The Red Sox and Yankees prepare to duel once again
This weekend is shaping up to be pretty important for the Red Sox and their 2022 playoff hopes. In the month of June, they were damn near unstoppable but as soon as the calendar flipped to July the train has come off the tracks. Losing two out of three to the Rays at Fenway has set the table for a four-game homestand against the white-hot New York Yankees. First up on the mound for Boston will be rookie righty Josh Winckowski.
Big Winck came to Boston as a piece in the three-team deal that also brought Franchy Cordero to town and return for Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City. The 24-year-old split time between Portland and Worcester in 2021 and has been on a similar path in 2022 but splitting Worcester and Boston.
He has shown plenty of positive strides with the Red Sox and in a time when the starting rotation is in shambles, he’s been a solid arm to call on.
The right-hander has started in five games this season and while they haven’t all been pretty, his first outing saw him last just three innings while serving up four earned runs and a trip of walks, he has settled down greatly since.
In fact, he’s pitched at least five innings in his last four starts and has only given up five earned since that debut against Baltimore. Much like Brayan Bello last night, the Fenway nerves were definitely there, but those are long gone now.
Prior to tonight’s clash with the Yankees, Winckowski owns a 3.12 ERA through 26 innings with a 1.385 WHIP and 2.96 FIP. Some were ready to write him off when he got pulled from that Orioles game with a 12.00 ERA, hopefully, they’ve changed their tune.
Winck has the tools to be a Major League starter and has shown that he can adapt and adjust to what he’s seeing from the opposition and what he’s feeling on the mound. And again, he’s only 24, there’s plenty of time to continue growing.
That brings us to tonight, in what may be one of the first “must-win” games of the season. I don’t really want to break the glass on that term yet but after dropping three straight series it sort of feels right. I think it’s safe to say that catching the Yankees at this point would take a serious miracle and that the Wild Card is our ticket to the postseason. The Red Sox have coughed up their WC lead and are now tied with the Rays for that top spot with the Jays and Guardians chomping at the bit.
Not only do they have to show some fight in this series but they need to walk away with some wins and that starts tonight. It’s one thing to get bested by the other team but it’s another when you give the game away and that’s exactly what the Red Sox have been doing lately.
The offense is back to its April coldness and a handful of relievers seem to have forgotten where the strike zone is. Boston simply cannot afford to continue falling down the standings, especially during this part of the schedule.
Winckowski will be tested tonight as he’s never been tested before. While Aaron Judge may not be in the lineup to start the game it doesn’t mean Aaron Boone won’t call his number if the game is close. The Yankees don’t need to beat the Red Sox, they want to beat the Red Sox.
They haven’t forgotten about last October and they want to make them pay. I have zero problems giving them credit where it’s due, their pitching staff has remained healthy and effective while their bats don’t miss a night of work. Josh is going to have his work cut out for him.
That all being said, we’re not exactly some bottom-feeding team that’s already eliminated. We have power in our lineup, we do have relievers that can shut down even the best hitters, and our squad has a belief that they’re never out of the fight. The Red Sox can set the tone for this series by not just coming out swinging but by having Winckowski shut them down. That’s easier said than done as you never know what a pitcher has until they hit the mound, but I have faith, and so should you.