Tonight, the New York Yankees enter a near must sweep series with the lowly Texas Rangers. The Rangers are playing .369 baseball, with the Yankees still trying to get a berth in a one-game wild-card playoff; they must dominate starting right now. Of the Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees have the most difficult schedule remaining. After this Texas series, the Yankees play the Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays, and finally, the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays.
Editorially speaking, after the last two really embarrassing losses, the Boo Birds are out in full force; they actually booed off the field their best starting pitcher of the season. Social media is packed with advice on who should be fired. This is not the time for boos. This is the time to root on the New York Yankees; they still have a chance at a wild-card berth and a 28th World Championship.
The Yankees unexplainably have played some of their best baseball of the season and their worst recently. The Yankee pitching is in shambles, they have been playing sloppy baseball, and the hitters have been inconsistent at best. But this is still a team that can show power and win games. This team has turned it around before and can do it again.
The Texas Rangers have had a dreadful season. Before the season, they lost some key players, including Corey Kluber. As a result, they sit at the bottom of the AL West, losing 94 games and winning only 55. Going into this series, the Yankees will have the ERA advantage against each Texas Ranger starter. The Yankees should dominate and sweep the Rangers, but at least they must take the series to have any hope of advancing.
Tonight, September 20, 7:05 pm EDT
Tonight, Nestor Cortes Jr., who has been a Godsend for the Yankees, will take the mound in the first game of the series. Cortes is a lefty that is 2-2 with an ERA of 2.60 and 87 strikeouts. The Yankees have won 6 of his last nine starts, and he is coming off of one of his best starts of the year. He went into the seventh inning, striking out a season-high 11 Orioles batters. First baseman Nathaniel Lowe is the only Ranger that has been successful off Cortes.
Cortes will face the Texas Rangers’ A. J. Alexy, a righty that is 2-0 with an ERA of 3.68 and 14 strikeouts in three starts. The Rangers needed a starter, and Alexy was promoted from the minors to the Rangers on August 30. He is coming off a 15-1 loss to the Houston Astros when he gave up 6 earned runs in 3.2 innings of work. No Yankee has ever faced Alexy.
Tuesday, September 21, 7:05 pm EDT
Tuesday night, the Yankees will bring Jordan Montgomery to the mound in the second game of the series. “Monty” is a lefty that is 5-6 with an ERA of 3.63 with 149 strikeouts. Montgomery has pitched much better than the record would suggest; he has gotten little run support in his games. He was the Yankees winningest pitcher for a time but seemed to have tired adjusting to a 162 game season. The Yankees have lost his last three starts, although he got a season-high 12 strikeouts in his last outing against the Orioles.
Montgomery will face Dane Dunning, a righty that is 5-8 with a 4.28 ERA and 103 strikeouts. This will be Dunning’s 22 start of the season, and he is coming off a loss to the Boston Red Sox. He gave up 5 earned runs in 4.2 innings of work. Dunning is a sinkerball pitcher that throws in three other pitches. He relies on getting ground-outs. Few Yankees have had much experience with him.
Wednesday, September 22, 7:05 pm EDT
Wednesday night’s starter for the Yankees will be Corey Kluber, building since his return from a three-month stint on the IL with a sore shoulder. He is 5-3 with an ERA of 3.68 and 76 strikeouts in 14 starts. He got the Yankees only no-hitter earlier in the season since David Cone’s perfect game in 1999. He is coming off his best start since that no-hitter when he shut out the Cleveland Indians 8-0. This will be the second time Kluber has faced his former team. In the first game, Kluber pitched a complete-game win.
Kluber will face the Rangers, Taylor Hearn. Hearn is a lefty that is 6-5 with an ERA of 4.52 and 87 strikeouts. Hearn had won two games in September but is coming off his worst game of the season when he gave up 7 earned runs in just 3.1 innings against the Chicago White Sox. Few Yankees have seen Hearn pitch.
Notes: The Yankees have sent down to Scranton both Luis Gil and Clarke Schmidt. But the Yankees could get some reinforcements as early as today. Joey Gallo is expected back from his sore neck, and 2018 pitching ace Luis Severino is expected to rejoin the team during this series, most likely working out of the bullpen.
All of the Texas Rangers games will be televised on the YES Network and Bally Sports Southwest. Tonight’s game will also be on the MLBN out of market.