This afternoon, the Yankees will wrap up their four-game series against the visiting Cleveland Indians at 1:05 pm. Fresh off their come from behind win on Sunday afternoon, the Yankees will send Andy Pettitte to the mound to face one Mitchell R. Talbot. The team will be looking to seal a series victory against Cleveland, after taking the first two of three.
The Indians acquired Talbot in a deal with the Rays over the offseason. This year, he is 6-3 with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. Now watch as I do my best Joe Morgan impression: “My pick for the Cy Young so far in 2010 has to be Mitch Talbot. If you look at his record, you see 6 wins. And only 3 losses. When Talbot pitches, the Indians win and without winning your team can’t do well. Talbot is a winner. Some people think that stats should decide the Cy Young but as you can see Talbot has the most wins and should be the Cy Young”.
That said, Mitch Talbot is the best advertisement so far in 2010 for looking past the W-L record and even the ERA and WHIP when evaluating a pitcher. His FIP is 5.22 and his xFIP is 5.01, a discrepancy of over a run. The reason is that Talbot has benefited from an unusually lucky BABIP of .235. Best of all, Talbot features an identical strikeout and walk rate: 3.58. That’s an incredibly low amount of strikeouts, and a decent sized amount of walks. If Talbot was a stock, I’d be shorting it. He’s going to crash, it’s simply a question of when.
The Yankees counter with Pettitte, who is also off to a decent start. Through 58.1 innings, Pettitte has a 2.62 ERA. Like Talbot though, Pettitte’s FIP and xFIP, 3.74 and 4.18, respectively, betray a relatively lucky year thus far. Pettitte’s luck doesn’t stem as much from a beneficial BABIP, although at .276 it sits around 40 points lower than his career average of .315, as much as it comes from his strand rate of 81% (10% higher than career average) and his HR/FB rate of 7.0% (2% lower than career average). One small point of concern with Pettitte is that his K rate has fallen to 5.85, which is a batter less per nine innings than it was in 2009. It’s still early in the year, so it remains to be seen whether this is a permanent change.
The Yankees are sending a lefty-heavy lineup to face the righty Talbot. Courtesy of LoHud, the lineup is:
Hopefully the lineup can bang out some runs early and stake Pettitte to an early lead. After this past few games, I could really go for a good old-fashioned blowout.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t wish you all a happy Memorial Day. I hope you enjoy the day off and the nice weather. I will be trying to put together my new grill in time to cook out on my new deck. To any veterans out there, I want you to know how much we appreciate your service and your sacrifice for our country. This is hardly sufficient, but I think I speak for all of the writers here at TYU in offering my sincere thanks and gratitude for all that you’ve done for us. Thank you. And to all of the service members in Afghanistan and Iraq, including my buddy Tim: stay safe, and get home soon.