Dodgers @ Yankees June 7, 2024: Yamamoto and Co. face the best team in baseball

Well everyone, it’s time to see where this team is really at. The Dodgers (39-25) are finishing their road trip in New York City against the best team in baseball, the New York Yankees (45-19). The Yankees have won eight in a row, while the Dodgers aren’t playing well at all, and just narrowly avoided being swept by the Pirates. They won the series finale by a score of 11-7, but featured some poor pitching performances, supplemented by even worse defense. James Paxton and Walker Buehler combined for just 4.2 innings over the last two games, resulting in a taxed bullpen heading into this series. Just what you ‘d want as they head into what should be some very difficult games.

The Dodgers lucked out by not having to face Juan Soto in the series opener, as he left the game last night with left forearm inflammation. It seems to be no huge deal, but he’ll miss tonight’s game at the very least. It’s hugely beneficial, as he’s been the second best hitter and player in baseball, just behind Aaron Judge. Yoshinobu Yamamoto will be on the mound tonight, up against the team that seemed to offer him a very similar deal as to what the Dodgers did. With the bullpen situation as it is, it’d be ideal if he can get through at least six innings against the best offense in baseball. The 29 year-old righty, Cody Poteet will be making just his third start of the year in absence of Clarke Schmidt. The Dodgers can compete with New York, but they’ll need to play better than they have for the past few weeks, or they won’t have much of a chance to win this series.

4:05 P.M. New York
SS Betts SS Volpe
DH Ohtani (L) LF Verdugo (L)
1B Freeman (L) RF Judge
C Smith DH Stanton
LF T. Hernández 1B Rizzo (L)
RF Heyward (L) 2B Torres
CF Pages 3B LeMahieu
2B Lux (L) CF Grisham (L)
3B K. Hernández C Trevino
P Yamamoto (R) P Poteet (R)

The Dodgers will run out their pretty standard lineup against right-handed pitching, with Enrique Hernández starting at third base. If they wanted to maximize offense entirely, they’d start Miguel Rojas over Hernández or Gavin Lux. For New York in the absence of Soto, Trent Grisham will be starting in the outfield. He’s been bad this year, hitting just .071 with a .430 OPS, and a 34 wRC+ in 52 plate appearances. If the Yankees do have a weak spot, it’s likely their outfield depth. DJ LeMahieu has played just seven games this year with a non-displaced bone fracture in his right foot, and he’ll be making his fifth start since returning from the injured list.

Here’s how the two offenses compare as a whole.

These are very clearly the two best offenses in baseball, although they’ve been trending in opposite directions. Since May 3, the Dodgers are 19-12 while the Yankees are 25-6, with the latter featuring a 136 wRC+ as a whole, with the Dodgers in third at 113. However, the Dodgers had a good offensive stretch in the beginning of May, and since May 8, they’re 11th in wRC+ at 103, and 14th in OPS at .708.

Judge has been insane for over a month now, with a slashline of .396/.522/.962 since the beginning of May, with a 297 wRC+ and 1.484 OPS. I really don’t know how that’s possible in today’s game. With Ohtani not being able to pitch, Judge to me is very clearly the best player in baseball and it’s not particularly close. The next closest mark in OPS over that stretch is José Ramírez at 1.092. During that stretch, Judge has tallied 3.6 fWAR, while Bobby Witt Jr. is second at 2.1. The best Dodgers over that stretch have been Ohtani with a 162 wRC+ and .923 OPS tallying 1.2 fWAR, and Freddie Freeman with a 158 wRC+ and .928 OPS, also logging 1.2 fWAR.

The Yankees have two monsters at the top of the order, but can’t really match the #3 and #4 in the Dodgers lineup. However, the Yankees middle and bottom of the order is much more consistent and average compared to the black holes so frequently present for the Dodgers. Anthony Volpe (130 wRC+) and Giancarlo Stanton (126 wRC+) have been very good for them, while Alex Verdugo (111), and Jose Trevino (108) have also been above average. Gleyber Torres (91 wRC+), Anthony Rizzo (89), Oswaldo Cabrera (78), and Austin Wells (71) haven’t been great, but they’ve all been significantly better than some performances at the bottom of the Dodgers lineup. Especially with Max Muncy out, there are just too many guys providing significantly less value than those aforementioned Yankees. Lux (62 wRC+), and Kiké (60), have been very bad, while Chris Taylor (0 wRC+), has been in a league of his own, and James Outman (56) was optioned to Triple-A. These are the things that separate great teams from the best.


Here’s how Poteet and Yamamoto matchup. Yamamoto’s ranks are among 74 qualified starting pitchers, while Poteet is making his third start of the year.

Yamamoto allowed a run on seven hits and a walk while striking out seven over six innings to earn the win over the Rockies in his last outing. It was a strong performance from him following a disappointing one in Cincinnati. He’s had quality starts in five of his previous seven outings, with a 2.72 ERA over that stretch. He’s been great this season, and there’s still very clear room for improvement. The batting average on balls in play (BABIP) against him is .310, ranking 61st of those 74 qualified starters. It worsens from there, with a .351 BABIP with runners in scoring position, the 25th highest mark of 148 pitchers with 40+ plate appearances with RISP. From there, it gets even worse, with a .384 BABIP in two strike counts, the eighth highest of those same 148.

There’s been plenty of bad luck for him it appears, but this doesn’t entirely let him off the hook. He does get into advantageous two strike counts where he then proceeds to throw pitches that are way too hittable. There’s room for improvement there, and BABIP generally does work itself out.

The Yankees signed Poteet to a one-year deal this offseason, after he made just one minor league appearance last year in the Royals’ system. He spent the entirety of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery he underwent in August of 2022. The 29 year-old has 69.2 innings pitched in the majors with a 4.13 ERA, and has seen early season success with New York. He’s making his second turn through the rotation, coming off a good outing in San Francisco where he went five innings while allowing two earned runs with six strikeouts. Schmidt had been great for New York, but has been placed on the injured list with a right lat strain and Poteet seems to be the guy they expect to step in for a little while. They’re anticipating the return of Gerrit Cole over the next few weeks, so Poteet has until then to prove he’s the next guy up if one of the other four starters gets hurt.

The Yankees have the lowest ERA in baseball as a whole at 2.85, while the Dodgers are fourth at 3.32. They allow a decent amount of fly-balls, but the ball isn’t flying as far this year, so homers aren’t as big of a worry as they’d normally be. Their .252 BABIP against is the lowest in baseball, as is their 79.7% left on-base rate, showcasing a bit of luck. Their FIP is eleventh at 3.80, resulting in the largest discrepancy from their ERA in the sport, and their xFIP is 15th at 3.99. They’re clearly due for at least some regression, but stranding runners on base and not allowing homers are also just what good pitchers do.


Good news for both Clayton Kershaw and Bobby Miller.


First pitch is at 4:05 p.m. PDT on Apple TV+ and SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

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Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!