One of the most storied rivalries in MLB history is the one between the Yankees and the Red Sox. Some of the players that have been involved in this rilvarly are Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Derek Jeter, and David Ortiz, who have all led their teams against each other. Although recently the rivalry has not been the same, especially since neither team have been in the playoff hunt at the same time for a while. However, right now both teams are at the top of the AL East fighting for the division title. This year brings more young talent to the table with the likes of Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez. The Yankees had the upper hand on the Sox in the first half, but the Sox have won back to back series to pull within one more win to tie up the season series. One thing that can be attributed to the recent skid against the Sox is the play of a couple of their stars, Aaron Judge and Aroldis Chapman.
In the first half against the Red Sox, Aaron Judge was 6 for 16 (.375) with 4 walks, 8 strikeouts, a homer and a couple of RBIs. So not a huge sample size for one half, but now let us look at his second half stats against Boston. He is 3 for 42 (.071) with no homers, no RBIs, 8 walks and 17 strikeouts. Combined he’s slashing .155/.310/.224, not an ideal stat line at all for a guy who is positioned to be one of the main producers in their lineup. He continues to struggle against lefties in the second half as he only has 1 hit in 29 At-bats against them. He is also having trouble recognizing off-speed pitches like he did in the first half and not really taking advantage as much of pitches right in his wheelhouse. Judge just simply is not doing much in run scoring opportunities, which really hurts the team when facing a division rival like the Red Sox .The offense is already struggling as it is so when you have one of your top guys not doing much at the plate. You are obviously not going to score many runs when struggling in these situations and that will lead to losses.
Now we move on to the Yankees closer, or I rather should say “former” closer, Aroldis Chapman. In just 8 appearances over 7.2 innings of work against the Sox he has pitched to an ERA of 8.22, has allowed 7 hits and 11 walks, while only converting 3 saves in 5 opportunities. It has been a common theme lately for Chapman, but when he pitches against the Red Sox he lacks control of his pitches and seems to be very erratic. In his first outing this weekend, he pitched an inning while giving up 2 hits, 2 earned runs, walked a batter, and threw 23 pitches. That awful outing lead to his demotion of the closer role, which he understood and just wanted to help the team win. He bounced back in his next outing by pitching 1.1 scoreless innings while pitching the earliest he has in a game since 2011. The Yankees’ bullpen in the second half has been pretty good, but when you arepaying someone $86 million to close out your games and he is not doing his job, it presents a huge problem for the team.
Entering Tuesday, the Yankees find themselves 4.5games out of first place in the AL East with under 40 games to play. If they really want to gain some ground and pass the Sox in the division these two guys will really need to step up, make adjustments, and produce to their potential. I believe if they start to do that, we will be right back in it before the playoffs begin.