Archive for Series Preview
Am I the only Yankees fan with an irrational dislike of the Mariners? I guess it dates back to the 1995 ALDS, but it’s really ramped up in recent years with the Cliff Lee non-trade and Michael Pineda‘s shoulder injury. On the bright side, Seattle has won just seven of 18 games at the new Yankee Stadium.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Mariners have actually been playing pretty well of late. They just took two of three from the free-falling Athletics and have won three of their last four games. They’ve also won six of their last nine and nine of their last 13 to bring their season record to 18-20 with a -20 run differential.
To no one’s surprise, the Mariners are a below-average offensive club. They’ve scored just 3.6 runs per game this year, and their team 94 wRC+ is a bottom ten mark in the game. Seattle’s only injured position player is CF Franklin Gutierrez (127 wRC+), who visits the DL on an annual basis these days. He’s out with a hamstring problem.
Manager Eric Wedge’s two best offensive players are CF Michael Saunders (144 wRC+) and 3B Kyle Seager (129 wRC+), and they usually bat first and second. Wedge doesn’t mess around. Offseason additions DH Kendrys Morales (118 wRC+) and OF Mike Morse (110 wRC+) anchor the middle of the lineup, but OF Jason Bay (131 wRC+) will get a prime batting order spot against southpaws.
Seattle’s trio of disappointing young positions players includes former Yankee C Jesus Montero (64 wRC+), who splits time behind the plate with C Kelly Shoppach (139 wRC+ in limited time). 1B Justin Smoak (99 wRC+) has been less awful than usual, but 2B Dustin Ackley (55 wRC+) has made up for it. SS Robert Andino (22 wRC+) is playing everyday over defensive whiz SS Brendan Ryan (-5 wRC+). OF Endy Chavez (71 wRC+) and former Yankee OF Raul Ibanez (80 wRC+) round out the everyday roster.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Tuesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Felix Hernandez
Did you know the Yankees haven’t played a series against the Mariners without seeing King Felix since 2009? That’s a span of ten series, and they’ve face him in every single one. That’s kinda annoying. The 27-year-old Hernandez has been as good as ever this year, pitching to a 1.53 ERA and 2.16 FIP through eight starts. His strikeout (8.59 K/9 and 25.3 K%), walk (1.23 BB/9 and 3.6 BB%), and ground ball (50.6%) rates are all outstanding. It seems silly to say, but as Jeff Sullivan wrote recently, Felix has made the jump from thrower to pitcher. His three fastballs — four-seamer, cutter, sinker — all sit in the low-90s, and his all-world array of offspeed pitches include an upper-80s changeup, a mid-80s slider, and a low-80s curveball. The Yankees have seen Hernandez plenty over the years, but as you know, he usually dominates them.
Wednesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
Believe it or not, the Mariners actually have two aces this year. Iwakuma, 32, has pitched almost as well as Felix this year (1.74 ERA and 2.80 FIP), his second in MLB after spending last season as a swingman. His peripheral stats are excellent as well — 8.88 K/9 (26.7 K%), 1.39 BB/9 (4.2 BB%), and 41.5% grounders — so it’s not all smoke and mirrors. That said, his .198 BABIP won’t last forever. Iwakuma’s four-seamer and sinker sit in the upper-80s, and his top offspeed offering is a mid-80s splitter that falls off the table. He’ll also throw low-80s sliders and slow-70s curveballs. The Yankees saw Iwakuma twice last year, both times as a starter. He held them to one run in five innings the first time, then got tagged for four runs in five innings the second time.
Thursday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Aaron Harang
Harang, 35, is no longer the strikeout heavy workhorse he was during his prime with the Reds. He’s bounced from the Dodgers to the Rockies to the Mariners these last six weeks or so, but he’s only thrown a pitch for Seattle in 2013. Harang has been awful so far, putting up a 7.30 ERA (5.14 FIP) in five starts despite strong strikeout (8.39 K/9 and 20.7 K%) and walk (1.82 BB/9 and 4.5 BB%) numbers. The problem is his 35.8% ground ball rate and 2.19 HR/9 (15.8% HR/FB). These days Harang will sit in the upper-80s with his two- and four-seamer, and he throws the former roughly twice as often as the latter. A low-80s slider is his top secondary pitch, but he’ll also throw the occasional low-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball. Believe it or not, Harang has never faced the Yankees. I get that he was a career NL guy prior to being traded to the Mariners, but he’s been in the show for 12 years now. You’d think he would have run into them during interleague play at some point.
The Mariners were off on Monday for travel, so their bullpen is as fresh as can be this time of year. Closer RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (2.56 FIP) is one of the best least talked about relievers in the game, and setup men LHP Oliver Perez (3.76 FIP), RHP Carter Capps (4.72 FIP), and LHP Charlie Furbush (4.05 FIP) all rack up a ton of strikeouts. RHP Yoervis Medina (1.44 FIP in limited time) and LHP Lucas Luetge (2.64 FIP in limited time) handle the middle innings while former Yankee RHP Hector Noesi (2.67 FIP) is saddled with long relief duty.
Despite yesterday’s doubleheader, the Yankees are in pretty good shape bullpen-wise. Both David Robertson and Mariano Rivera had the day off, but they’ve also pitched in four of the last six days. Giving them the proverbial one extra day would be neat. If the Yankees send down one of their extra arms to clear a roster spot for Curtis Granderson, I’m guessing they would keep the fresh and available Brett Marshall and demote Vidal Nuno. I guess we’ll find out. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage. For the latest and greatest on the Mariners, I recommend Lookout Landing and U.S.S. Mariner.
Kauffman Stadium hasn’t been very kind to the Yankees over the last 12 months or so. Mariano Rivera suffered his season-ending knee injury in Kansas City last May, then Robinson Cano was booed basically off the field during the Homerun Derby in July. New York is 6-5 at Kauffman Stadium over the last three years.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Royals made some significant moves this past winter, and so far they are paying some very real dividends. Kansas City is 18-13 with a +18 run differential, landing them right behind the Tigers in the AL Central standings. They won last night to halt a three-game losing streak, and they’re just 5-5 in their last ten games.
At 4.3 runs per game with a team 93 wRC+, the Royals are above-average in terms of runs per game but below average in terms of results at the plate. That means they’ve either been good or lucky (or both) with their timing and sequencing. Manager Ned Yost’s team is perfectly healthy, at least on the position player side.
