The Yankees (62-35, 1st place in AL East, 3-game lead) head to Cleveland to play four games against the sad Indians (41-57, last place in AL Central) for the final time this season. Last time the two teams squared off during Memorial Day Weekend the Yankees won three of four, and really should have swept if not for an epic meltdown by Joba Chamberlain.
In tonight’s game the Yankees will send the enigmatic Javier Vazquez (4.68 ERA; 4.93 FIP; 4.60 xFIP) to the mound against Jake Westbrook (4.74 ERA; 4.59 FIP; 4.44 xFIP). Vazquez was cruising in his last start before completely unraveling in the fifth, though one would hope that he has enough to keep the Indians’ mediocre offense at bay. Jake Westbrook is having a fairly typical Jake Westbrook season, and the Yankees always seem to hit him pretty well, so this one should be in the bag for the good guys.
In the second game, CC Sabathia (3.18 ERA; 3.64 FIP; 3.88 xFIP) faces rookie Josh Tomlin. Ordinarily Sabathia against anyone makes a Yankee fan feel pretty damn good about their team’s chances, although unfortunately the Indians are countering with a pitcher making his Major League debut, and we all know how that tends to go for the Yanks. Just once I’d like to see them welcome a kid to the Majors with an absolute pounding.
In Wednesday’s game A.J. Burnett (4.77 ERA; 4.75 FIP; 4.78 xFIP) goes up against Fausto Carmona (3.51 ERA; 4.00 FIP; 4.52 xFIP). Burnett seemed to recover in his last outing against Kansas City, but I’ll need to see a string of solid performances before I start to regain confidence. Carmona is probably the Tribe’s best starter, but the Yanks haven’t had too much trouble getting to him the past few seasons, and should be able to do so again at hitter-friendly Progressive Field, or whatever the hell they’re calling the ballpark in Cleveland these days.
And in the finale, Dustin Moseley (4.22 ERA; 5.73 FIP; 4.70 xFIP) gets the nod over Sergio Mitre against
though the Yankees haven’t officially announced it yet, Sergio Mitre (2.88 ERA; 4.67 FIP; 4.58 xFIP), world beater of world beaters, is expected to take on Mitch Talbot (3.89 ERA; 4.44 FIP; 4.88 xFIP). Talbot actually pitched pretty well against the Yanks back on Memorial Day, giving up three runs over six and a third innings, but his bullpen blew the game wide open. Despite a sterling effort in relief on Saturday, I’m not sure how much of an upgrade Moseley is over Mitre, but I guess at this point anything’s better than Mitre. If Moseley gets in trouble, Mitre will almost certainly be the first man out of the ‘pen.
You don’t need me to show you the numbers to know that the Indians are having another bad year. When you’re hanging around the bottom three in the American League in both wOBA and FIP, you’re going to have a tough time winning a lot of games.
Much to my enjoyment, the Yankees have finally returned to their rightful perch leading the American League in wOBA after trailing the recently limping Red Sox offense for the past month or so. Interestingly, the Yankees’ offensive numbers have all risen for the most part since the All-Star break, while the overall pitching numbers have fallen. While I do love having an offensive juggernaut, it’d be great to see the pitching get back to what it’s been doing for the majority of the year.
If you read the series previews you know that I typically refuse to call a four-game sweep no matter how bad one’s opponent might be, because even the Indians are fully capable of beating the Yankees at least once in a four-game set. That being said, the Yankees have to take three of four when facing competition as weak as Cleveland, and really should sweep after al
l is said and done. While the Mitre start is cause for concern, even he should be able to at least keep his team in the ballgame against the Indians.