The Yankees come home for the first time on Friday, welcoming in the new look Anaheim Angels (I’m not typing out the whole name) to open Yankee Stadium for the 2012 season. We all love to hate the Angels, and we’ve got a few new players to add to that list.
Staring small, there’s catcher Chris Iannetta. He’s always been a personal favorite, but with that A on his hat instead of an interlocking C & R, well, sorry, Chris. In Colorado, he always seemed to have the pieces for success, but was never able to put the whole puzzle together. He features a good skillset at the plate, with a great 13.9% walk rate and a .196 career Iso. His power dipped a bit last year (.118 Iso), but he put up a .370 OBP and a .347 wOBA (108 wRC+) in a career high 113 games. Next, there’s starting pitcher C.J. Wilson, whom the Angels signed away from the division rival Texas Rangers. For whatever reason, I’ve just never taken a liking to Wilson. And, of course, there’s the big one: Albert Pujols. The game’s best hitter for the last decade plus now calls the American League home and he’ll visit Yankee Stadium for the first time in his career (and obviously not his last). It’ll be fun to root against Pujols now, if only because it means we get to see him a lot now; it’s always a treat to watch one of the game’s best.
Today’s game features a pair of right handers going at it, as Ervin Santana and Hiroki Kuroda will look to shake off a pair of not-so-great season debuts. Saturday will see Phil Hughes taking on C.J. Wilson, who had a nice Angels debut. Hughes will be looking to improve off of his semi-successful start on Sunday against the Rays (a little more efficiency would be nice, Phil). On Sunday (I’ll be there!), Ivan Nova and Jerome Williams will square off. Williams, who pitched 44 innings in 10 games/6 starts for Anaheim last year, will make his season debut. Last year, he was mostly a sinker/cutter guy, that that helped him to generate a 50.0% ground ball rate (47.6 for his career).
Starting pitching is going to be what carries the Angels, who feature one of the best rotations in baseball, and what is probably the best rotation in the American League. The return of Kendrys Morales helps out the top of their lineup and makes it a little deeper, if not more crowded. Anaheim is a solid all around team and like always, this is going to be a tough one for the Yanks. There’s going to be pressure on the starters to match the Angels’ starters pitch-for-pitch, but I’m not sure that’ll be necessary. While it’s never good if the other team has the advantage in starting pitching, the Yankees have a stellar bullpen that can help keep the team close or maintain the lead.
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