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Thoughts on Yankees’ Win vs. Padres and Upcoming Showdown with the Red Sox

The warm-up for the Yankees has officially ended. After hitting four home runs behind a dominant James Paxton and bullpen, the Yankees head into their four-game set with the Red Sox with an rare easy, 7-0 win over the Padres. The win caps off an 8-2 stretch in which the Bombers averaged 7 runs per game, despite only two wins of more than four runs.

This win is especially impressive as it came against one of the best young starting pitchers in MLB. Chris Paddack had come into his start at Yankees Stadium with a 1.93 ERA while allowing fewer than five hits per nine innings (4.9 to be exact) and striking out more than five batters for each walk. In a game defined by the long ball, Paddack had allowed four home runs in 51.1 innings.

Well, the Bombers nearly doubled that total in the first two innings, as DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit homered back-to-back to start the game and Gio Urshela added another to put the Yankees up early. They would score four times against Paddack and forced the rookie to exit after five innings. Gleyber Torres would add a two-run shot off former teammate Adam Warren in the seventh to put the cheery on this one. After a pedestrian showing on Tuesday, the Bombers rebounded well against one of the best pitchers in the game. This fortitude will be necessary against an offensive juggernaut like Boston.

Here are a few other key takeaways before the Yankees square off with their rivals.

WELCOME BACK BIG MAPLE:

James Paxton’s return from the injure list, while brief, was everything Yankees fans should hope for. In his four-inning return, Paxton struck out 7 Padres while allowing only two walks and no hits.

More importantly, Paxton’s delivery was consistent and showed no issues with his knee. This would have been evident if you watched just one inning in his outing, as you would have seen him hit the mid-90s with his fastball and generate swings and misses on all of his pitches.

Overall, Paxton caused 17 swings and misses over course of his 66-pitch outing, in which he threw 40 strikes. Again, while his first outing was short, Paxton was making his first start in A almost a month. There is no need for the Yankees to rush Paxton back to throwing complete games. Paxton is crucial to the Yankee’s quest for a championship, so giving him a few starts to build up his pitch count is fine, especially when he’s getting a swing-and-a-miss on more than a quarter of his pitches.

BULLPEN SOLID AGAIN

A major factor in the Bomber’s success this season has come because of their bullpen. The same could be said in this series against the Padres, as the Bomber’s bullpen only allowed two runs all series – with both of those runs coming in David Hale’s first inning on Monday.

Importantly, the Bombers got strong performances from Chad Green and Jonathan Holder. The two cogs form last season have gone off to slow starts in 2019. Green certainly has returned to form against San Diego, throwing two scoreless innings while raking up 4 strikeouts.

Holder, while not pitching to the lows of Green, has been inconsistent all season, with one stinker coming after each success. Maybe his two scoreless innings against the Friars on Wednesday will be a turning point. In addition, despite a high ERA (4.55 after Wednesday), Holder’s strong peripherals (9.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9) suggest that he may be either pitching below his expectations or that he might be having some bad luck. Either way, there are signs that he could turn things around at any time.

The Yankees sure need these two to return to form quickly. With the Red Sox surging offensively, the Yankees need every arm they have ready to go. A strong Green and Holder in the middle of the bullpen adds much needed depth against a strong lineup filled with great right-handed power.

A BIGGER OPPONENT:

While the Padres are an improved team, they are still miles behind the reigning World Champions. The Red Sox have dug themselves out of a miserable start to push themselves back into third place in the American League East and are currently tied with the Athletics for the second Wild Card.

While they are not playing up to their 2018 level, the Red Sox are still a fantastic team. Their offense is still phenomenal, with Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, Xander Boegarts, and Andrew Benintendi continuing their strong performances from last season. Couple that with breakout performances from Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis, and Christian Vasquez and Boston has one of the deadliest lineups in MLB.

The clear weakness for this team is pitching, which is not the train wreck Boston fans saw at the beginning of the season. Chris Sale and Rick Porcello have both improved in May (Sale has a 2.23 ERA this month, while Porcello is at 3.34) to anchor their rotation. David Price, once considered a joke in Boston, is continuing his renaissance in Beantown with a 2.83 ERA. All three starters are scheduled to face the Bombers this week. The bullpen is stronger than anticipated with the loss of Craig Kimbrel. Matt Barnes has taken charge at the top with 39 strikeouts in 21.2 innings and a 2.08 ERA.

This just means that the Yankees are playing with the big boys now. Going 8-2 against the Orioles, Royals, and Padres is great, but to say the Yankees dominated this stretch would be a lie. The Bombers trailed by five runs twice in this stretch against the last-place Orioles and Royals, with seven of their ten games decided by three runs or less.

This is not meant to detract from their strong play, but even with a myriad of injuries, the Yankees have room to improve. Performances like yesterday’s show that the Yankees are capable of doing more and playing with the best. Now, it’s time to put it all together and own their home turf against the Red Sox.

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