The stakes haven’t been this high for a Mets/Yankees series since the 2000 World Series. Both New York clubs are in the heat of a divisional race and every game is crucial. Here are the pitching matchups and players to watch as their three-game set kicks off at Citi Field this weekend.
Masahiro Tanaka will get the ball for the Bombers in the series opener on Friday night. Tanaka is coming off a brilliant start against Toronto in which he shut out the Blue Jays in seven innings while allowing just four hits and striking out seven. Tanaka blanked the Mets when he faced them in May of last season, going the distance while surrendering just four hits. Newest Met Yoenis Cespedes has seen Tanaka the most and has been somewhat effective, going 3-for-10 with a walk and two RBIs. Steven Matz responds for the Mets, and after struggling with a blister two starts ago he was a little better against the Braves in his last start; in five innings he gave up six hits but just one run on a solo homer. Matz struck out only two batters but forced 13 ground ball outs. Patience will be the key for the Yankees as they face Matz for the first time; the southpaw has allowed at least two walks in each of his four career starts.
The series continues on Saturday afternoon as Michael Pineda squares off with Noah Syndergaard. Pineda has had trouble keeping the ball in the park since returning from a DL stint of August 26, surrendering five home runs in his last four starts. The Mets were red-hot coming into the Bronx for a series in April but Pineda was able to cool them off; he went 7.2 innings on April 24 and gave up just five hits and one earned run in a victory. Syndergaard’s first start of September was a masterful performance against the Braves where he allowed just one run on two hits in seven innings while striking out eight. The Yankees will have their hands full trying to figure out “Thor” at home, where he is 7-1 with a 2.15 ERA in 10 starts.
Sunday night’s finale will see C.C. Sabathia doing battle with Matt Harvey. Sabathia’s struggles on the year have been well documented but his last start was great; he went 6.2 strong innings against the Rays and allowed no runs to come across. Sabathia has some surprisingly good numbers against some of the Mets’ more recent acquisitions; Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Cuddyer, and Juan Uribe have only 21 hits combined against the lefty in 116 total ABs. His former teammate, Curtis Granderson, is just 4-for-22 against him. I would expect Juan Lagares and Kelly Johnson to get spot starts on Sunday night, as both of them have hit Sabathia well in the past (Lagares is 3-for-3 and Johnson is 5-for-15). Harvey has faced the Yankees twice in his young career and he stumped the Bombers on both occasions; all told Harvey has pitched 16.2 innings against the Yankees and allowed just three runs on 11 hits with two walks and 17 strikeouts. Mark Teixeira’s absence will be felt in this game, as he is 3-for-4 with a home run in his career against “The Dark Knight”. Jacoby Ellsbury, who is trying to fight his way out of massive September slump (currently batting .123 on the month), was 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Harvey back in April.
Probables for Yankees/Mets:
Friday – Masahiro Tanaka (12-6, 3.40) vs. Steven Matz (3-0, 1.88)
Saturday – Michael Pineda (10-8, 4.25) vs. Noah Syndergaard (8-6, 3.20)
Sunday – C.C. Sabathia (4-9, 4.93) vs. Matt Harvey (12-7, 2.88)