Game 52: Memorial Day

I dunno, what do you think? They’re certainly better than those bright red monstrosities from two years ago, thought I actually liked the all-white hats from last year. They had an old timey feel to them, I guess. These two-tone hats aren’t completely awful, but I won’t be rushing out to buy one anytime soon. Here’s the lineup…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Jorge Posada, DH
Nick Swisher, RF
Brett Gardner, LF
Frankie Cervelli, C – Russell Martin was scratched with a sore toe

Bartolo Colon, SP

This afternoon’s game can be seen at 4:05pm ET on YES. Enjoy and happy Memorial Day.

Yankees will stay on rotation despite off day

Via Marc Carig, the Yankees intend to stay on rotation this week and will use Thursday’s off day to give the five starters an extra day of rest. That means Ivan Nova will start Friday even though he could have easily been skipped since Thursday would have been his normal day to pitch. Following Saturday’s dismantling at the hands of the Mariners, Nova has now allowed 16 runs and 39 baserunners in 18.2 IP over his last four starts. He’s also dangerously close to a sub-1.00 K/BB ratio on the year (27 K, 24 BB), and his 3.9% swing-and-miss rate is dead last among qualified starters. Meh.

Series Preview: Oakland Athletics

Robbed. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

After having multiple run leads in all three games against the Mariners and losing two of them, the Yankees are heading down to the Bay Area for a three game set against the Oakland Athletics. These two teams have quite a bit of recent-ish history, like Jason Giambi, Scott Brosius, and the 2000 and 2001 ALDSes. The Yankees won nine of the ten games against the Athletics last year, including five of six in Oakland.

What Have The Athletics Done Lately?

The A’s are coming off a three game sweep of the Orioles, outscoring the orange birds 16-8 over the weekend. They had lost seven of nine before that, including six straight at one point. Overall, the Athletics are right at .500 with a 27-27 record, dead last in the division even though their +12 run differential is second best.

Athletics On Offense

He's the Hit-deki, you know. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Eh, they don’t really have much of an one. Despite several notable offseason additions, the A’s have the third worst team OBP (.307) in the AL and they average just 3.65 runs per game. The problems start right at the top, where leadoff man Coco Crisp gets on base just 30.7% of the time and number two hitter Daric Barton gets on base just 32.6% of the time (.393 OBP for Barton last year).

The remade middle of the order features David DeJesus (.247/.323/.385), Josh Willingham (.244/.328/.446), and True Yankee™ Hideki Matsui (.266/.282/.346), and those three aren’t exactly Gonzalez-Youkilis-Ortiz. Kurt Suzuki (.250/.314/.372), Mark Ellis (.213/.249/.295), Cliff Pennington (.259/.312/.341) and Kevin Kouzmanoff (.220/.262/.347) round out the rest of the lineup, though we might see lefty Ryan Sweeney (.320/.414/.413) and righty Conor Jackson (.264/.349/.345) is various matchup situations. With a team batting line of .241/.307/.351 on the season, facing the A’s is almost like facing a lineup of nine Derek Jeters. Think about that.

Athletics On The Mound

Monday, RHP Trevor Cahill: Last year looked like a fluke, given a .236 BABIP and a 56% ground ball rate. The extremes of those two stats usually don’t go together. The 23-year-old righty has shown that he’s legit by repeating his dominance this year, using a 7.07 K/9 and 57.2% ground balls to carve through lineups. Cahill’s approach is pretty simple; he pounds the zone with low-90’s sinkers pretty much all day long, though he’ll occasionally bust out a low-80’s changeup and an upper-70’s curveball to get swings and misses. The Yankees have roughly him up in the past, but that was before Cahill took a step forward and turned into one of the best pitchers in the AL. He’s everything we wish Ivan Nova could be.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Tuesday, LHP Brett Anderson: A personal fave, Anderson employs the same strikeout (6.90 K/9) and ground ball (62.3%) heavy approach as Cahill, just with his other arm. He throws two fastballs in the low-90’s, using his sinking two-seamer a little more often than his four-seamer, but his money pitch is the slider. It’s absolute death on lefties and Anderson will throw the low-80’s offering more than 46% of the time, so he’ll go to it in any count. A curveball and changeup fill in the gaps, but he just uses them as show-me pitches more than anything. When healthy, which wasn’t often last year, Anderson’s the best pitcher on this staff, even better than Cahill.

