Kim Klement/Bob DeChiara/USA Today

Previewing Red Sox-Yankees, Position-by-Position

By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Red Sox and Yankees both won 100 games this year and appear close to evenly-matched heading into the ALDS.

Which team has the edge at each position on the field?

Catcher: Sandy Leon vs. Gary Sanchez

Leon nearly went 0-for-September at the plate, but the Red Sox pitching staff clearly trusts him and he is as solid as it gets behind the plate. By carrying Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart on the roster, Alex Cora has the luxury to pinch-hit twice for his light-hitting catchers.

Sanchez can hit the ball a country mile, but he barely makes contact (.186 average). He is a putrid defensive catcher and is liable to cost the Yankees a game at any time with his play behind the plate.

Jun 23, 2018; St. Petersburg, FL: New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
Jun 23, 2018; St. Petersburg, FL: New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

The catcher’s primary job is to catch the ball. The Red Sox have somebody who can do that.

Advantage: Red Sox

First base: Mitch Moreland/Steve Pearce vs. Luke Voit

“All-Star” Mitch Moreland has been anything but an All-Star since the break with his .191 batting average. The Red Sox simply need more from their starting first baseman in October.

Pearce will have to play a big role in this series with the Yankees potentially starting three left-handers in five games.

Voit has 14 home runs and approximately a million big hits in 39 games since the Yankees picked him up off the scrap heap. He seems to have that unquantifiable “it” factor. As a Red Sox fan, I hate him already.

Advantage: Yankees

Second base: Ian Kinsler/Brock Holt vs. Gleyber Torres

Kinsler hasn’t had the type of impact the Red Sox hoped for when they picked him up at the trading deadline. Holt has been hot of late and should be considered to start at second base against righties.

Torres is a supremely talented young ballplayer and has had a good rookie season, batting .271 with 24 home runs.

Advantage: Yankees

Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts vs. Didi Gregorious

Bogaerts enters October having just wrapped up his best regular season ever, setting new career-highs in home runs and runs batted in.

Gregorious hasn’t been as impactful for the Yankees as he has been in years past and is playing with a wrist injury that could diminish his performance.

Advantage: Red Sox

May 29, 2018, Boston, MA, USA: Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts watches his home run during the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. (Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)
May 29, 2018, Boston, MA, USA: Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts watches his home run during the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. (Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Third base: Rafael Devers/Eduardo Nunez vs. Miguel Andujar

Andujar has been a revelation for the Yankees, batting .297 with 27 home runs and breaking Joe DiMaggio’s Yankee record for doubles by a rookie (47). He’s a defensive liability, but the same can be said for Devers.

If Devers continues to build on his strong September, he could be a major factor for the Red Sox, but questions remain about his consistency. He’s a risky play for Alex Cora, but there are just as many questions about Nunez’s health.

The edge for New York is clear here.

Advantage: Yankees

Left field: Andrew Benintendi vs. Andrew McCutchen

McCutchen is nowhere near the player he once was, but has at least provided the Yankees with some stability in left field and at the top of their order.

Benintendi is clearly the better player and is developing a reputation as a Yankee-killer (career .301 hitter vs. New York with 6 home runs). Who wouldn’t like hitting as a left-handed hitter in Little League Yankee Stadium?

Advantage: Red Sox

Center field: Jackie Bradley Jr. vs. Aaron Hicks

Hicks has arguably been the most underappreciated Yankee this season. He has pop (27 home runs), has settled in nicely to hitting third between Judge and Stanton, and is a good defender in center.

Bradley enters this series as 4-for-25 lifetime hitter in October with 13 strikeouts. His failure to consistently make contact could prove to be a major factor in critical situations.

Advantage: Yankees

Right field: Mookie Betts vs. Aaron Judge

Judge is a spectacular ballplayer.

Mookie Betts is the best player in baseball.

Advantage: Red Sox

Jul 12, 2018; Boston, MA: Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts reacts after hitting a grand slam against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth inning at Fenway Park. (Photo Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Jul 12, 2018; Boston, MA: Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts reacts after hitting a grand slam against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth inning at Fenway Park. (Photo Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

Designated Hitter: J.D. Martinez vs. Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton had a good first season in New York, smashing 38 home runs with a .852 OPS, but there’s no doubt that Martinez has been the better hitter from start to finish this year.

Stanton is a strikeout machine and Martinez is far better equipped to put his bat on the ball in big situations. Strikeouts are amplified in October.

Advantage: Red Sox

Game 1 starter: Chris Sale vs. J.A. Happ

The unknown is a scary thing.

Chris Sale’s health is the x-factor of this series. If he returns to pre-injury form, the Red Sox will get to turn to one of the best pitchers in baseball twice in a five game series. If Sale is truly damaged goods, the Red Sox are in deep trouble.

Happ, meanwhile, has been outstanding since arriving in New York, going 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 appearances. The Yankees are 9-2 when he pitches. He’s nowhere near as good as a healthy Chris Sale, but there’s no way to predict whether Sale will be healthy enough to be effective.

Advantage: unknown.

Game 2 starter: David Price vs. Masahiro Tanaka

Price stinks in October. We all know that. Can he handle the pressure moment? History will tell us that he cannot.

But the Red Sox have hammered Tanaka this year for 16 runs over four starts and are batting .345 as a team off the righty in 2018.

Bring your gloves.

With a lot to dislike about both starting pitchers in this scenario, the edge goes to the pitcher with more talent and the pitcher who has had a better season. That's David Price.

Could this finally be the October Price delivers?

Advantage: Red Sox

Sep 19, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price (24) reacts during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Game 3 starter: Rick Porcello vs. Luis Severino

Much is made of Price’s postseason failures, but Porcello has been even worse when it counts. He is 0-4 as a starter with an ERA approaching 6. The sinkerballer has made 11 postseason appearances and his teams are an astonishing 0-11 in those games.

Porcello’s penchant for giving up the long ball is a major concern pitching at Yankee Stadium.

Severino is a trick-or-treat pitcher, but there’s no doubt his upside is far greater than Porcello’s.

Advantage: Yankees

Game 4 starter: Nathan Eovaldi vs. C.C. Sabathia/Lance Lynn

Eovaldi has pitched extremely well against the Yankees in a Red Sox uniform, tossing 16 innings without allowing an earned run. He could be a major factor for Boston in this series.

But Eovaldi has no track record in October, so there remains a bit of uncertainty about his ability to deliver when it counts. Sabathia may not be the pitcher he once was, but he is a known commodity and there is a lot to be said for that.

Advantage: Yankees if Sabathia pitches, Red Sox if Lynn pitches.

Bullpen:

Do I really need to write anything about this?

Advantage: Yankees

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub's own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.