Because the Yankees play at Dolphin Stadium tonight, they will have no designated hitter, which takes Hideki Matsui out of the lineup. Ok, that’s manageable. However, when word came down that Alex Rodriguez would get the next two days off (presumably to play Sunday and then get another day off on Monday), the lineup didn’t seem as manageable. Seem is the key word here, though.
Despite A-Rod‘s absence, the lineup is still an imposing one. Sure, a number of the guys are slumping, but that happens in baseball. These guys could break out of it any time, and if they do tonight they’ll be just fine. A few characteristic hits tonight could bring the Yanks to a W.
They’ll try to do it against lefty Sean West. I always check out Baseball-Reference to get a gauge of the starters the Yanks face each night. In this case I was met with a surprise before I even got to West’s stats. He’s listed as 6’8″, 200 pounds. Duuude. That’s one lanky kid. Checking some images of him he neither looks that tall nor that thin. I guess we’ll get a better look tonight.
West has made five starts in his rookie season, registering 30 innings, so a round six innings per outing. He was a strikeout guy in the minors, though that was in the lower levels. Surprisingly, West has made only eight starts above A-ball, and those came this year in AA. He struck out 50 in 42.2 innings there, though has notched just 15 in his 30 MLB innings. His problem, both in the minors and at the major league level this year, is that he walks way too many guys. This problem became more pronounced after he missed the 2007 season with a torn labrum.
Of his five starts, two have been brilliant. These include a seven-inning, one-run performance against the Mets on May 29, and an eight-inning, no-run outing (with six strikeouts) against the Giants on June 8. In his last outing the Blue Jays pasted him for four runs in 5.2 innings. He threw just 51 of his 98 pitches for strikes. The Yanks could sure use some of that tonight. We’ve seen enough of their faltering in the past few games against pitchers they’ve yet to see.
Andy Pettitte has another go at it after a few suspect outings. Thankfully for him he’ll be facing a Marlins lineup which features only two guys with an OPS over .800 — Hanley Ramirez and Ronny Paulino, the latter of which is on quite the tear to open the season. His .480 SLG is roughly .100 better than any of his full seasons.
For those who don’t like Joe Girardi, thank the baseball gods that you’re not a Marlins fan. Fredi Gonzalez is batting Wes Helms second. Wes Helms has a .603 OPS. Meanwhile, Cody Ross, who is tearing the cover off the ball with 10 homers and 18 doubles, both second on the team to Hanley Ramirez, is hitting eighth. Jeremy Hermida, who is second on the team in OBP (again, to Hanley), is hitting seventh. Paulino, the guy on a tear, is hitting sixth.