Yankees @ Orioles: Gerrit Cole vs. Jordan Lyles

The (still) red hot Yanks take on the Baltimore Orioles once again tonight in Camden Yards in Game 3 of the four-game set between the teams. The 27-9 Yankees, having won eight of their last nine, look to either maintain or extend their 5.5-game lead in the AL East over Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, the struggling Os have lost six of their last seven and have fallen into last place in the division, one-half game behind Boston.

But before we get to tonight’s matchup, I have a question for you: The Yankees have been very fortunate in that they’ve stayed healthy as a team through the season’s first month and a half. As much as we’ll hope things stay that way, we know at some point the injury bug will find someone in pinstripes. Question: Besides Aaron Judge, who can the Yankees least afford to lose to an injury? Leave a comment in the comments section or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

The Yankees will send a pretty important pitcher to the mound tonight, as Gerrit Cole will be on the hill in Baltimore. After a sluggish start, Cole has been scalding hot over his last four outings throwing a combined 25.1 IP and allowing only four runs with a ridiculous 34/5 strikeout to walk tally. Over those four games – all Yankees wins – Cole has held opponents to an anemic .206/.245/.299 triple-slash line while posting an average game score of 66. The Yanks’ “Top Gun” certainly has been that over the last month.

Cole’s counterpart for the Orioles will be 12-year vet Jordan Lyles, he of the career 82 ERA+ and 4.71 FIP. Lyles, a 31-year-old righty, signed a free-agent contract in March with Baltimore, making them his seventh big league team. The Yankees can expect everything but the kitchen sink to come at them tonight as Lyles throws five pitches, featuring a four-seamer at the top of the zone* with the breaking and off-speed stuff down and toward the corners. (*Actually, the four-seamer has frequently found middle/middle in the zone.)

Tonight will be Lyles’ eighth start of the season and the results haven’t been good so far, as all batted ball profiles and expected stats are well below league average, and he’s riding an xERA of 4.87 into tonight’s game. The Yanks have already seen Lyles twice this season, once losing to him and the Os as he tossed one-run ball over 5.1 innings on April 15th, then knocking him around for six runs on three bombs in a 12-8 Yankees win on April 26th.

Lyles’ first pitch will be at 7:05 PM, ET from Charm City. You can watch the game on YES, MASN, and MLB.tv and/or listen on WFAN 101.9/660. You can always follow along with me @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and on the “My Baseball Page” on Facebook (don’t forget to hit me up with your thoughts on the question above!)

Of course, you have to play the games, but facing a bottom feeder with a very favorable pitching matchup makes this a game the Yankees need to take.

Tonight’s Yankees’ Lineup:

Hicks CF
Judge DH
Rizzo 1B
Donaldson 3B
Torres 2B
Gallo LF
Kiner-Falefa SS
Gonzalez RF
Trevino C

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