|Photo c/o Babes Love Baseball|
The Athletics (65-64, 2nd place in the AL West) come to Yankee Stadium for the first and only time this season for a four-game set starting tonight. The teams have already seen each other twice before, and the Yankees (80-50, tied for first in the AL East) have had little trouble dispatching the A’s this season, having gone 5-1 in six games at Oakland, the only loss coming in the infamous Dallas Braden game back in April. The Yankees didn’t see Braden last month, but they’ll get another shot at him this week, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can shut them down again — this time on the road.
The story for the A’s in 2010 has been their stellar pitching staff, which leads the American League in ERA by 0.25 and is third in FIP. Their starters also lead the AL in ERA with a 3.36 mark, nearly 0.50 better than the second-best Mariners (3.75 ERA). Of course, their numbers are slightly inflated due to playing 81 home games in the pitcher-friendly environs of Oakland Coliseum — the A’s boast a 2.86 ERA at home, and a 4.17 mark on the road. Look for the Yankees to exploit that discrepancy.
In the first game, Dustin Moseley (4.53 ERA; 5.97 FIP; 4.84 xFIP) faces Trevor Cahill (2.43 ERA; 4.04 FIP; 4.12 xFIP), one of a trio of A’s starters in the top 35 in AL WAR. Cahill has accumulated 2.1, while Gio Gonzalez is at 3.0 and Dallas Braden 2.7. Cahill’s being talked about as a potential Cy Young candidate in some circles, but I don’t see how he’s even in the conversation considering the seasons that Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez are having. For one, Lee’s been worth nearly three times (5.9) as much as Cahill has in the exact same number of starts (23). Additionally, there’s a pretty significant difference between Cahill’s ERA and FIP, which suggests he’s benefited from a decent helping of luck. That being said, Cahill’s obviously a significantly superior pitcher to Moseley, although the light-hitting A’s lineup shouldn’t present a tremendous challenge to Dustin. Additionally, the Yanks hit Cahill pretty hard last time around, while Moseley acquitted himself well against the Jays last week, so this game might not be as much of a mismatch as it seems on paper.
Game two has Phil Hughes (4.12 ERA; 4.02 FIP; 4.25 xFIP) going up against Vin Mazzaro (3.61 ERA; 4.59 FIP; 4.49 xFIP). The Yanks haven’t seen Mazzaro this year yet (uh oh), but they did face him twice last season, knocking him around for six runs in 4 1/3 innings the first time around but only one run over five in the second outing. Hughes hasn’t had an amazing August (4.33 ERA), but it’s been better than his June and July were. Hughes came within six outs of no-hitting the A’s back in his second start of the season, and if Phil can start minimizing the fouls balls and figure out how to finish guys off when he gets two strikes on them he should be able to cakewalk over Oakland.
The third game pits A.J. Burnett (5.17 ERA; 4.77 FIP; 4.71 xFIP), being granted a reprieve and remaining the rotation for the time being, against Brett Anderson (3.32 ERA; 3.00 FIP; 3.49 xFIP). Anderson’s had a pretty decent year, accumulating 1.7 WAR in only 12 starts. A.J. Burnett, as previously discussed, has been rather miserable this season despite two very strong months. The Yankees have not seen Anderson this season (double oh no!) but they did face him three times last year, dropping nine runs on him over 12 innings in two games at Yankee Stadium. Still, Burnett has a lot of work to do before I start trusting him again, and so this game definitely favors the A’s in my opinion.
And the finale pits CC Sabathia (3.14 ERA; 3.63 FIP; 3.83 xFIP) against President of the Alex Rodriguez Fan Club Dallas Braden (3.28 ERA; 3.67 FIP; 4.21 xFIP). The last time these two squared off it resulted in Oakland’s aforementioned only win against the Yankees this season. Braden no doubt will come out with a huge chip on his shoulder, despite the fact that A-Rod won’t even be playing, but Sabathia should dominate the A’s lineup and I expect the big man to come through once again in this contest.
Here are the two teams’ offense and pitching numbers:
As expected, the Yanks crush Oakland on offense. The A’s are the second-least powerful team in the league. The pitching staffs are much more closely aligned — the A’s have stronger numbers from their starters, but the Yanks appear to have the superior bullpen. Overall, both teams do a strong job of limiting baserunners while also stranding the ones that do make it aboard.
Regardless of some strong starting pitching on Oakland’s side, the Yankees should be able to take care of business against the A’s this week, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t take three of four. If this series was on the road, I’d expect a split, but at home the Yankees really have no excuse not to beat up the weaker A’s.