Game Thread and Series Preview: Yankees vs. White Sox I

Cano turning a double play (photo c/o of UPI)

Programming note: Please use this as your game thread for tonight.

The reeling Chicago White Sox (8-14, last in the AL Central), losers of nine of their last 10 games, come to the Stadium this week for a four-gamer against the first-place Yankees (12-6). The AL Central has certainly been one of the stranger stories of the early 2011 season, with Cleveland spending way more time than it has any right to in first place, while Kansas City is currently tied for second. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins and the ChiSox, two teams that many expected to be contend for the division crown, have limped to rather painful starts. In the former’s case, the Twinkies really have yet to get going, while the Sox were actually looking pretty good before this recent stretch of futility.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, Chicago isn’t as bad as it’s played recently, so forget everything you think you know about the 2011 White Sox. While their offense has left quite a bit to be desired, they still boast a formidable starting rotation — even if the numbers don’t necessarily back that up at the moment — and a solid bullpen, which, despite the fact that it has already blown its share of games, has been the victim of some rather extraordinary bad luck, as evidenced by the unit’s unsustainable .317 BABIP and 64.2% LOB%. In fact, two out of the Chicago bullpen’s “big three” peripherals have been outstanding, as they are currently tops in the AL in both K/9 and BB/9 — the HR/9 is the killer here. As the home run rate regresses, xFIP expects the Chicago ‘pen will have the best ERA in the AL going forward, and so all is not quite as bad as it might seem on the south side.

In tonight’s game, A.J. Burnett (4.37 ERA/4.73 FIP/3.92 xFIP) faces Philip Humber (4.42 ERA/3.54 FIP/4.29 xFIP). I missed A.J.’s last start, though it sounded like it wasn’t exactly great. According to whitesox.com, this is Humber’s first appearance and start at Yankee Stadium, which means the Yankees will be no-hit tonight. Kidding aside, Humber is certainly the least of the Chicago five, and while his early numbers are OK, his FIP is being buoyed by a tiny HR/9 — expect that to change, especially at the Stadium against the home run-happy Bombers.

Tuesday’s contest pits the underwhelming Ivan Nova (7.63 ERA/4.03 FIP/5.32 xFIP) against Gavin Floyd (4.00 ERA/3.79 FIP/3.34 xFIP). While Nova spun six very important innings in a much-needed win against Chicago last fall, the 2011 version of Nova has failed to impress, although perhaps the relative impatience (6.9% BB%) of the Chicago lineup will work toward Nova’s favor. Floyd was excellent (6.2IP, 2ER) in that very same Nova game against the Yanks in a hard-luck loss in his only start of the year against them last year on August 29, though he appears to be one of the many pitchers missing some velocity this year (avg. fastball down to 90.5mph from 92.4mph in 2010), so hopefully the Yankees will be able to hit him a bit harder this time.

Wednesday sees the suddenly awesome Bartolo Colon (3.50 ERA/3.10 FIP/2.76 xFIP) go against Mr. Workhorse himself, Mark Buehrle (5.40 ERA/3.81 FIP/4.46 xFIP). Buehrle’s been knocked around a fair amount thus far this year save for a gem against the A’s. Looking at his pitch type ledger, it’s pretty amazing that he’s been able to survive and thrive as a Major League pitcher for as long as he has with a fastball that’s averaged 86.3mph over the course of his career, but of course, as we all know, crafty junk-throwing lefties can last a very long time in the Bigs as long as they can keep hitters wildly off-balance with a dizzying array of slow, slower and slowest pitches. Looking atBuehrle’s repertoire, it’s almost like he’s the lefthanded version of Freddy Garcia, though obviously that’s doing a bit of a disservice to Buehrle, who’s been one of the more consistently excellent and reliable pitchers in the American League during the last 10-plus seasons (42.4 fWAR during that time period, second only to Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia). Colon has of course been one of the bigger surprises for the Yankees in the early going, and will look to continue his magic carpet ride against the ChiSox.