LF Alex Gordon (134 wRC+) has batted leadoff every game this year except for one, yesterday’s win over the Orioles. He batted third in that game, and I don’t know if that will be a regular thing going forward. Either way, he is their best hitter and all-around player. DH Billy Butler (109 wRC+) provides plenty of support, as has the surprisingly productive CF Lorenzo Cain (125 wRC+). 1B Eric Hosmer (95 wRC+) and 3B Mike Moustakas (81 wRC+) continue to be various levels of disappointing.
C Salvador Perez (81 wRC+) is off to a slow start, ditto SS Alcides Escobar (80 wRC+) and RF Jeff Francoeur (61 wRC+). 2B Chris Getz (42 wRC+) gets most of the playing time at second, though IF Miguel Tejada (128 wRC+ in limited time) and IF Elliott Johnson (91 wRC+) will see time at the position as well. The backup catcher is C George Kottaras (153 wRC+ in limited time), the backup outfielder OF Jarrod Dyson (84 wRC+). The Royals have hit the second fewest homers (22) but stolen the sixth most bases (24) in baseball this year, so they’re a speed team.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Friday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Wade Davis
The Yankees are going to face three pitchers they are pretty familiar with this series. Davis, 27, spent the last four years with the division rival Rays, but he was sent to Kansas City in this winter’s blockbuster trade. They moved him back to the rotation, and he’s pitching almost exactly like he did as a starter from 2010-2011 (4.75 ERA and 4.43 FIP) rather than as a reliever last year. The peripheral stats — 7.42 K/9 (17.9 K%), 3.86 BB/9 (9.3 BB%), and 39.8% grounders — are solid but not spectacular. Davis is a different animal as a starter, sitting in the upper-80s/low-90s with his three fastballs (two-seamer, four-seamer, cutter) rather than the mid-90s he averaged out of the bullpen. A mid-80s changeup and low-80s curveballs are his top offspeed offerings. The Yankees have seen Davis a few times over the years, and for the most part they’ve handled him well when he’s been in the rotation.
Saturday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Jamie Shields
After spending parts of seven years in Tampa Bay, the 31-year-old Shields took his workhorse act to the Royals in an offseason trade. He’s pitched very well so far (2.52 ERA and 2.62 FIP), with excellent strikeout (8.64 K/9 and 24.9 K%), walk (2.16 BB/9 and 6.2 BB%), and ground ball (47.3%) numbers. Shields remains a master at pitching backwards, using a low-80s curveball and upper-70s slider to set up three upper-80s/low-90s fastballs: two-seamer, four-seamer, and cutter. His put away pitch is that all-world changeup, which sits in the mid-80s and both drops off the table and fades away from lefties. The Yankees and Shields have plenty of history, so there are no surprises here. It’ll be just like old times.
Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Ervin Santana
Santana, 30, went from leading the league in homers in 2012 to pitching like an ace in 2013. He owns a 2.36 ERA (3.06 FIP) with career-best walk (1.29 BB/9 and 3.6 BB%) and ground ball (44.8%) rates. His strikeout (7.50 K/9 and 20.8 K%) rate is his best in about five years as well. Santana hasn’t changed his pitch selection or added velocity, so he still sits in the low-90s with his four-seamer while relying on a low-80s slider much more than a mid-80s changeup. He has made some minor adjustments to his delivery though, which has supposedly boosted his command. We’ll get a look at it this weekend. Santana and the Yankees certainly know each other from those Yankees-Angels battles, so again, no surprise here.
The bullpen was expected to be the strength of Yost’s club, and sure enough they rank fifth in the game with a 3.33 reliever ERA (3.68 FIP). Closer RHP Greg Holland (1.57 FIP) has been awesome despite one or two rather spectacular meltdowns. Setup man RHP Kelvin Herrera (6.31 FIP) is killing my fantasy team by giving up homers left and right, so RHP Luke Hochevar (2.66 FIP) has been seeing some eight inning time.
Kansas City has two southpaws in specialist LHP Tim Collins (2.08 FIP) and multi-inning guy LHP Bruce Chen (1.61 FIP). Given how much the Yankees struggle against southpaws, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chen comes in and dominates for three or four innings at some point this series. RHP Aaron Crow (3.84 FIP) and RHP J.C. Gutierrez (4.48 FIP) fill the final two bullpen spots. The common theme here is power — outside of Chen, all of these guys live in the mid-to-high-90s with their fastballs. They all should be fresh for today, they haven’t work much recently.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are in a bit of a bullpen bind. Joe Girardi acknowledged yesterday that Mariano Rivera and David Robertson and both unlikely to be available today after throwing back-to-back days, and I assume the same is true for Preston Claiborne. That leaves Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan for the late innings tonight. Yikes. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage details. As for a Royals blog worth your time, check out Royals Review.
For the first time this year, the Yankees are heading to a National League park for interleague play. They’re in Colorado for a three-game set with the Rockies, only their third trip to Coors Field since the place opened. The Yankees are just 2-4 at Coors all-time, and that includes getting swept in three games back in 2007. On the other hand, they scored 41 runs in three games back in 2002, the all-time for a three-game series in that building.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Rockies were picked by many (including me) to finish in last place in the NL West, but they’re currently right behind the Giants for the division lead at 18-13 with a +27 run differential. They did just lose two of three to the Rays this weekend though, and after starting the year with 13 wins in 17 games, they’ve since lost nine of their last 14 games.
Home/road splits might be one of the most over-analyzed things in baseball, but Coors Field is a different animal. It’s an extreme hitter’s park not only because there are more homers due to the way the ball carries in the thin mile-high air, but also because breaking balls don’t break as much as they do at sea level. Outfielders tend to play deeper as well, which results in more bloop hits. Since the place opened in 1995, games at Coors Field have a .3333 BABIP compared to a .3001 BABIP everywhere else. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of plate appearances here.
