The Yankees are winning the games they are supposed to win. Which is easier said than done.
Sweeping the Guardians last weekend was just the start. The Yankees have plenty of momentum now after brooking the lowly Orioles thanks to strong pitching, timely hitting, and a three-home run game from Anthony Rizzo just for fun.
Now the surging Yankees head to Kansas City to face the Royals, who sit second in the AL Central despite posting a 7-10 record. Even so, this is very much the Yankees’ series to lose. The Royals just lost shortstop Adalberto Mondesi to a torn ACL and otherwise aren’t a great team. It’s another prime opportunity to rack up wins with a trip to Toronto to face the Blue Jays around the corner.
Yankees (13-6) at Royals (7-10)
Time: 8:10 p.m. ET Friday; 7:10 p.m. ET Saturday; 2:10 p.m. ET Sunday
TV: Apple TV+ on Friday; YES on Saturday & Sunday
Probable Pitching Matchups (Yankees pitcher listed first):
- Friday: Nestor Cortes (0-0, 1.15 ERA) vs. Kris Bubic (0-1, 14.14 ERA)
- Saturday: Gerrit Cole (1-0, 4.00) vs. Carlos Hernández (0-0, 6.43)
- Sunday: Luis Severino (2-0, 3.32) vs. Daniel Lynch (2-1, 3.38)
Worth watching: In case you missed it, the Royals have one of baseball’s most exciting prospects in third baseman Bobby Witt Jr. The 21-year-old is on a seven-game hitting streak and raised his batting average to a whopping .206. Witt is still learning the game, but is moving in the right direction. It will be interesting to see how he fares against the Yankees’ elite pitching this weekend.
Key matchup: Yankees fans know outfielder Andrew Benintendi well from the five seasons he spent in Boston. Benintendi clearly has feelings about finishing second to Aaron Judge in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 because he hits the Yankees pretty well. In 63 games against New York, he’s hit .288 with a .828 OPS, and is batting .393 to start the season. Kansas City is the worst-scoring team in the league, so they’ll need Benintendi to be their spark.
X-factor: Josh Donaldson’s Yankees tenure isn’t off to a great start, with the former MVP batting just .197 with two home runs and five RBI. The good news is it’s all bad luck, with Donaldson ranking in the 98th percentile for average exit velocity. Better news is that the Bringer of Rain knows Kauffman Stadium from two years with the Twins and a brief stay in Cleveland. He’s a .276 career hitter against the Royals, and a stronger .319 at the cavernous K.
Donaldson is doing everything right at the plate and making great contact despite less than stellar results. A big series in a stadium he always plays well at could jumpstart his season and make the Yankees lineup all the more dangerous.
Final thoughts and prediction: The Yankees will absolutely win this series. Yet, a sweep seems a bit ambitious even against a team as bad as the Royals. Luis Severino has a 4.42 ERA against Kansas City for his career and, though he won, still got hit hard in his last start versus Baltimore. Expect him to look mortal for the first time in 2022, with Cortes and Cole’s wins bookending the series. Yankees take two of three.