This weekend, the Mets travel across town to play a three game set against the New York Yankees. Here are some things you might want to know about them:
Record: 23-19, 2nd place AL East
Manager: Joe Girardi. Lifetime 388-302 managerial record.
Park: Yankee Stadium II. Increases run scoring slightly and home runs not-so-slightly, particularly for lefthanded hitters.
Quickly . . .
Can they hit? Yes
Can they pitch? Kinda
Can they field? Kinda
Who’s their best player? Let’s go with Alex Rodriguez.
SS – Derek Jeter – R
CF – Curtis Granderson – L
1B – Mark Teixeira – S
3B – Alex Rodriguez – R
2B – Robinson Cano – L
RF – Nick Swisher – S
DH – Jorge Posada – S
C – Russell Martin – R
LF – Brett Gardner – L
The early noise from the Bronx has been all about the struggles of Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, which could lead you to believe the Yankees’ offense is struggling to score runs. Sadly, that’s not even close to the truth — the Yankees have the highest scoring offense in the American League. They lead the AL in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and have hit 18 more home runs than any other team. Center fielder Curtis Granderson has hit 14 home runs, and not just by poking the ball over the short right field in Yankee Stadium — 8 of his jacks have come on the road. Perhaps more surprising, a not-dead-yet Russell Martin has a .371 on-base percentage and 7 home runs while catching everyday. While no regular is batting over .300, the Yankees are a one-team clinic in the importance of on-base percentage and slugging percentage over batting average: Everyone draws walks, and whatever hits they do get tend to leave the ballpark and bring home a lot of runners. That, kids, is how you score a lot of runs.
5/20: RHP – Freddy Garcia (vs. R.A. Dickey)
5/21: RHP – A.J. Burnett (vs. Chris Capuano)
5/22: RHP – Ivan Nova (vs. Mike Pelfrey)
Miss: RHP – Bartolo Colon
Miss: LHP – CC Sabathia
A mostly righthanded pitching staff playing home games in a lefty-home-run-happy ballpark, so it doesn’t come as a shock that the Yankees’ rotation has been a little long ball prone this season. They’ve surrendered 32 home runs, and only the Rangers’ and Royals’ rotations have allowed more. The Yankee starters are also a little wild – 3.1 walks per nine innings pitched – but have a good strikeout rate and their collective ERA sits at 3.88, the middle of the American League pack. However, they do lead the league in “pitchers that are really funny to think about.”
One-time-spring-training-Met Freddy Garcia starts tonight. Garcia has a 3.06 ERA in his six starts, but as a righthanded fly ball pitcher who allows a lot of base runners (1.33 WHIP), he should make Yankees fans nervous whenever he starts at home. Game 2 goes to one-time-Mets-farmhand A.J. Burnett, who has bounced back with a 3.99 ERA this season. Also righthanded and home run prone – Carlos Beltran is going to hit approximately 15 home runs this weekend, by the way – Burnett’s early success is partially supported by a low batting average against on balls in play (.235 vs .288 career), so take his rebound for what you will. Sunday starter Ivan Nova has done a better job of keeping the ball on the ground and in the park, but has almost as many walks (20) as strikeouts (24) and the highest ERA on the staff.
C – Francisco Cervelli – R
IF – Eduardo Nunez – R
OF – Chris Dickerson – L
OF/DH – Andruw Jones – R
The Yankees regulars have been almost totally healthy, which is particularly impressive considering that they’re the oldest team in the AL. But that also means three of the four bench players here haven’t seem much playing time this season: Francisco Cervelli has made five starts this season, Eduardo Nunez six, and Chris Dickerson one. Andruw Jones sometimes DHs against lefthanded pitching, so he may start on Saturday against the lefthanded Capuano, depending on how cranky certain members of the Yankees’ lineup feel. Despite managing in the DH league, Joe Girardi has a penchant for
overmanaging using pinch hitters, so we will probably see most of these guys this weekend.
RHP – Mariano Rivera
RHP – David Robertson
RHP – Luis Ayala
RHP – Joba Chamberlain
LHP – Boone Logan
RHP – Hector Noesi
RHP – Amauri Sanit
Luis Ayala: the universal symbol for “our bullpen needs help.” The Yankees haven’t struggled much yet, being fifth in the AL in ERA, but offseason additions Pedro Feliciano and Rafael Soriano are both on the DL, leaving the path to Mariano Rivera about as safe as a wooden bridge in an Indiana Jones film. Current setup men David Robertson and Ayala hold sub-2.00 ERAs, but have allowed a combined 47 baserunners in 26.1 innings. Joba Chamberlain is pounding the ball in the strikezone again (4 walks in 21.1 innings), but may be pounding the ball a little too much in the strikezone (3 home runs allowed). The bullpen is also ridiculously righthanded — Boone Logan is the only lefty — this current group is at least better at keeping the ball on the ground and in the park than the starters.
And those were some things to know about the New York Yankees.