Team UZR/150: 1.4, 11th in the Majors, 5th in the American League
The Athletics are pretty average defensively. They took a hit losing Matt Holliday (8.7 UZR/150 in left) but with Ryan Sweeney (15.0) and Rajai Davis (16.6) they’ve got a solid defensive outfield anyways. The infield hasn’t been so good this year. Usually steady glove man Orlando Cabrera was awful in his brief stay in the bay area. Ellis and Kennedy have been solid. If Jack Cust gets to play in the field, something funny could happen.
Team FIP: 4.23, 10th in the Majors, 3rd in the American League
Game 1: A.J. Burnett vs. Brett Tomko
Game 2: C.C. Sabbathia vs. Vin Mazzaro
Game 3: Andy Pettitte vs. Brett Anderson
The Athletics have done a wonderful job building a cheap and effective pitching staff. For virtually no money, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden, Viz Mazzaro, and Gio Gonzalez have given Oakland better than league average starting pitching. By FIP, the Athletics pitching staff has been better than the Yankees this season. That is especially impressive considering that Mazzaro, Cahill, and Anderson are all rookies. The Athletic rotation could be a force for years to come.
Fortunately for the Bombers, they miss staff ace Braden and top prospect Cahill. As you readers surely remember, Brett Tomko was brutal in the Bronx. His FIP was over six, and he really hasn’t been any good in years. Should be a feast tonight. Mazzaro isn’t a whole lot better. In seventy-six innings he’s struck out forty-nine and walked thirty-one. He’s young, but not especially good and doesn’t have a real high ceiling. Another good match up for New York. Anderson offers something different than the other two. He’s been the second most effective pitcher for the A’s this season, and has his career off to a very good start. His FIP is under four right now, and he’s struck out 103 batters in 126 innings. Furthermore, he’s a ground ball pitcher, so he should be able to keep the Yankees in the yard for most of the night. Anderson has been a little inconsistent, but he has shown flashes of brilliance. Last month he threw a two hit shutout, striking out nine against the Red Sox in Fenway. He certainly has the ability to stifle the Yankee offense.
Should the A’s enter the late innings with a lead, they have a very good bull pen to close out the game. All star Andrew Bailey is having an excellent rookie season. Brad Ziegler is posting a 65% ground ball rate, and has allowed only one home run. Craig Breslow has held left handed batters to a .191 batting average over his career. And according to fangraphs, Mike Wuertz has the single toughest pitch to hit in all of baseball: over 25% of the time he throws a slider, the batter will swing and miss.
The Yankees are, right now, the best team in baseball. In this series, they play one of the worst. Given the favorable pitching match ups in the first two games, New York ought to be disappointed with anything less than two wins, and a sweep is very possible. The Yanks are the class of the East: they should be able to prove it in the Bay Area.