Anyway, rather than the usual block text preview, I’m going to present the Rockies’ active position players in a table to make life easier. All of the stats are for this year only.
|Overall wRC+||Home wRC+||Road wRC+|
|CF Dexter Fowler||158||125||186|
|2B Josh Rutledge||72||77||70|
|LF Carlos Gonzalez||157||127||186|
|SS Troy Tulowitzki||182||197||172|
|RF Michael Cuddyer||162||226||115|
|1B Todd Helton||88||0||179|
|C Wilin Rosario||128||28||231|
|3B Nolan Arenado||171||270||102|
|OF Eric Young Jr.||104||99||106|
|UTIL Jordan Pacheco||90||67||112|
|C Yorvit Torrealba||110||143||84|
|IF Jonathan Herrera||50||123||-73|
|IF Reid Brignac||57||57||58|
Surprisingly, the Rockies are actually hitting better on the road (120 wRC+) than they are at home (105 wRC+) so far this year. I’m guessing that has a lot to do with some brutally cold April weather in Denver, which included a few snow-postponed games. I don’t expect that reverse split to last long, the Rox are going to mash at home once it heats up. Hopefully that process doesn’t start this week.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Just in case you’re wondering, no, Colorado no longer employs that four-man rotation/tandem starter thing they tried for most of last season. It’s a regular starter/bullpen setup.
Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Jorge De La Rosa
It’s safe to say the Rockies haven’t gotten their money’s worth out of the 32-year-old De La Rosa, who signed a two-year, $21.5M deal with Colorado prior to 2011 before exercising his $11M player option for 2013. He made just 13 starts from 2011-12 due to Tommy John surgery and subsequent setbacks, and so far this year he owns a 4.18 ERA (4.64 FIP) in six starts. His strikeout rate (5.29 K/9 and 14.3 K%) is way down from his pre-surgery levels, and neither his walk (3.62 BB/9 and 9.8 BB%) nor ground ball (43.9%) rates have improved to compensate. De La Rosa’s two- and four-seamer now sit in the low-90s, down a few ticks from before surgery. A low-to-mid-80s splitter is his top secondary offering, but he’ll also throw low-80s sliders and low-70s curveballs. The Yankees haven’t faced De La Rosa since 2007, and he’s had a massive platoon split in recent years. It’s a good game to sit some lefties and load the lineup with righty hitters … if the Yankees had anyone worthwhile righty bats.
Wednesday: RHP Juan Nicasio vs. RHP David Phelps
Nicasio, 26, is best remembered for having his neck broken by a line drive back in August 2011. He had surgery and missed the rest of the season, but recovered well enough to make the team’s Opening Day rotation last year. That’s pretty remarkable. Nicasio owns a 4.91 ERA (5.83 FIP) in six starts this year, and outside of his ground ball rate (47.9%), his peripherals stink. He doesn’t get a ton of strike threes (6.14 K/9 and 15.0 K%) and issues a lot of ball fours (4.60 BB/9 and 11.3 BB%). Nicasio is very fastball heavy, throwing his 91-95 mph four-seamer more than 70% of the time. A low-80s slider is his offspeed pitch of choice, and he’ll seldom use his mid-80s changeup. The Yankees saw Nicasio when the Rockies came to the Bronx in 2011, and they hung four runs on him in five innings. It was his sixth career start and a little more than one month before the neck injury.
Thursday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Jeff Francis
The 32-year-old Francis falls into the Mark Buehrle category of soft-tossers, meaning the laws of FIP/DiPS Theory don’t really apply. Unlike Buehrle though, Francis’ career 4.91 ERA is more than half-a-run higher than his career 4.40 FIP. Buehrle has outperformed his FIP, Francis has underperformed it. The left-hander owns a 7.27 ERA (5.27 FIP) in six starts this year even though his strikeout (7.27 K/9 and 16.7 K%) and ground ball (52.8%) numbers are his best as a full-time big leaguer. His walk rate (3.81 BB/9 and 8.7 BB%) is a career-high and more than double what he’s done in recent years. Francis sits in the mid-80s with his four-seamer and sinker, two pitches he uses to setup his upper-70s changeup and upper-60s curveball. Francis has faced the Yankees once in his ten-year career, holding them to one run in seven innings back in 2007.
Both teams were off on Monday, so both bullpens are as fresh as can be. The Yankees might get David Robertson back from his hamstring problem tonight, though that depends on how his pre-game workout goes. Check out our Bullpen Workload page to see the team’s reliever usage info.
Rookie Rockies manager Walt Weiss has a pretty awesome bullpen at his disposal, starting with veteran closer RHP Rafael Betancourt (3.16 FIP). RHP Matt Belisle (2.94 ERA) and LHP Rex Brothers (2.09 FIP) do most of the setup work, but former Yankee farmhand RHP Wilton Lopez (2.32 FIP) will draw some high leverage work as well. Brooklyn-raised RHP Adam Ottavino (3.51 FIP) shares middle relief worth with LHP Josh Outman (2.30 FIP). RHP Edgmer Escalona (3.87 FIP) does most of the long relieving. For the latest and greatest on the Rockies, check out Purple Row.
The Athletics haven’t had much success at the latest incarnation of Yankee Stadium. Since the building opened in 2009, the reigning AL West champs have won just five of 19 games in the Bronx, winning just one of six total series. Oakland will be The House The Boss Built for three games this weekend.
What Have They Done Lately?
Although they lost their last game, the A’s just took two of three from the division rival Angels. They had lost three straight series before that, all against AL East opponents. Oakland won 12 of their first 16 games, but they’ve since dropped nine of their last 13 games. All the winning stopped as soon as they had to play teams other than the Mariners and Astros. Funny how that works. The Athletics are 16-13 with a +20 run differential, good for second place in the AL West.
Manager Doug Melvin’s squad is the highest scoring team in baseball, with a 5.59 runs per game average and 112 wRC+. Those are the best and third best marks in baseball, respectively. CF Coco Crisp (156 wRC+) is on the DL with a hamstring problem while CF Chris Young (81 wRC+) is day-to-day with a quad problem. He only plays against lefties anyway. SS Hiroki Nakajima and 2B Scott Sizemore are on the DL and have not played at all this year. You won’t see them this weekend.
With Crisp and Young out, OF Yoenis Cespedes (118 wRC+) will man center field. He just came off the DL himself after dealing some hand issues. SS Jed Lowrie (158 wRC+) and 1B Brandon Moss (142 wRC+) give Cespedes some support in the middle of the lineup while 3B Josh Donaldson (146 wRC+) and LF/DH Seth Smith (141 wRC+) help from further down in the order. The A’s also have an insanely productive catching platoon featuring lefty John Jaso (100 wRC+) and righty Derek Norris (121 wRC+). So jealous.