Wednesday, LHP Gio Gonzalez: The Athletics have a pair of guys named Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso in their rotation, yet somehow the Yankees will run into their top three arms this series. Go figure. Gio’s the strikeout guy on the staff (9.10 K/9), though he also gets a decent amount of grounders as well (50.6%). The problem is that he’s shown a tendency to walk quite a few (4.04 BB/9), and we’ve seen the Yankees take advantage of that a few times over the last two seasons. Gonzalez goes to the mound with three true pitches that he uses almost equally: a low-to-mid 90’s four-seamer (30.0%), a low-90’s two-seamer (32.4%), and a big breaking curveball right around 80 mph (32.5%). About one in every 20 pitches will be a fosh changeup. Gio’s a bit of a wildcard, he’s the kind of guy that could walk six in five innings or whiff a dozen in nine. But again, the Yankees have had some success against him the last few times they’ve seen him.

Easy dude. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Bullpen: The A’s are a model pitching and defense team, so they unsurprisingly have a strong bullpen that got even stronger yesterday when they welcomed All-Star closer Andrew Bailey back from the disabled list. We’re all familiar with the hard throwing setup man Grant Balfour (10.22 K/9), who joins the slider happy Michael Wuertz (9.88 K/9) to give manager Bob Geren a pair of high strikeout options in the late innings. Craig Breslow has been even more anti-LOOGY than Boone Logan (LHB are hitting .400/.424/.533 off him), though Geren could always turn to fill-in closer Brian Fuentes (.250/.308/.333) in those spots. The rest of Oakland’s pen is occupied by Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler, a pair of low arm slot (in Ziegler’s case, submarine) righties that do their best work against batters of the same hand. It’s the kind of relief crew that can create matchup nightmares in the late innings, and just about all of them miss bats.

Recommended Athletics Reading: Athletics Nation and Beaneball

Hughes could face hitters this week

Phil Hughes threw a 30-pitch bullpen session before yesterday’s game against the Mariners, starting off with 20 fastballs before incorporating a handful of curveballs and changeups. Everything went well and Hughes felt fine, no pain or anything. He will take today and tomorrow off before throwing another bullpen on Wednesday, and if all goes well there’s a chance that he could throw live batting practice before the end of the week. That would be pretty amazing, but the real test won’t come until he makes a minor league rehab start.

Fan Confidence Poll: May 30th, 2011

Record Last Week: 3-3 (29 RS, 24 RA)
Season Record: 28-23 (264 RS, 209 RA, 31-20 pythag. record), tied in the loss column
Opponents This Week: @ Athletics (Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Angels (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the (new and improved!) Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Yankees salvage series, beat Mariners 7-1

Yay Andruw. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

This one got out of hand early. Nick Swisher put the Yankees on top with a solo homer in the second, then Andruw Jones broke things open with a bases clearing double to the opposite field in the third. Eduardo Nunez also chipped in a run scoring triple, though he only gets a two for the slide into the base. T’was ugly. The Yankees were up seven-zip before the Mariners came to bat in the fourth, and CC Sabathia made it a non-issue the rest of the way. The big guy gave up just one run (a garbage time solo homer by Justin Smoak) in eight innings, and did exactly what the team needed him to do after a pair of rough losses and early exists by A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova.

It’s off to Oakland now, and you’ll be able to watch the Yankees while chowing down during your Memorial Day cookout at 4pm ET on Monday. Bartolo Colon will take on the amazingly awesome Trevor Cahill. Enjoy the holiday if you’re not going to be around. Here’s the box score and WPA graph of Sunday’s game, by the way.

SWB backs Phelps with ninth inning rally

Triple-A Scranton (8-4 win over Louisville) mounted a four-run, ninth inning rally off the $30M man
Austin Krum, LF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K
Ramiro Pena, SS: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI – 13 for his last 36 (.333) with two doubles and a homer
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 3 K – 16 K in his last nine games
Jorge Vazquez, 1B, Brandon Laird, DH, Kevin Russo, 3B & Doug Bernier, 2B: all 1 for 4 – JoVa scored a run … Laird doubled in a run and came around to score … Bernier scored a run, drove one in and whiffed twice
Justin Maxwell, LF: 1 for 2, 2R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K – third straight game with a jack … nine for his last 18 with two doubles and three homers
Dan Brewer, RF: 0 for 4, 2 K
David Phelps, RHP: 8 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 7-5 GB/FB – not a perfect outing, but he only needed 82 pitches (57 strikes, 69.5%) to complete eight innings even with all those baserunners
Randy Flores, LHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1-1 GB/FB – half of his dozen pitches went for strikes

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