Boone On WFAN: Yanks-Sox Will Have 'Special Atmosphere'

Mike's On
June 28, 2018 - 6:26 pm
Tyler Austin starts a scrum with Joe Kelly during the seventh inning at Fenway Park.

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By WFAN.com

The 2018 MLB season is not even at its midway point, but that doesn't take away from the importance of this weekend's series between the Yankees and Red Sox. 

After winning seven of eight games, New York hit a rough patch last weekend, losing all three contests in Tampa Bay against the Rays. The Yankees were then able to win two of three in Philadelphia, helping to get the team back on track before this weekend's showdown against Boston.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone joined WFAN Thursday to discuss this weekend's big series against the franchise's biggest rival.

"We're obviously coming off a little bit of a difficult trip, or I should say a difficult three days in Tampa," Boone told Mike Francesa. "We kind of righted the ship a little bit in Philly and had a good series..."

"We know they're a great team," the Yankees manager said about the rival Red Sox. "They're tough. When we played them in May in the series in the Bronx, the place was rocking. It felt like the playoffs and it was May. You could feel and sense that environment... We certainly respect them. We're looking forward to this series. For being June and July, I think it's going to have that special atmosphere because I think everyone realizes how good both teams can potentially be."

A big reason for New York's success this season has been the performance of the bullpen. The Yankees' relievers have pitched 271.2 innings this season, earning a 2.68 ERA (second in the AL) and a league-leading 363 strikeouts and .193 batting average against.

Aroldis Chapman enters this weekend's series tied with Boston closer Craig Kimbrel for the second-most saves in all of baseball with 23. In 35.0 innings this season, the 30-year-old has allowed a mere five runs on 15 hits, earning a 1.29 ERA and 0.86 WHIP with a whopping 60 strikeouts.

Chapman is not the only New York reliever enjoying a good season. Dellin Betances (2.83 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 62 K in 35.0 innings), David Robertson (3.47 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 44 K in 36.1 innings) Chad Green (2.17 ERA, 51 K, 10 holds in 37.1 innings), and Jonathan Holder (1.78 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 30 K in 30.1 innings) have all played significant roles in the Yankees' success.

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Chasen Shreve, who has pitched to a 5.00 ERA this year, serves as the one of the only lefties currently in the team's bullpen. Despite that fact, Boone said he doesn't care much about getting the lefty-lefty matchup, as he feels more confident with his big relievers in high-leverage situations.

"I think anytime we're in a leverage spot where our 'pen is well-rested -whether that's Holder, Green, Robertson, Betances, or Chapman- anywhere from really the 5th or 6th on, where those guys are well-rested, those guys are going to be the guys that get the big outs when we're in a tight game or have a lead," Boone said Thursday.

"I don't use Shreve as kind of that matchup lefty. When he's right, he's able to neutralize both [righties and lefties>. But I'd put him in that middle or lower leverage situation, or when we're trying to stay away from a particular guy because of overwork."

With every game against the Red Sox holding a little extra significance, the Yankees are relieved to have their "Big Three" on the mound this weekend. 

The ageless CC Sabathia, who takes the ball in the series opener Friday, is in the midst of yet another strong campaign, going 4-3 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 14 starts. Sonny Gray gets the start on Saturday, as the right-hander has shown signs of improvement over his last few outings after his rocky start to the year. Yankees ace Luis Severino will look to pick up his league-leading 13th win Sunday night as he continues his push towards a Cy Young Award.

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 "I feel good. Sonny's coming of an outing where he got dinged a little bit in the first couple of innings, but really settled in and pitched really well," the manager said when asked how he felt about his starting pitchers this weekend. "Hopefully he can build on that and follow up and go out and have a good home start for us on Saturday.

"CC we backed off yesterday so he could get the extra day. He's gone a couple of times on only four days rest, so to give him the six day rest, pitching on the seventh day, we feel will benefit him... And then we're going to bring Severino back on normal rest on the Sunday night game."

The Yankees and Red Sox begin their three-game series in the Bronx Friday night, with CC Sabathia facing off against Eduardo Rodriguez.