Series Preview: Bronx Bombers Come Knocking
Image courtesy of © Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsBrief Overview:
New York took two of three against Minnesota earlier this season in the Bronx, but the run differential separated the clubs by only two. The Yankees are the only American League team with a run differential better than the Twins (+138) and Aaron Boone’s savages have done the majority of their damage without the help of their biggest names.
What They Do Well:
As you’d expect with any good team, there’s very little that New York doesn’t do at an above average clip. The have a top 10 offense across baseball, and own a pitching staff that slots in right behind the Twins at 5th overall. Boone’s club has plenty of bombers, and while they are well behind the Minnesota tally in dingers they round out the top five.
The Yankees are a patient group and that’s evident in their 4th best walk rate across Major League Baseball. On top of being able to drive the ball deep and score at a high clip, they’ll make pitchers work and settle for free passes.
No team in baseball is better getting out of jams than the Yankees. A 76.8% strand rate is indicative of a team that can handle high-pressure situations, and routinely tilts the scales in their favor. Touting the best bullpen in the game by a wide margin, your best bet is to get ahead early and not give up a lead.
What They Do Not Do Well:
Similar to the New York club that visited from the National League, this Yankees club is not a defensive stalwart. They rank 22nd in baseball from a defensive metric standpoint, and they bring up the rear in shift runs saved. Virtually every team in baseball (save for three this season) is at 0 or better when it comes to shift runs. The idea of shifting is to cut down would be base hits, and in general, the practice serves its purpose. At -6 rTS this season, New York has managed to be completely inept when moving defenders around the diamond.
The Yankees employ a strong defensive outfield, headlined by former Twins centerfielder Aaron Hicks. It’s on the dirt that they are essentially terrible all over the place. Luke Voit is well below average at first base, and Gleyber Torres is negative at second. D.J. LeMahieu is a strong player with the glove, but breakout third basemen Gio Urshella rates poorly and Gary Sanchez is consistently among the worst backstops in baseball. If there was ever an opportunity to reverse course against a bad defensive team after the Mets letdown, this is it for the Twins.
Individuals Of Note:
It’s Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton that typically draw headlines for this squad, but one has missed significant time and the other is still on the Injured List. After leaving Coors Field in free agency a slide was expected for former Rockies second basemen D.J. LeMahieu. Instead he’s having a career year and paces the Yankees in fWAR.
Every year it looks like Brett Gardner may be the old man squeezed out of a spot on the roster, and each season he rises to the challenge. He’s putting up great numbers in 2019 and doing so at the age of 35. Gleyber Torres was the second Yankee considered by most in the AL Rookie of the Year voting a season ago, but arguably had the better campaign. He’s back it up by becoming an All Star in year two and looks the part of a cornerstone for years to come.
The rotation is where New York is a bit soft but big time trade acquisition James Paxton has been plenty strong. He’s been somewhat outshined by youngster Domingo German, but Boone still has more than a few arms he’s comfortable turning the ball loose with.
These two clubs played in the beginning of May with New York taking the series. The Yankees won each of their games by three runs while Minnesota took the middle game by a score of 7-3.
After sending Oakland out with a split the Twins are just 4-6 over their last ten, and they have lost their last two home series. New York comes in winning seven of their last ten, but dropping their last road series. In 2018 Minnesota took the final series from the Bombers winning two of three at Target Field in September.
Right now the largest problem for the Twins has been a consistent offensive output. While starter have gone short and the bullpen is both taxed and undermanned, it’s the bats that carried Minnesota this far. Beating the Yankees isn’t likely going to happen late so Baldelli will need his squad to hop on opposing starters early and often. Byron Buxton could be back, and his presence would be a welcomed one both in the lineup and the outfield.
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