RF Josh Reddick (45 wRC+) usually sits against lefties, but he’s been forced into the lineup everyday due to the Crisp and Young injuries. Right-handed hitting 1B Nate Freiman (70 wRC+) will get into the lineup against southpaws. IF Eric Sogard (73 wRC+) and UTIL Adam Rosales (120 wRC+ in limited time) join third C Luke Montz (98 wRC+) on the bench. Montz has just four plate appearances this year. The A’s lead the big leagues in stolen bases (25), though most of that is Crisp and Young. They’re middle of the pack with 28 homers. Oaktown can score some runs.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Friday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP A.J. Griffin
Griffin, 25, had a nice half-season (3.06 ERA and 3.85 FIP) last year, but things haven’t gone as well early in his sophomore campaign (4.65 ERA and 4.70 FIP). He doesn’t miss many bats (6.68 K/9 and 17.4 K%) and is one of the most extreme fly ball pitchers in baseball (28.1% grounders), but he does limit walks (2.90 ERA and 7.6 BB%). That’s always a plus. Griffin throws four pitches but is basically a three-pitch pitcher. His upper-80s four-seam fastball sets up a low-80s changeup and a hilarious upper-60s curveball. Here, look at that thing. Griffin throws a mid-80s slider but very rarely, like once or twice a game. The Yankees saw him twice last year, pounding him once (four runs in 4.1 innings) and getting shut down the other time (two runs in six innings).
Saturday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Bartolo Colon
It’s been a pretty crazy three years for the 39-year-old Colon, who went from off the radar to Yankees reclamation project to Athletics scrap heap pickup to busted for performance-enhancing drugs. He’s pitched to a 3.38 ERA (2.68 FIP) in 32 innings across five starts since returning from his 50-game suspension a few weeks ago. Colon is a strike-throwing machine (0.28 BB/9 and 0.8 BB%), but his strikeout (5.63 K/9 and 16.1 K%) and ground ball (40.8%) rates have slipped a bit from when he was in New York. Low-90s four-seamers and upper-80s two-seamers are still his weapon of choice, as he’ll throw his low-80s sliders and changeups less than 10% of the time combined. Surely you remember him pumping fastball after fastball two years ago. The Yankees saw Colon twice last year and handled him well both times, scoring ten runs in 12.2 total innings.
Sunday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Dan Straily
This is Brett Anderson’s spot, but the Athletics had to put the left-hander on the DL with an ankle problem last week. The 24-year-old Straily is taking his place, having made two previous starts this year. Between this year and last, he owns a career 4.44 ERA (5.66 FIP) with 8.70 K/9 (22.3 K%), 3.02 BB/9 (7.7 BB%), and a 30.9% ground ball rate in 50.2 innings across nine starts. Straily is primarily a two-pitch guy, using upper-80s/low-90s fastball and low-80s sliders just about 90% of the time. Low-80s changeups are his third offering. The Yankees did not face Straily at all last year, so they’re going in blind.
Both teams were off on Thursday, so their bullpens are as fresh as can be this time of the year. The Yankees will replace the injured Joba Chamberlain (oblique) with right-hander Preston Claiborne prior to tonight’s game, plus David Robertson is day-to-day with a hamstring issue as well. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage details.
As for the Athletics, Melvin had a dynamite late-game trio at his disposal with LHP Scott Doolittle (4.00 FIP) and RHP Ryan Cook (2.24 FIP) setting up closer RHP Grant Balfour (4.78 FIP). RHP Evan Scribner (4.98 FIP) is the de factor long man while RHP Chris Resop (4.68 FIP) is the general middle innings guy. RHP Pat Neshek (4.73 FIP) and LHP Jerry Blevins (2.05 FIP) are the matchup specialists. It’s a solid and deep bullpen, no doubt. My A’s blogs of choice are Athletics Nation and Beane Ball.
The Yankees are fresh off a four-game sweep of the division rival Blue Jays, and I’m not sure the schedule could have worked out any better to help continue the winning streak as the Astros are coming to the Bronx for three games. Then again, this has classic “trap series” potential.
What Have They Done Lately?
Lose, unsurprisingly. The Astros were just swept by the Red Sox in a four-game series, getting outscored 28-10. They did win two straight against the Mariners before that though. Overall, Houston is 7-18 with a -50 run differential, both the worst marks in the AL.
The Astros average 3.9 runs per game with a team 97 wRC+, both a touch below the league average. They are missing two important right-handed platoon bats in OF J.D. Martinez (92 wRC+) and former Yankees property OF Justin Maxwell (87 wRC+) due to a knee sprain and a broken hand, respectively.
Manager Bo Porter’s best full-time hitter is also his leadoff hitter, 2B Jose Altuve (121 wRC+). LF/DH Chris Carter (101 wRC+) and 1B Carlos Pena (86 wRC+) both play everyday as well, and both guys can hit the ball out of any park despite their massive strikeout issues. C Jason Castro (94 wRC+) and slick-fielding 3B Matt Dominguez (81 wRC+) are the team’s only other everyday guys. Marwin Gonzalez (138 wRC+) and Ronny Cedeno (116 wRC+) split time at shortstop.
The rest of the Houston lineup is filled by platoon players, including right-handed hitters OF Brandon Barnes (178 wRC+ in limited time) and former Yankee 1B/3B Brandon Laird (129 wRC+ in limited time). Lefty bats OF Rick Ankiel (112 wRC+ with a 58 K% (!)) and OF Fernando Martinez (64 wRC+) start against righties. OF Robbie Grossman (-20 wRC+ in limited time) has taken over in center following Maxwell’s injury while C Carlos Corporan (90 wRC+) backs up Castro. It’s not a great lineup obviously, but they aren’t total pushovers.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Monday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Lucas Harrell
The Astros struck waiver wire gold with the 27-year-old Harrell last year, as he pitched to a 3.76 ERA (3.75 FIP) in 193.2 innings after being selected from the White Sox. He owns a 4.08 ERA (5.54 FIP) through five starts this year even though his strikeout (6.28 K/9 and 16.3 K%) and ground ball (54.7%) rates are basically identical to last season. His walk (4.71 BB/9 and 12.2 BB%) and homer (1.57 HR/9 and 22.7% HR/FB) numbers have jumped a ton though. Harrell is a big time two-seam fastball guy, throwing the low-90s pitch roughly 60% of the time. He’ll also throw a low-90s four-seamer and upper-80s cutter on occasion, and his array of offspeed pitches includes a mid-80s slider, a low-80s curveball, and a low-80s changeup. He doesn’t throw any of those pitches more than eight or so percent of the time, however. That two-seamer is his bread-and-butter. Harrell has never pitched against the Yankees in his career and only three players (Brennan Boesch, Jayson Nix, and Travis Hafner) on the roster have ever faced him before.
Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Phil Humber
Baseball has not been kind to Humber since his perfect game last April. The 30-year-old has pitched to a 7.54 ERA (~5.99 FIP) in 111 innings since making history, including a 7.99 ERA (4.69 FIP) in five total starts this year. He hasn’t struck anyone out (4.94 K/9 and 11.5 K%), but he has done an okay job of limiting walks ( 3.04 BB/9 and 7.1 BB%) and getting grounders (45.5%). Either way, he’s been pretty close to the worst starting pitcher in baseball so far this year. Humber is very offspeed heavy, throwing his upper-80s two- and four-seamers a combined 41.2% of the time. Upper-70s curveballs and mid-80s sliders are his top secondary pitchers, and he’ll also throw a mid-80s changeup. The Yankees have faced Humber twice before, both times when he was having success with the White Sox back in 2011.
Wednesday: RHP David Phelps vs. LHP Erik Bedard
Bedard, 34, has managed to stay healthy in the early going after years and years of injury trouble. The results haven’t been very good (7.98 ERA and 6.47 FIP) so far, which isn’t terribly surprising given his walk (4.91 BB/9 and 11.4 BB%), ground ball (33.3%), and homer (3.07 HR/9 (!) and 23.8% HR/FB) rates. He is striking out plenty of batters though (11.66 K/9 and 27.1 K%), which is something he never really stopped doing even while battling all the physical problems. Bedard’s money-maker remains a knockout mid-70s curveball he can throw for a called strike or bury in the dirt for a swing-and-miss. He’ll also throw an upper-70s changeup and set things up with three fastballs: upper-80s/low-90s two-seamer, four-seamer, and cutter. The two-seamer is the most used by far. The Yankees saw Bedard a bunch during his Orioles days, but he hasn’t started a game against them since May 2008.
Despite the beatdown in Boston, Porter’s bullpen is in decent shape because Bud Norris threw six innings yesterday before RHP Jose Cisnero (2.08 FIP) followed with two innings to wrap things up. The team carries three long man types out of necessity, with RHP Paul Clemens (6.48 FIP) and LHP Travis Blackley (7.16 FIP) doing the honors alongside Cisnero.
When they do actually have a lead, the Astros use former Yankee Jose Veras (1.86 FIP) to slam the door in the ninth inning. The setup crew is some combination of matchup guys RHP Rhiner Cruz (6.48 FIP), LHP Wesley Wright (3.08 FIP), and RHP Hector Ambriz (3.45 FIP). The Yankees have relied on their late-game arms pretty heavily of late, which could limit their availability in this series. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the exact details. There aren’t a ton of Astros blogs out there, but Crawfish Boxes is the best of the bunch.
The Blue Jays made all their big offseason moves with an eye on winning the AL East title, and if they’re going to win the division, these are the games they need to win. The Yankees are far from full strength due to injuries and these clubs are scheduled to play ten times through mid-May, which is right about when New York is expected to start getting some of their walking wounded back. If the Jays want to go from pretenders to contenders, these games are borderline must-wins.
What Have They Done Lately?
Well, Toronto is 1-2 so far in those borderline must-win games. The Yankees took two of three up north last weekend, then the Blue Jays lost another two of three to the Orioles in Baltimore this week. The Jays are 9-13 with a -29 run differential overall, and despite yesterday’s win they have lost six or their last nine games.
Manager John Gibbons’ club is averaging 3.9 runs per game so far, which is a bit below-average. They are closer towards the bottom of the league with a team 89 wRC+ and near the top with 26 homers. The Blue Jays lost a legitimate game-changer in SS Jose Reyes two weeks ago, when he suffered a severe ankle sprain sliding into second base. He had a team-leading 182 wRC+ and five steals in ten games before the injury.
The club’s new-look lineup is anchored by two big right-handed bats, RF Jose Bautista (112 wRC+) and 1B Edwin Encarnacion (96 wRC+). They aren’t off to torrid starts, but both guys can hit the ball out of any part of any park in a moment’s notice. Former Yankee LF Melky Cabrera (74 wRC+) is in the middle of the lineup mix as well, ditto the AL homerun leader C J.P. Arencibia (151 wRC+). He’s gone deep eight times … and has a .286 OBP.
Psychopath/3B Brett Lawrie (-3 wRC+) headlines the rest of the lineup, which also features SS Munenori Kawasaki (75 wRC+), CF Colby Rasmus (118 wRC+), DH Adam Lind (110 wRC+), 2B Maicer Izturis (30 wRC+), OF Rajai Davis (93 wRC+), and UTIL Emilio Bonifacio (39 wRC+). UTIL Mark DeRosa (59 wRC+) gives the veteran presents and C Henry Blanco (12 wRC+) is on the roster for one reason and one reason only. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Thursday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Mark Buehrle
The Yankees will get yet another opportunity to excise their demons against left-handed pitchers in the series opener tonight. The 34-year-old Buehrle struck out seven in seven innings against New York last weekend, allowing three runs and walking one. He owns a 5.87 ERA (4.36 FIP) through four starts, and as always the peripherals are unimpressive: 6.26 K/9 (15.12 K%), 2.35 BB/9 (5.7 BB%), and 40.2% grounders. His ground ball rate has been heading south for a few years now, but Buehrle is a guy who has outpitched his peripherals his entire career. Can’t really evaluate him like we do everyone else. The long-time White Sox ace uses three different mid-80s fastballs — four-seamer, two-seamer, cutter — and an upper-70s changeup to keep hitters off balance. A low-70s curveball will also make an occasional appearance. The veteran New York lineup and veteran Buehrle have seen plenty of each other over the years. There are no surprises to be had.
Friday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Josh Johnson
Johnson, 29, is three years removed from his last full season as an ace-caliber pitcher, but he isn’t nearly as bad as this year’s 6.86 ERA and 4.59 FIP indicate. The right-hander is missing a ton of bats (8.69 K/9 and 19.4 K%), but his walk (4.12 BB/9 and 9.2 BB%) and ground ball (41.8%) numbers are far off from the elite marks he posted with the Marlins before Tommy John surgery. Johnson’s four-seamer (and seldom used two-seamer) sits in the 91-95 mph range, and his swing-and-miss mid-80s slider is a wipeout pitch he’ll throw to both righties and lefties. A hard upper-80s splitter-changeup hybrid and upper-70s curveball round out his repertoire. The Yankees have seen Johnson just twice before — they hung four runs on him in 5.1 innings last week, and the other start came way back before elbow reconstruction in 2009.
Saturday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP J.A. Happ
A few weeks ago, Happ went from being the guy the Yankees smacked around in the 2009 World Series to the guy who broke Curtis Granderson‘s forearm with an errant pitch in Spring Training. The 30-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 3.68 ERA (3.83 FIP) in his first four starts of the season, posting solid strikeout (7.77 K/9 and 20.7 K%) and walk (3.68 BB/9 and 9.8 BB%) rates to go along with extreme fly ball tendencies (35.5% grounders). Happ uses two- and four-seam fastballs that sit right around 90 mph to set up his low-80s changeup, his primary offspeed pitch. Low-80s sliders and upper-70s curves are his clear fourth and fifth pitches. The Yankees saw Happ twice last summer after was traded to Toronto, and they roughed him up both times.
Sunday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP R.A. Dickey
Dickey, 38, has yet to really get it going this season — 4.66 ERA and 4.26 FIP in five starts — after winning the NL Cy Young Award last year. He struggled last April as well — 4.45 ERA and 5.24 FIP in five starts — so I’m guessing he’ll figure out it and start dominating before long. Dickey is a feel pitcher after all, and the cold early-season months are conducive to, well, a lack of feel. His strikeout (7.45 K/9 and 19.1 K%) rate is fine but the walk (4.34 BB/9 and 11.1 BB%) and ground ball (41.4%) totals leave a lot to be desired at the moment.
Dickey’s trademark knuckleball is actually two knuckleballs — he throws a hard 76-81 mph knuckleball as a put-away pitch when ahead in the count and a softer 68-76 mph knuckleball almost like a get-me-over pitch when behind in the count. I highly recommend this 2010 Amazin’ Avenue post for more on the duel-knuckleball phenomenon. Dickey throws his knuckleball(s) roughly 90% of the time with the other 10% being filled by low-80s fastballs. He doesn’t have a UCL in his elbow, you know. The Yankees did not see Dickey last weekend but they faced him three times from 2011-2012 during the Subway Series. There’s really not much preparation you can do for a knuckleball, it’s the epitome of a see it and hit it pitch. Oh, remember when I said Blanco was on the team for one reason? Well, this is it. Here’s there to catch the knuckleball.
The Orioles did the Yankees a favor and forced the Blue Jays to play eleven innings yesterday, so Toronto’s bullpen is a little taxed coming into the series. Setup men LHP Darren Oliver (3.24 FIP) and RHP Esmil Rogers (2.77 FIP) both pitched yesterday, as did closer RHP Casey Janssen (0.27 FIP). Oliver threw two innings, the other two guys one each. LHP Aaron Loup (3.39 FIP) is the middle innings lefty and he’s pitched in each of the last two games.
Gibbons has two other lefties at his disposal, including one-time Yankees nemesis LHP Brett Cecil (3.02 FIP). He’s no longer a starter though, just a traditional middle reliever who will face both righties and lefties. Former Yankee LHP Aaron Laffey (4.62 FIP) was claimed off waivers from the Mets a few days ago and has yet to appear in a game for the Jays this season. He started on Saturday for the Amazin’s and should be ready to pitch by now. RHP Steve Delabar (2.86 FIP) rounds out the bullpen. The Yankees are in pretty good bullpen shape, but check out the Bullpen Workload page for exact usage details anyway. My preferred Blue Jays blogs are Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb.
I wasn’t planning to continue the series previews this year, but apparently they were pretty popular. I wasn’t aware of that. So, back by popular demand…
This six-game road trip features six games on artificial turf, as the Yankees now head to Tampa for three games with the Rays after playing three games against the Blue Jays in Toronto. The Bombers and Fightin’ Maddons are meeting for the first time in 2013.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Rays are 8-10 with a -7 run differential this season, but they did just sweep a three-game series against the Athletics this weekend. After scoring 53 runs in their first 15 games (3.53 per game), they scored 17 runs in the three games against Oakland (5.67 per game).
Despite the big weekend, the Rays still own a below-average team 90 wRC+ that ranks as the eighth worst in baseball. Their only injured offensive player at the moment is DH Luke Scott, who has yet to play in a game this season.
Tampa’s overhauled offense features two familiar faces in the middle of the lineup: 2B/RF Ben Zobrist (122 wRC+) and 3B Evan Longoria (142 wRC+). They’ve batted three-four pretty much everyday so far. Platoon bats 1B James Loney (146 wRC+) and former Yankee DH Shelley Duncan (106 wRC+) are off to nice starts. 2B Kelly Johnson (102 wRC+) and CF Desmond Jennings (101 wRC+) have basically been average in front of Zobrist and Longoria.
Manager Joe Maddon’s parade of part-timers includes IF Sean Rodriguez (89 wRC+) and IF Ryan Roberts (68 wRC+), who will start against lefties. OF Matt Joyce (62 wRC+) and OF Sam Fuld (-31 wRC+) get the call against lefties. SS Yunel Escobar (40 wRC+) plays everyday while pitch-framer extraordinaire C Jose Molina (85 wRC+) gets most of the starts behind the plate. C Jose Lobaton (10 wRC+) backs him up. Overall, the Rays are middle of the road when it comes to hitting homers (17), but they’ve been one of the league’s most prolific base-stealing clubs (13).
Starting Pitching Matchups
Monday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Matt Moore
The 23-year-old Moore is off to a very strong start, allowing just two runs in 18 innings across his first three starts (1.00 ERA and 3.36 FIP). The strike out (10.0 K/9 and 27.8 K%) and ground ball (52.5%) rates are strong, but he has been a little too liberal with the free pass (5.50 BB/9 and 15.3 BB%). Like everyone else it seems, Moore’s velocity is down compared to last year, but he’s still sitting in the 91-94 mph range with the four-seamer. He’ll mix in the occasional two-seamer, but otherwise his primary secondary pitches are a low-80s slider and a mid-80s changeup. The Yankees have seen the southpaw a few times now, and they’ve both hit him hard and been shutdown. Little of both.
Tuesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP David Price
Price, 27, is the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, but he’s had two good (not great) and two poor (one awful) starts in the early going (6.26 ERA and 4.49 FIP). Outside of some early homer problems (1.96 HR/9), the left-hander’s peripherals are right in line with what he’s done in recent years: 8.22 K/9 (20.8 K%), 2.74 BB/9 (6.9 BB%), and 49.3 K% grounders. Price remains a low-to-mid-90s fastball machine, throwing a ton of four-seamers, two-seamers, and cutters. An upper-70s curveball is his top offspeed pitch, but he’ll also use mid-80s changeups and sliders. We’ve all seen plenty of Price through the years, both the fans and the Yankees players. Should be no surprises here.
Wednesday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Alex Cobb
Cobb has been a trendy breakout pick this year, and he’s managed a 2.53 ERA (3.21 FIP) in his three starts so far. He hasn’t missed a ton of bats in his relatively short big league career, something that has held true so far this season (6.33 K/9 and 17.2 K%). His walk (2.53 K/9 and 6.9 BB%) and ground ball (45.2%) rates are very strong, however. Cobb uses his two- and four-seamer almost evenly, and both sit in the 88-92 mph range. His best pitch is a knockout mid-80s changeup, which he’ll use in any count against righties and lefties. He’s very similar to the departed Jamie Shields in that regard. An upper-70s curveball rounds out his repertoire. The Yankees have seen Cobb a handful of times these last two years and he’s handled them well each time.
Despite their strong rotation, the Rays rank among the AL leaders in total relief appearances (53) because of all the mixing and matching. Closer RHP Fernando Rodney has been very good again despite an early-season appearance that wrecked his pitching stat line (4.76 ERA and 5.67 FIP). Setup men RHP Joel Peralta (2.25 ERA and 2.02 FIP) and LHP Jake McGee (7.36 ERA and 5.89 FIP) have both been dynamite — McGee allowed five runs in two-thirds of an inning on Opening Day and has been whittling down his ERA ever since. He’s been untouchable of late.
Low-leverage guy RHP Brandon Gomes (4.70 ERA and 4.98 FIP) threw two innings yesterday and is presumably unavailable today. Former Yankee RHP Kyle Farnsworth (4.50 ERA and 7.02 FIP) will see some late-game action, then they have LHP Cesar Ramos (8.31 ERA and 6.02 FIP) and long-time big leaguer RHP Jamey Wright (2.06 ERA and 3.86 FIP) filling out Maddon’s seven-man relief unit. Outside of David Phelps, everyone should be available for Joe Girardi in the series opener tonight. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent usage details. For the latest and greatest on the Rays, we recommend DRays Bay and The Process Report.
The seven-game losing streak is over. The Yankees won their second game of the Grapefruit League this afternoon, pounding a bunch of Tigers minor leaguers while their regulars stayed home and played a split squad game. Brett Gardner continued his molten hot spring with two hits and two steals, though Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Matt Diaz, and Jayson all had hits as well. Chris Stewart hit a homer (!), if you can believe that.
Ivan Nova threw two scoreless innings and was really, really sharp. He threw a ton of strikes and was living down in the zone. Hopefully that continues and carries over into the regular season. David Aardsma and Clay Rapada each allowed a run while southpaw Francisco Rondon continued to impress (at least me, I don’t know about you) with two strikeouts in a scoreless inning. He just needs to work on locating his fastball a bit better, but he’s got a real easy delivery and an out-pitch breaking ball. I’m a fan. Anyway, here’s the box score and here’s the rest from Tampa…
- The Yankees announced the first round of roster cuts following the game. First baseman Kyle Roller and right-handers Corey Black, Matt Daley, Nick Goody, Shane Greene, Bryan Mitchell, Zach Nuding, Mikey O’Brien, and Ryan Pope were all reassigned to minor league camp. Daley, who has a few years of big league time, is the only real surprise. The Yankees still have 74 (!) players in big league camp.
- Derek Jeter began moving side-to-side while taking ground balls. Unsurprisingly, he looked pretty stiff during the drill thanks to that surgically repaired left ankle. [John Harper]
- The Yankees have Eduardo Nunez and Mick Kelleher working on a new throwing motion in an effort to cut down on his errors. They’re basically shortening his motion and trading some arm strength — which Nunez has plenty to spare — for accuracy. Will it work? Unlikely. They tried this a few years ago as well. [George King]
- In case you missed it earlier, Phil Hughes (bulging disk) has been cleared to play catch while Boone Logan (elbow) and Slade Heathcott (thumb) will be shut down for a few days. MRIs came back clean.
- The travel squad for tomorrow’s game against the Red Sox is pretty light on projected big leaguers, with Gardner, Nunez, and Juan Rivera being the one ones to really qualify. Adam Warren gets that start and the game will be available on YES.
Here is your open thread for the night. The Nets are the only local team in action tonight, so talk about whatever you like. Enjoy.
With position players now in camp, the Yankees held their first full squad workout of 2013 today. Here’s the latest from Tampa…
- Chad Jennings has the day’s batting practice groups, which include pretty much everyone. It was a light day for the pitchers, with Hiroki Kuroda the only projected big leaguer to throw. He didn’t face hitters, it was just a bullpen session.
