The Yankees and their arch-rivals to the north, the Boston Red Sox, square off tonight in the first of three in Boston’s first trip to Yankee Stadium of the season. While this probably has more to do with the inherent randomness of the schedule than anything else, this is actually the first time the Red Sox come into a series at Yankee Stadium with a losing record since 1997. Last season they were 19-19 upon their first arrival at the Stadium in May, and split the two-game series to depart with a .500 record. The last time the Red Sox left the Bronx with a losing record was in 2005, after the Yankees took two of three at home to open the season.
When these two teams last met a little over a month ago, the Sox had stumbled to a rather shocking 0-6 start, fueled by a total lack of offense and some brutal pitching performances. They’ve mostly rebounded since, going 17-14, but haven’t been able to get themselves over .500 quite yet, though that will surely happen soon enough.
Thus far Boston’s been held back by several issues. For one, they’ve only gotten great starting performances out of two-fifths of their rotation, as Jon Lester has been his usual stellar self (though his BB/9 and HR/9 are considerably elevated) and Josh Beckett has bounced back from last season’s sub-par performance in a major way, pitching arguably better than he ever has as a Red Sock. Unfortunately for Boston, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey, have, for the most part, been pretty bad.
Things haven’t been all that much better in the bullpen. Though Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon are once again proving to be one of the best set-up man/closer combinations around, Hideki Okajima is walking the world (5.40 BB/9), Bobby Jenks is getting his strikeouts (10.38 K/9) but incredibly nearly walking as many hitters (9.35 BB/9) and Dan Wheeler‘s been a home run-yielding machine (3.48 HR/9).
And while the offense — a Red Sox hallmark for the last decade — has improved over the last several weeks (.345 team wOBA last two weeks; .328 wOBA on the season, 4th-best in the AL) and they’re getting on base at the third-best clip in the league, the power hasn’t quite been where you’d expect it to be (.400 SLG, tied for 7th in the AL). Although that aspect of the team’s game has also been gaining steam of late, as the Sox actually have the second-highest SLG in the AL over the last 14 days, behind the red-hot Rays.
And after all is said and done, they are still the Red Sox, and slow start and poorer-statistics-than-you’d-expect aside, they not only get to throw their two best pitchers this weekend,but you know these two teams will be constantly trading leads and beating the crap out of each other all weekend long like they always do.
In tonight’s contest, Bartolo Colon (3.81 ERA/4.18 FIP/2.91 xFIP) faces Clay Buchholz (4.19 ERA/5.25 FIP/4.81 xFIP). Colon finally had a bad outing in his last go-round against Texas last weekend, but he’s still been pretty great and currently boasts the best K/9 and BB/9 of the rotation. Given his abnormally high HR/9, xFIP also sses him as the Yankee starter with the lowest ERA going forward (2.91 xFIP). The Yankees beat Buchholz up when they faced him last month at Fenway, and as Clay has historically struggled against the Bombers (.336/.413/.527 over 152 career PAs), this probably represents New York’s best opportunity to do some offensive damage this weekend.
The second game features one of the strangest things I’ve seen in a while — a non-playoff night game on a Saturday at Yankee Stadium. I literally cannot remember the last time the Yankees played at night at home on a Saturday. In honor of this random event, CC Sabathia (2.89 ERA/2.85 FIP/3.45 xFIP) will take on Josh Beckett (1.99 ERA/2.97 FIP/3.27 xFIP), the latter of whom utterly dominated the Yankees last month in Boston over eight shutout innings. Sabathia pitched quite a bit worse than Beckett did that evening; but given that CC hasn’t been ultra-sharp in his last two outings, I’d expect the big man to come up big at home this time out. It also seems pretty unlikely that Beckett will be that good again, though he’s really only had one “bad” start thus far this season, so it’s certainly possible that Beckett quiets the Yankee bats again.
And in the ESPN Sunday Night Marathon Heartbreaker we get the most lopsided pitching match-up of the weekend, as Freddy Garcia (2.40 ERA/4.21 FIP/3.70 xFIP) faces Jon Lester (2.96 ERA/4.07 FIP/3.31 xFIP). Though Freddy’s mostly defied expectations, it’s pretty difficult to envision him successfully navigating a deep lineup like Boston’s with his bucket of offspeed slop. Believers can point to the fact that Garcia did just that against a top AL offense in the Rangers, and perhaps the Red Sox not really having faced Garcia save for one inning of relief will end up being slightly advantageous for Freddy, but I don’t really see it. But then again, it doesn’t really matter who the Yankees throw out there, given that they get to face Lester, who, quite simply, owns the Bronx Bombers.
Here’s something new I’m trying out, a look at which hitters are hot and who’s not based on their triple-slash stats over the last seven days:
Bear in mind, even though Youk appears on this fairly arbitrary “cold” list, he and Dustin Pedroia are still going to get on base a combined 800,000 times this weekend.
Here are the two teams’ offense and pitching numbers, with AL ranks in parentheses:
Not a very pretty picture for the Yankees over the last 14 days, but you knew that already.
In any event, the Yankees’ best chance to take this series will be by winning the first two games, as facing Lester Sunday night is almost as close to a guaranteed loss as facing King Felix. The offense, as we are all painfully aware, has been pretty streaky of late, but some of these slumping bats — particularly Alex Rodriguez and Swisher — are going to have to come around soon enough, and the Yankees really should be able to take two of three this weekend.
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- Brand bc on Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- http://2804lasela.wordpress.com/ on TYA Predictions: Bold predictions for 2012
- the tao of badass pdf on What about Austin Romine?
- Joey Parkhill on Dante Bichette Jr’s Swing
- lululemon factory outlet on Contact Us
- Cary on Will R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball Succeed In A Domed Stadium?
- Brenna on Links: Prospects, Support for A-Rod, Mariano is Love and Who’s in Center?
- Louis Vuitton Outlet Sale Singapore on The Monthly Prospector: April Edition
- Authentic Louis Vuitton Outlet Store on The Monthly Prospector: June Edition
- Louis Vuitton Outlet San Diego on Banuelos to Undergo Tommy John Surgery, Yankees Prospectors to Undergo Grief Counseling
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees