Tonight the Yankees face ::gulp:: a pitcher they’ve yet to see. Thankfully, they’ve dispelled the myth that they can hit these types. Yeah, it happens from time to time, but for the most part the Yanks have held their own against neophytes, most recently against Blue Jays rookie Brett Cecil. Tonight it’s Minnesota’s Anthony Swarzak — whose name isn’t quite as cool as the Jays’ rookie Mark Rzepczynski.
Glen Perkins was the scheduled starter for Minnesota tonight, but he is out with an illness and will not start in this series. That brings about mixed feelings. On one hand, the Yanks bombed Perkins for six runs in less than an inning on May 18. It appears, however, that he was hurt. The Twins placed him on the DL the next day and he didn’t return for about a month. Since coming back, though, he’s been pretty damn good, allowing just eight runs over 27 innings, walking just two. He’s also lasted seven innings in three of those four starts, going six in the other (his first back).
Taking his place is, as mentioned, Swarzak. He’s pitched well in his 27.2 innings this year, allowing just 12 runs, striking out 18 and walking 10. Baseball America claimed that the righty “has the best combination of stuff, youth, and experience” in the Twins’ system, but that might be a bit of overhype. They say he sits 91-93, but in his last major league start, back on June 13, wherein he pitched seven scoreless innings against the White Sox, his fastball averaged under 90 mph, with a max of 92.2. Obviously, he didn’t get up there often. His changeup averages about 83 mph, so there’s not a ton of differential there. His real off-speed offering is the curveball, which sits in the mid-70s.
A.J. Burnett faired well against the Twins last time out, pitching 6.2 innings and allowing just two runs. Of course, he walked six in that span, which is nothing but frustrating to watch. That’s nothing new for Burnett: he leads the league in walks this year.
Finally, as if everyone didn’t know already, Francisco Cervelli has been optioned for Jose Molina. It was a fun ride, Frankie. He’s certainly one of the most-loved sub-.300 OBP Yankees from recent memory. He’ll be back in September at the latest, and since Jose Molina’s contract expires after this year, he could be back to stay at that point.
And on the mound, number thirty-four, A.J. Burnett.