Posted on October 8, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine

New York Yankees Aaron Judge

Image via newsday.com

Of the four division series of the MLB postseason, the Yankees and Red Sox had the distinction of being the only one in which the two teams split the first two games. The Red Sox hung on for the win in Game 1 for the Yankees were quick to respond in Game 2 to even the series. That sets up a pivotal Game 3 for both sides Monday night in the Bronx.

Bullpen Magic

Through two games, both teams have gotten exactly seven innings of work from their starting pitcher. That has left both bullpens to do a lot of the heavy lifting. In those two games, the Yankees, as expected, have proven to have the much better bullpen. In 10 innings of work, New York’s bullpen has allowed just one run on six hits. Meanwhile, in their 11 innings of work, Boston’s bullpen has yielded five runs on 10 hits. That’s a considerable difference, especially since both teams have already used their best starting pitchers. The good news for both sides is that Sunday’s off-day should allow both bullpens to be well-rested for Monday’s game.

Pitching Matchup

Luis Severino will draw the start for Monday’s Game 3. He’ll be pitching on regular rest after giving the Yankees four shutout innings against Oakland in last week’s Wild Card Game. Severino looked sharp in that outing, although he walked four in four innings, which forced him out of the game early. He made five starts against the Red Sox this season with mixed results. However, when he faced them at Yankee Stadium in September, he allowed just one run on six hits over seven innings. The Yankees would gladly take any start remotely resembling that one.

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The Red Sox, meanwhile, will give the ball to former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi, who they picked up in a July trade with the Rays. Eovaldi missed all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery. However, he’s come back from the surgery in impressive fashion, going 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA. He’s actually been better since the trade to Boston, posting a 3.33 ERA in 11 starts and one relief outing. During a start at Yankee Stadium in mid-September, Eovaldi tossed six shutout innings while allowing just two hits, so he shouldn’t be intimidated by facing New York’s lineup.

X-Factor

If the Red Sox need an X-factor in Game 3, it could be Eduardo Nunez. With Rafael Devers 0 for 12 in his career against Severino, Nunez is likely to get the start at third base despite being 0 for 7 in the series. Nunez is 5 for 18 (.278) with a couple of doubles in his career against Severino, so he’s had some success against him. The trio of J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Xander Bogaerts have been responsible for most of the offense through two games. As a result, the Red Sox desperately need players like Nunez at the bottom of their order to contribute.

For the Yankees, the X-factor could be Didi Gregorius. Remember, a couple of weeks ago, he was questionable to play in the postseason after tearing some cartilage in his wrist. He’s now 2 for 11 in three postseason games, which is a slight cause for concern. However, he has the most at-bats against Eovaldi of any Yankee, going 5 for 15 with two extra-base hits. That could make Gregorius a key figure in Game 3 and someone the Yankees would like to see get it going offensively.

Prediction

After winning Game 2, the Yankees definitely have the momentum in this series as they come home to Yankee Stadium for the next two games. Both starters have a chance to give their teams a quality start in Game 3. However, it’s inevitably going to come down to each team’s bullpen, where the Yankees have a distinct edge. New York wins 6-4.

Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.

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