MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

Yankees Series Preview August 14-17

The Mets (53-62) make the short trek into the Bronx on Monday to face their crosstown rivals in this year’s edition of the unofficial Subway Series, at a time where both clubs are playing for very different stakes.

When the schedule was released over the winter, many looked at this week as a potential showcase for the rebuilding Yankees (61-55) and their young stars and another important series for the Mets as they make a run towards their third straight postseason.

Instead we’re looking at the polar opposite in a four-game set that will be split between the two boroughs, with the Yankees holding the league’s top Wild Card spot and sitting 5.5 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East. The Mets, meanwhile, have all but conceded their season by trading away a number of key veterans and promoting highly-touted prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith to play on a regular basis.

After taking three of four in Philadelphia and winning their first series in just over three weeks, all eyes will be on the Mets’ infield neophytes as they get their first taste of the annual Big Apple showdown.

Fresh off a crushing extra-innings defeat to the Red Sox on Sunday night, the Yankees will look to gain some ground in their division before visiting Fenway Park for a crucial series this upcoming weekend.

The Yankees have a 62-46 record against the Mets in regular season play.

When and Where

Game 1: Monday @ 7:05 p.m. EST at Yankee Stadium (TV: SNY, ESPN, YES; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)

Game 2: Tuesday @ 7:05 p.m. EST at Yankee Stadium (TV: SNY, WPIX; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)

Game 3: Wednesday @ 7:10 p.m. EST at Citi Field (TV: SNY, ESPN, YES; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)

Game 4: Thursday @ 7:10 p.m. EST at Citi Field (TV: WPIX, YES, MLBN (out of market only); RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)

Baseball Weather

Monday: Cloudy with a slight chance of a rain shower and a low around 70F; Winds between 5-10 mph
Tuesday: Partly cloudy with a low around 70F; Winds between 5-10 mph
Wednesday: Party cloudy with a low of 68F; Winds between 5-10 mph
Thursday: Cloudy with a low of 72F; Winds between 10-15 mph; Periods of rain after midnight

Probable Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Rafael Montero (1-8, 6.06 ERA, 5.90 DRA, .313 TAv, -0.3 WARP) vs. RHP Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.83 ERA, 5.59 DRA, .272 TAv, -0.1 WARP)

In the least appealing matchup of the quartet, Montero will look to rebound after dropping his fourth straight decision behind three innings of four-run ball on Wednesday against Texas. The 26-year-old lost his big league debut against the Yankees back in May 2014 at Citi Field, allowing three runs on five hits over six innings, which included solo homers by Yangervis Solarte and Mark Teixeira.

Cessa returns to the rotation after CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka were both placed on the DL over the weekend. The Mets traded Cessa to Detroit on deadline day in 2015, along with All-Star hurler Michael Fulmer, for slugger Yoenis Cespedes. Cessa did not last more than five innings in each of his previous four starts this season.

Tuesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (13-5, 3.21 ERA, 2.85 DRA, .234 TAv, 4.6 WARP) vs. RHP Sonny Gray (6-7, 3.39 ERA, 3.06 DRA, .230 TAv, 3.0 WARP)

If you had to pick one game to watch this week, Tuesday night’s tilt would be the obvious choice, as each team sends a marquee right-hander to the hill. deGrom snapped a brief two-game skid on Thursday, shutting out the lowly Phillies over 6.2 innings while striking out nine. He left early after being struck in the right arm by a line drive, suffering a significant bruise. X-rays were negative.

The shaggy-haired ace lost his only appearance at Yankee Stadium, surrendering three long balls over five frames. He is 1-2 with a 3.32 ERA in three career starts against the Bombers.

Gray has lost both starts since being acquired from Oakland two weeks ago, despite pitching fairly well in each. The former first-round pick was the victim of shoddy defense in his debut outing with New York, and has also shown some wildness by walking 7 in 12 innings. The Vanderbilt alum has never faced the Mets.

Wednesday: LHP Jaime Garcia (5-8, 4.50 ERA, 4.97 DRA, .261 TAv, 0.9 WARP) vs. RHP Seth Lugo (5-3, 4.85 ERA, 6.39 DRA, .291 TAv, -0.6 WARP)

Another recent acquisition, Garcia has a 6.97 ERA (8 ER in 10.1 IP) in two outings with the Yankees. The veteran southpaw has struck out 10 batters over that span, however. Garcia is 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts vs. the Mets.

