Thoughts on both teams before tonight’s series begins against the Red Sox – June 27th, 2014:

Yankees:

Impression Lately: The team has been up and down in just about every way. They took 3 of 3 from Toronto at home, dropped 2 of 3 to Baltimore at home and dropped 2 of 3 in Toronto. They are 5-5 in their last 10, which suggests up and down-ness. I don’t think it’s possible to have any explicit expectation of the team going into this series other than “Tanaka’s start should be good.”

Thing I’m Expecting: Vidal Nuno will likely give up a homerun. He’s in Yankee Stadium and that’s his thing (he’s surrendered 15 HR and has started 12 games). He’s a southpaw and the Red Sox have a righty heavy lineup with Pedroia, Napoli, Gomes and Bogaerts all presenting power from that side of the plate.

Thing I Hope to See: Vidal Nuno give up only one solo homerun, preferably to someone like Bogaerts who I haven’t had enough time to develop deep-seated hatred for. Beyond that, I’d take 5 innings of 3 ER or less from Nuno. Even that is probably asking way too much.

Player I Want To Watch: It would be nice to see Brian McCann do something positive off Brandon Workman, the Red Sox right handed starting pitcher. I understand that he hits into the shift often and his numbers are career lows, but if there’s a time to get it going its now, against an in-division team and a right handed starting pitcher with a career HR/9 of 0.83. The short porch beckons, Brian. Won’t you heed the call?

Red Sox:

Impression Lately: Like the Yankees, the Red Sox are 5-5 over their last 10 games. They are coming off a series in which they dropped 2 of 3 to Seattle and were outscored 24-10. Prior to that, they’d dropped 3 straight to Oakland, with all of those games being decided by 2 runs or less. They’re in 4th place (36-43) in the division and look like a shell of the team who won the World Series last year. Perhaps that’s because they lost Jacoby Ellsbury and replaced him with Jackie Bradley, Jr., who is sporting a comical wRC+ of 63 and a cute slash line of .211/.292/.302 over 261 PA.

Thing I’m Expecting Tonight: I expect the Red Sox to force Nuno to throw strikes. Beyond that, I have little expectations with regard to the Red Sox. They’re a bit enigmatic so far, with a -31 run differential, which is better than the Yankees (-34) despite being 5 games worse in the standings.

Player I’m Interested in Seeing: I know it’s sacrilege to enjoy watching anyone on the Red Sox, but Xander Bogaerts is developing into a special player already. Bogaerts has a slash line of .256/.338/.388 and an ISO of .132. He’s only 21 years old. He also wears #2 to honor Derek Jeter, whom he idolized growing up, which is apropos of very little, strategically speaking.

Player I’m Afraid Of: Tonight, it’s Napoli. On most nights, it would be Ortiz. But Nuno is a lefty, so I’m going to go ahead and fear the fat, bearded 1B over the fat, bearded DH. Napoli currently leads the team in OBP (.391) and OPS (.844) to go along with his 136 wRC+. He’s second on the team in WAR (1.9), just behind Dustin Pedroia (2.0). Napoli is hitting .327 off LHP with 1 HR, 6 RBI and 14 BB in 70 PA. Once again, Nuno is a LHP who is prone to giving up long balls. So again, tonight I am afraid of Mike Napoli.