Things to Know about the New York Yankees

The Mets return home for the weekend to play a Subway Series against the New York Yankees. Here are some things you might want to know about them:

Record: 48-31, first place AL East
Manager: Joe Girardi, lifetime 413-314 (.567) managerial record. Girardi is a little more hands off than his reputation suggests. The Yankees lead the American League in intentional walks issued, but they’re in the lower half in both pitching changes and sacrifice bunts.
Park: Home game for the Mets. Citi Field.

Quickly…
Can they hit? Yes
Can they pitch? Yup
Can they field? More or less
Who’s their best player? It just might be Alex Rodriguez. He’s quietly hitting .299/.377/.507, with 13 home runs and six defensive runs saved at third base.

Lineup:
LF – Brett Gardner – L
CF – Curtis Granderson – L
1B – Mark Teixeira – S
3B – Alex Rodriguez – R
2B – Robinson Cano – L
RF – Nick Swisher – S
C – Russell Martin – R
SS – Eduardo Nunez – R

Baseball’s second-oldest and second-most evil group of hitters (the Phillies lead in both categories) is also its best: The Yankees score 5.33 runs per game and have hit 115 home runs, both figures leading baseball. They have the second highest on-base percentage, the highest slugging percentage, and Fangraphs ranks them as the best offensive team by all sorts of standards. The shortstops, Eduardo Nunez and Captain Pulled Calf, are the only regulars with an OPS below the American League average of .717. Outside of those two, the Yankees’ worst hitter has probably been catcher Russell Martin, who has 10 home runs. Everyone is hitting all right. Some of the success is from sticking a bunch of lefthanded hitters in Yankee Stadium and watching the balls fly out, but they also lead the American League in OPS on the road. So they hit anywhere.

Pitching Matchups:

7/1: RHP Ivan Nova vs LHP Jon Niese

Nova (7-4, 4.26 ERA), has already faced the Mets this season, earning the win on May 22nd despite allowing 11 hits in 6.2 innings. A curveball pitcher who lacks command and doesn’t strike out many batters, and, despite his name, disappointingly isn’t a viking warrior who speaks only Old Norse.

7/2: RHP Bartolo Colon vs RHP Dillon Gee

Colon (5-3, 3.10 ERA) will come off the disabled list on Saturday to make the start after missing his past turns with a pulled hamstring.

About his season: Colon is striking out 8.3 batters per nine innings this year. If it holds up, this would be the second highest rate of his career. He also has the second lowest ERA of his career, and the lowest FIP. Not to be too blunt, but Colon is 38 years old, fat, hasn’t pitched in the majors in a year, and hasn’t pitched a full season in half a decade. And he just throws fastballs — a four seamer and a two seamer, along with the occasional slider and a couple of changeups a game. But 9 out of every 10 pitches Colon throws is a fastball. I don’t know how he’s doing it, but he is, and it looks legit. Baseball is weird.

7/3: RHP Freddy Garcia vs RHP R.A. Dickey

Garcia (7-6, 3.28 ERA), another pitcher the Mets saw earlier this season, is also a veteran surviving in an unusual fashion. The only pitcher in the majors to throw a lower percentage of fastballs than Garcia this season is his knuckleballing counterpart on Sunday. Garcia throws a ton of junk — sliders, splitters, curveballs, and changeups – around the outer half of the strike zone and generates a lot of contact in the air. His peripheral numbers suggest his ERA should be a bit higher, more in the 4.10 range, but that’s not terrible for someone playing a guessing game with the hitter.

The Mets miss LHP CC Sabathia and RHP A.J. Burnett this series.

Bench:
C – Francisco Cervelli – R
IF – Ramiro Pena – S
OF – Chris Dickerson – L
OF – Andruw Jones – R
PH – Jorge Posada – S

Here’s something to ponder: The Yankees have six players who played in the 2002 All Star Game (Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Freddy Garcia, and Andruw Jones). Will this Yankee team have more players in the 2011 All Star Game?

The righthanded hitting Jones might get the start on Friday against the lefty Niese, with Gardner going to the bench, Granderson moving up to leadoff and Swisher into the two hole. Analysis!

Bullpen:
RHP – Mariano Rivera
RHP – David Robertson
RHP – Luis Ayala
LHP – Boone Logan
RHP – Cory Wade
RHP – Hector Noesi
RHP – Sergio Mitre

Joba Chamberlain has joined Raphael Soriano and Pedro Felicano on the setup person disabled list, but despite the injuries, the Yankees’ pen has a 2.99 ERA, the best figure in the American League. David Robertson has 52 strikeouts in 32.1 innings — which leads AL relievers – while Luis Ayala and Boone Logan have pitched well enough as a righty/lefty tandem. Mariano Rivera has been Mariano Rivera. The backend of the bullpen is still a little questionable, even with the key reacquisition of Sergio Mitre, but bullpens are easy to fix at the deadline. Especially with a shiny new K-Rod . . .

And those were some things to know about the Yankees.

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