For the third straight series the Yankees face a rubber match in the final game. They won in emphatic fashion against the Mets, but lost in a shutout to the Nats. Since I always like to talk about taking series, how about the Yanks go out and not only win this three-game series, but win this set of two out of three series. It would be a nice present heading into one of those always-boring off-days.
Once again, the Yankees will face someone they’ve never seen before in 22-year-old Chris Volstad. The 2005 first rounder is in his second year in the majors, and has hit some speed bumps. After pitching to a 2.88 ERA over 84.1 innings last year (14 starts and one relief appearance), that ERA has climbed nearly two full points to 4.75. Despite the rising ERA, Volstad has struck out more, walked fewer, and has a lower WHIP than last season. Unfortunately, he allowed home runs last year at an unsustainable rate (just three in those 84.1 IP), and has allowed 14 in basically the same span this year. That’ll make the difference.
Volstad is a fastball-curveball-changeup guy, and it sounds like his change is his best pitch. He sets it up with a fastball that tops out at 92, so despite his large frame (6’7″) he doesn’t feature overpowering stuff. Much in the same way as teammate Sean West, Volstad is a big dude without a lot of extra mass on his bones — he’s listed as 190 pounds.
The year started out well for Volstad, as he allowed just one run in each of his first two starts, and then, after allowing three runs in his next start, held the Phillies and Cubs to two earned runs each over seven innings in each start. That put his ERA at 2.76 for April. That climbed about a full run in May, as he allowed fewer than three earned runs just once (3 R, 2 ER against Colorado). His ERA jumped more than a run above that in June, as he allowed two runs over six innings to the Giants, and then six runs over 5.2 to the Cardinals and eight runs over 3.2 to the Red Sox.
CC Sabathia toes the rubber for the Yanks this afternoon. He’s been the most solid pitcher in the rotation all season, and especially since the calendar flipped from April to May. He’s run into a bit of trouble in June, as one bad inning in each start allowed the opposing team to either get back into the game or take it. On June 6 against the Rays he had the three-run shot to Willy Aybar. This past Tuesday he had the three-run shot to Anderson Hernandez. And, of course, on June 11 against the Sox he had the eighth inning. So in all three games he was basically one (or in the Sox case two) at bat away from having a truly dominant outing. Putting it together would be a big deal for the Yanks today.
As a quick note, A.J. Burnett‘s suspension has been reduced to five games, and he’ll start serving that today. The off-day will allow the Yanks to juggle the rotation to accommodate the MLB’s asinine suspension policy. Sounds like it will be Wang, Joba, and Pettitte against the Braves, followed by CC, Burnett, and Wang against the Mets.
Also, Johnny Damon is out with a sore calf, which could just as easily be baseball lingo for “could use two straight days off.”