An opportunity

After finishing off a series win against the Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field, the Yankees traveled home last night to prepare for a homestand beginning this evening.  First, the club will take on Oakland in a four-game series.  The pitching matchups are as follows:

Monday, 7 pm EST – Trevor Cahill v. Dustin Moseley.  Cahill is the anomaly of the year with a .217 BABIP and a FIP almost a run and a half lower than his ERA this year.  Dave Cameron outlined the issues surrounding his BABIP at Fangraphs a week ago, and it’s worth a read.  The short version is that Cahill is probably throwing pitches that are harder to hit, but is almost certainly getting good fortune on balls in play.

Tuesday, 7 pm EST – Vin Mazzaro v. Phil Hughes. This will be Hughes’ 25th start of the season, and a six inning start would put him at the 150 inning mark.  He’ll be opposed by New Jersey native Vin Mazzaro, who has been similar to Cahill in terms of balls in play this season.

Wednesday, 7 pm EST – Brett Anderson v. AJ Burnett.  Anderson has been plagued by injury all season, but has been mostly effective whenever he manages to take the mound.  This game will be the last night game the team will play until the following Tuesday, which is annoying for those of us with day jobs.

Thursday, 1 pm EST – Dallas Braden of Bradenia v. CC Sabathia.  Unfortunately, Alex Rodriguez will not be active for this game to face Braden.  As of now there is no word as to whether another Yankee will attempt to breach the sovereignty of Braden’s mound.

While the Yankees are facing the Athletics, the Rays will host Toronto for a three game set.  The Blue Jays will follow this by coming to New York for a three-game weekend set.

Friday, 1 pm EST – Brandon Morrow v. Ivan Nova.  The Jays have announced that this will be the last start of the year for Morrow.  Given the way he pitched against the Yankees in his last outing, it’s unfortunate that they didn’t decide to shut him down sooner.

Saturday, 1 pm EST – Mark Rzepczynski v. Dustin Moseley.  The Yankees bludgeoned Rzepczynski last time around, and Moseley was able to keep the Jays largely off-balance.

Sunday, 1 pm EST – Ricky Romero v. Phil Hughes.  This will be the fourth time the Yankees will face Romero this season.  In two of those outings he shut the Yankees down; on July 3rd he was rocked for eight earned runs over 2 innings.  Hopefully familiarity will enable the Yankees to stake Hughes to an early lead.

During this series, the Rays begin a road trip by traveling to Baltimore for a three-game set.  That Monday, they begin a three-game series in Boston. During that time, the Yankees will host the Orioles for the final three games of the homestand.

Monday, 1 pm EST – AJ Burnett v. Jake Arrieta.  The Yankees could shuffle the rotation at some point, deciding to reinsert Javier Vazquez back into the rotation or move Burnett back to give him extra rest.  At this point, however, he is on track to face Oakland and then Baltimore.

Tuesday, 7 pm EST – CC Sabathia v. Brad Bergensen. This is another favorable pitching matchup for the Yankees.  Bergensen has a 5.55 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP in 131 innings this season.

Wednesday, 1 pm EST – Ivan Nova v. Kevin Millwood.  The final game of the homestand is another day game, the sixth one out of ten.  Millwood has been ineffective this season, so this is another good opportunity for the Yankees to extend their division advantage.

Now, the Yankees could shuffle the rotation at any point.  Dustin Moseley and Ivan Nova could both be bumped when Pettitte returns or when they decide to give Vazquez another turn.  Additionally, the team could always decide to move Burnett’s start back.  Despite that, the Yankees have a fantastic opportunity over the next ten games.  They will travel to Tampa, Texas and then Baltimore before returning home to host the Rays and the Red Sox.  They finish the regular season in Toronto and Boston.  Meanwhile, the Rays finish the season with Seattle, Baltimore and Kansas City.  At the end of the day, all that matters is getting into the playoffs.  Yet if the club has designs on winning the American League East and securing home field advantage throughout the ALDS and ALCS, then the next ten games will be crucial.  On paper, it will not be any easier for the Yankees until October is over. Hopefully they beat up on the dregs of the American League so that the final week of the season is free of drama and full of AAA players getting playing time.