Here are five things to watch for in the series:
Here come the reinforcements
The Yankees have not been at full strength all season, but have done well for themselves. The Bombers sit at 34-24 and, despite a record pace from Tampa Bay, are just six games behind the Rays for first place in the AL East.
So what will happen when they get Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson back? Both former MVPs were activated Thursday and will be in the lineup in some shape or form all weekend. While the lineup composition is something to look out for in all three games, they will be looked upon to contribute to an offense that scored 10 runs in three-of-their-last-four games.
Stanton will also look to provide that protection Aaron Judge needs to continue his MVP-like pace. Fans should have low expectations for both hitters as they re-acclimate to major league pitching but just their presence in the lineup and Donaldson’s defense should prove impactful.
There’s also Tommy Kahnle who was also activated alongside Donaldson and Stanton. Kahnle was pretty good with the Yankees back in 2019 — he pitched to a 3.67 ERA in 72 appearances — before undergoing Tommy John surgery that wiped out his 2021 year.
He then spent 2022 with the Dodgers where he made 13 appearances and pitched to a 2.84 ERA. The Yankees brought back their homegrown pitcher this offseason and now that he’s back from biceps tendinitis, he’ll slide into a bullpen that is one of the best in the league.
Will we see Stanton in the outfield?
Stanton and manager Aaron Boone have both said this season that playing the outfield would benefit the slugger’s health.
The former NL MVP played 38 games in the outfield (34 in right) last year, up from 26 in 2021, and gives Boone that flexibility in the outfield that he so craves. With Harrison Bader on the IL a lineup that has both Judge and Stanton in the outfield would allow for Boone to slot in one of his infielders (Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu) as the DH. It would also give Judge a game as the DH to keep him off his feet here and there.
Now, Boone has already said that Stanton will likely start as the team’s DH when he returns but will we see at least one game in LA with the big man in right or left field? An outfield combination of Stanton, Greg Allen and Judge or the suddenly hot Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Judge and Stanton would be effective.
Potential World Series matchup?
The Yankees and Dodgers haven’t met in the World Series since the 1980s and considering how good both squads have been over the last five-plus years, it’s a bit surprising. But with both teams playing so well — Dodgers sit at 34-23 and tied for the best record in the National League — this weekend’s matchup could be a peek into what’s to come in October.
Now, this season was supposed to be a down year for the Dodgers with many of their big name players leaving. But they’ve kept chugging along behind Mookie Betts (.252/.358/.514) and especially the ageless Freddie Freeman (.346/.420/.588).
And then we have the pitching matchups. Luis Severino will go up against Clayton Kershaw who continues to be a pillar in the Dodger rotation. The future Hall of Famer is 6-4 with a 3.32 ERA in 11 starts this season. However, he has been less than effective over his last three starts. The 35-year-old has given up 10 runs over 12.2 innings pitched. He has struck out 19 batters in that span, though, so the Yankees lineup will need to be aware of his swing-and-miss stuff.
Gerrit Cole will go up against 26-year-old Michael Grove (0-1, 8.44 ERA), who has only four starts under his belt this season. And then series will end with Domingo German facing off with Bobby Miller, the young right-hander has a triple-digit fastball and knee-buckling curve that has helped him through two impressive starts to begin his career.
Miller is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA so far with nine strikeouts in nine innings of work. That final game will be under the bright lights of Sunday Night Baseball, so the entire baseball world will be able to see how the 24-year-old fares against Judge and the Yankees.
Judge goes Hollywood
And speaking of Judge, the reigning AL MVP will be back at Dodger Stadium for just the second time in his career.
In three career games there, Judge is 5-for-13 (.385) with three home runs and four RBI. Of the three probable starters, Judge has only faced Kershaw in his career. Judge is 1-for-3 with a home run and a strikeout against the lefty.
The 31-year-old is coming in as the American League leader in home runs (18) and slashing .298/.410/1.089. Over his last seven games, he’s 8-for-25 (.320) with four home runs and six RBI. He’s also coming off hitting three home runs in Seattle earlier this week.
With Stanton back in the lineup protecting Judge, we’ll see if he’ll put up even bigger numbers.
When will we see Anthony Rizzo?
The case of Anthony Rizzo is getting curiouser and curiouser.
After hurting his neck in Sunday’s series finale against the Padres, Rizzo has been out of the lineup ever since. Boone said he was available off the bench on Wednesday, but didn’t come in even when the Yanks could have used his bat in their 1-0 loss to the Mariners.
The Yankee manager said after the game that Rizzo was only available in an “emergency” but it seems the team isn’t rushing their first baseman back. Rizzo said he believes he’ll be back in the lineup Friday, but we will have to wait and see. Facing the lefty Kershaw could be an excuse to give Rizzo an extra day.
Even if he is back, it’ll be interesting to see where Boone slots him in the lineup. A Torres, Judge, Rizzo, Stanton top four would be something.
Source: Yahoo Sports