Lugo has struggled of late, allowing 13 runs on 20 hits and 6 walks in 16 innings across his last three outings, despite fanning 18. Opponents have a .910 OPS against the sophomore starter during that span.

Thursday: RHP Luis Severino (9-5, 3.32 ERA, 2.98 DRA, .224 TAv, 4.2 WARP) vs. LHP Steven Matz (2-6, 5.54 ERA, 6.15 DRA, .292 TAv, -0.4 WARP)

Severino follows up the worst outing of his young career, charged with 10 runs (8 earned) over 4.1 innings against Boston on Saturday – highlighted by two homers off the bat of rookie Andrew Benintendi. Prior to that blip on the radar, the Yankees had won six straight outings by the 23-year-old, a dominating stretch over which Severino struck out 48 in 39.2 innings and held opponents to a .186 AVG, resulting in a minuscule 1.36 ERA.

Matz pitched better his last time out, allowing two runs over 5.2 innings in Philadelphia. It wasn’t enough to snap his losing streak, though, now at a career high-tying five straight.

Who’s Hot?

Mets IF Wilmer Flores (1.067 OPS in 15 plate appearances at Citizens Bank Park)

Mets OF Curtis Granderson (5-for-15 with 2 HRs and 5 RBIs since Thursday)

Mets LF Yoenis Cespedes (.357 AVG and 1.214 OPS over his last three games)

Mets OF Michael Conforto (3 home runs in Philadelphia)

Yankees C Gary Sanchez (7-for-19 (.368) with 2 home runs during five-game hitting streak)

Yankees 3B/1B Chase Headley (.310 AVG (9-for-29) since August 4)

Who’s Not?

Mets OF Brandon Nimmo (1-for-12 in August)

Mets C Travis d’Arnaud (3 hits in his last 25 at-bats (.120 AVG))

Yankees RF Aaron Judge (.596 OPS with 20 strikeouts in 38 at-bats this month, and at least one strikeout in 30 straight games)

Yankees OF Brett Gardner (8-for-48 (.167) in August with 1 extra-base hit)

Yankees 3B Todd Frazier (1 hit in 12 plate appearances vs. Boston)

When We Last Met

The crosstown rivals split four a year ago, with the Mets losing the first and taking the second game in each ballpark. The victory in Queens came on the strength of seven shutout frames by deGrom, while Bartolo Colon earned the win at Yankee Stadium with 6.2 innings of one-run ball – a game in which Jeurys Familia notched his league-leading 38th save on August 4.

The Yankees were 54-54 at the end of the series and sat in fourth place, 7.5 games off the pace in the AL East. The Mets were 56-52, good for third place and an eight-game deficit in the NL East at the time.

It’s Literally a 10-Day DL

Mets: RHP Matt Harvey (stress injury in right shoulder) made his first rehab appearance on Saturday for Class-A Brooklyn at Hudson Valley, allowing a run on one hit and one walk in just one inning. Harvey threw 18 pitches, 7 for strikes, and topped out at 93 mph on the radar gun.

Yankees: 1B Greg Bird (right ankle surgery) and 2B Starlin Castro (right hamstring strain) are both expected to begin rehab assignments later this week.

Notable Quotables

“Two years ago, we thought he could hit 30 home runs. We saw the power. What you’re seeing this year is he’s so consistent, the swing is so consistent that it’s starting to show. You’re going to look at a guy who’s got a chance to hit 30 homers and wasn’t even in the lineup in April, and that speaks volumes.” – Mets manager Terry Collins discussing Michael Conforto’s big weekend in Philadelphia

“There’s really no substitute for getting all your at-bats, being out there every day. That does a lot for a player to just feel comfortable in the box every day.” – Conforto following Sunday’s 6-2 victory

“I think you can throw out the records in that series… It’s an exciting time. It’s exciting for the city and we’re anxious to get going.” – Collins on facing the Yankees

“They’ve had their injury problems as well, especially to that rotation where they’ve lost a number of guys that have been out for a while. The back end of their bullpen has had injuries and other issues so sometimes you can draw it up on paper but you’ve got to keep your guys healthy.” – Yankees manager Joe Girardi on the Mets struggles after being expected to contend this season

Photo credit: Wendell Cruz – USA Today Sports

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