their dismal start to the season. But now, New York enters its series with Boston having dropped seven of its last 10 games.

This isn’t to say the Yankees will fire Boone. He’s definitely facing mounting pressure, though, whereas his counterpart in Boston, Alex Cora, has drawn almost universal praise since returning to the dugout.

Thumbnail photo via Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Bruins vs. New York Islanders
Previous Article

Islanders Complimentary Of Bruins’ ‘Dangerous’ Second Line

Yankee Stadium
Next Article

Red Sox, Yankees Battle For First Time In 2021 Season At Yankee Stadium

Picked For You