- Derek Jeter ran on the field for the first time since ankle surgery — he had been running on a treadmill — and did some defensive drills, including some side-to-side movements. He did not run the bases. Eduardo Nunez, meanwhile, made at least two errors during infield drills, so hooray for that. [Dan Barbarisi, Jennings, Sweeny Murti & Mark Feinsand]
- Joe Girardi gave his annual start-of-camp speech, saying the message is “let’s get better … I mean, that’s the bottom line. Let’s get prepared and let’s get better. That’s what we’re here for.” [Bryan Hoch]
- First official batting practice homer of the new season? It belongs to new DH Travis Hafner. What does it mean? Nothing. It’s baseball. [Hoch]
This is your open thread for the night. None of the local sports teams are in action, so you’re on your own for entertainment. You folks know how these things work by now, so have at it.
Important late-season series between the Yankees and Red Sox are nothing new, but this one has nothing to do with the standings between the two clubs. New York is tied atop the AL East and locked in a tight race with the Orioles while Boston is buried in last place, 20-something games out of first.
What Have They Done Lately?
Lay down for Baltimore, mostly. The Red Sox just got swept in a three-game series in Camden Yards that was so pathetic is appeared as though they were trying to lose. Maybe they were. Boston has lost five straight and nine of their last ten. At 69-90 (-51 run differential), they have the third worst record in the league and have secured the franchises first 90-loss season since 1966.
The 4.6 runs per game average looks solid, but most of the damage was done a long time ago. David Ortiz (166 wRC+) and Will Middlebrooks (121 wRC+) are on the DL while Adrian Gonzalez (114 wRC+) is in Los Angeles and Kelly Shoppach (96 wRC+) is in Flushing. Since the big trade with the Dodgers, a span of 33 team games, the Red Sox have averaged just 3.4 runs per game. That’s unfathomably bad.
Among the players still on the roster, the best is Dustin Pedroia (111 wRC+) and I don’t think it’s particularly close. Cody Ross (114 wRC+) actually has better numbers, but I’m sure we’d all rather see him up in a big spot than Pedroia. At least I would. Pretty easily too. Jacoby Ellsbury (88 wRC+) has had a miserable and injury-plagued year, but he can still be dangerous. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (97 wRC+) hits homers and nothing else, plus both Scott Podsednik (83 wRC+) and Ryan Lavarnway (25 wRC+) get regular at-bats as well.
The rest of the lineup is a collection of retreads, has-beens, and never-wases. Pedro Ciriaco (88 wRC+) has killed the Yankees this season but done little else at the plate. James Loney (66 wRC+) and Mauro Gomez (93 wRC+) split time at first while Jose Iglesias (17 wRC+) and Mike Aviles (73 wRC+) do the same at short. Daniel Nava (103 wRC+) has had a nice-half year, and the rest of the active position player crop includes outfielders Ryan Kalish and Che-Hsuan Lin, infielders Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Danny Valencia, and third catcher Guillermo Quiroz.
Monday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Clay Buchholz
One of the few bright spots in this disaster of a second half for the Red Sox has been Buchholz. The 28-year-old right-hander has pitched to a 4.22 ERA (4.46 FIP) in 187.2 innings overall, but that is broken down into a 5.53 ERA (5.20 FIP) in the first half (86.1 IP) and a 3.11 ERA (3.47 FIP) in the second half (101.1 IP). Buchholz still doesn’t miss as many bats as his stuff says he should (6.09 K/9 and 16.1 K% with no improvement in the second half), but he limits walks (2.97 BB/9 and 7.9 BB%) and gets ground balls (48.0%). He uses a low-to-mid-90s four-seamer and an upper-80s cutter to set up his low-80s changeup and upper-70s curveball. Buchholz has one of the best changeups in baseball, a pitch that anecdotally gives the Yankees fits. They tagged him for six runs in six innings (including five homers) back in April, but that was a different pitcher.
Tuesday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Jon Lester
It’s not quite a Ricky Romero disaster season, but this will be the final start of Lester’s worst season as a full-time big leaguer. He’s set new career worsts in ERA (4.94), FIP (4.14), strikeout rate (7.41 K/9 and 19.3 K%), and homerun rate (1.12 HR/9) while maintaining his usually strong walk (3.01 BB/9 and 7.9 BB%) and ground ball (48.8%) numbers. Lester is a three-fastball (low-90s four-seamer, low-90s sinker, upper-80s cutter) pitcher who backs them up with a mid-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball. The Yankees have seen both the good and bad versions of the 28-year-old left-hander this year and throughout recent seasons. There’s no secret here.
Wednesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka
Six years after being declared the world’s best pitcher not in MLB, Matsuzaka will be making his final start for the Red Sox in the final game of the season. The 32-year-old owns a 7.68 ERA (5.53 FIP) this year and a 4.47 ERA (4.34 FIP) during his big league career, hardly what Boston expected when they sunk nine figures into him. Dice-K has racked up the strikeouts this year (8.10 K/9 and 19.4 K%), but he still walks too many (3.95 BB/9 and 9.5 BB%) and doesn’t get enough ground balls (39.9%). His stuff is pretty much back to normal after Tommy John surgery, meaning a low-90s four-seamer, an upper-80s cutter, and an array for offspeed pitches: low-80s slider, low-80s changeup, mid-80s splitter. The Yankees have not seen Matsuzaka this year but have seen him enough in recent years to know that he’ll work himself into trouble.
Well, if nothing else, closer Andrew Bailey (3.46 FIP) is well-rested following the Red Sox’s latest stretch of awfulness. Right-hander Junichi Tazawa (1.82 FIP) and left-hander Andrew Miller (3.18 FIP) form a pretty dominant setup tandem, though Vicente Padilla (3.98 FIP) and Craig Breslow (2.51 FIP) will see some late-inning time as well. After all the roster turnover and whatnot, the bullpen is the strength of this Boston team.
Working the middle innings are old friends Mark Melancon (4.70 FIP) and Al Aceves (4.21 FIP), ditto funky left-hander Rich Hill (2.84 FIP). Scott Atchison (2.51 FIP) has pitched well, Clayton Mortenson (4.46 FIP) less so. Daniel Bard (6.38 FIP) is a disaster, and the rest of the bullpen is filled out by September call-ups Pedro Beato and former Yankees draft pick Chris Carpenter. Given the enormity of this series, I imagine Joe Girardi‘s typical bullpen management is going out the window and he’ll use whoever he needs to use to win in all three games. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for usage details, then check out Over The Monster for the latest and greatest on the Red Sox.