And in the finale, CC Sabathia (2.73 ERA/3.02 FIP/3.18 xFIP) takes on Edwin Jackson (4.88 ERA/3.11 FIP/3.40 xFIP), who seems to be continuing his enigmatic career-long path of alternating nigh-unhittable starts with mediocre ones. If Jackson is on this could be one heck of a battle, although the smart money says Sabathia takes care of business at home.

Here are the two teams’ offense and pitching numbers:

I’ve basically already discussed the Chicago pitching staff, but it’s pretty interesting to see how close both teams’ numbers are both starting- and bullpen-wise.

The offense is the real eye-opener here, as it seems quite strange to see Chicago entering a series mustering only a collective .303 wOBA. This is primarily due to the fact that only two hitters are hitting — the crazy-hot Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko. Other than that, you’ve got a lineup where seven regulars have wOBAs of .301 or less — clearly that’s not going to last, but let’s hope the Chicago offense waits a little while longer before finding its stroke.

17 thoughts on “Game Thread and Series Preview: Yankees vs. White Sox I

  1. nyyankeefanforever

    Great preview, Larry! Thanks for the hard work. Just wish your little joke about Humber no-hitting us wasn’t quite so prescient. End of the 6th now and it’s all too real. Sure hope our boys don’t waste AJ’s best outing of the year.

  2. Joe

    Was just going to comment on the no hitter situation… I read the preview earlier tonight and shook my head because I knew it were possible, the yanks can’t hit anybody they have never seen.

    • Ha; that was a close one. Glad A-Rod saved us from embarrassment.

      • nyyankeefanforever

        Unfortunately, it’s still pretty embarrassing if the worst AL Team’s #5 pitcher shuts us out at home.

        Thank goodness AJ’s going deep tonight. Joe G’s hasty yank of Garcia yesterday pretty much burned up our pen for tonight.

        • Peter Lacock

          You say hasty, I call it cautious and at this point in the season I also call it smart.
          Is it Girardi’s fault that Mo blew the save and Soriano had a sore back?

          • nyyankeefanforever

            Garcia isn’t a reclamation project like Colon. He started 28 games last year and pitched 157 innings. He’s stretched and healthy and he was cruising. I know it seems like I’m using 20-20 hindsight, but I was mad as hell when he did it because he can never resist an opportunity to pull out his clipboard and play bullpen bingo. It’s been our downfall before and I’d hoped this season he might resist the urge to do so a bit less often simply because he can.

          • nyyankeefanforever

            And yes, I believe it was his fault Mo blew the save because Mo should never have been brought in before the ninth, not ever. Especially since Soriano never even warmed up, which means they already knew he couldn’t go that night and so that’s just all the more reason not to pull Garcia after just six when he’s cruising.

  3. oldpep

    Two things-
    Jeter has looked really bad for a lot of ABs over the past 14 months

    The strike zone has gotten much larger-strikes called in the other batter’s box, etc. Larger K zone = less scoring = lower attendance.

  4. mryankee

    that sucked what a pathetic lac
    k of effort cant wait for the nova
    123 4 inning display
    i want those wasted three hrs back

    • Peter Lacock

      I give the credit to the winners.
      AJ had a great performance.
      It was an entertaining game.

      • nyyankeefanforever

        You’re right about that, Peter. Except for the bloop single behind the mound that led to the second run and the final score, it was indeed riveting seeing both pitchers at the tops of their games and the respective defenses busting buns to back them up.

  5. Duh, Innings!

    The Yankees should’ve given Jeter just one year. He erased his 4 for 5 against the Orioles yesterday with his total hasbeen performance tonight. He is the tri-goat tonight. Him, his buddy Posada who needs to be benched in favor of Eric Chavez, and Gardner who needs to be benched in favor of Andruw Jones.

    Could Jeter at least hit the ball with authority, not tap out? Michael Kay said Jeter couldn’t get the popup because Jeter was on the lip of the grass. Yeah, he has no range so he has to play that far back to get a groundball!

    The 2011 Yankees are a fraud so far. They’re a .500 team against good teams (the Chi-Sox are one of them who just happen to be in a bad stretch) and are 12-7 only because of the Orioles. What annoys me about this Yankee team is they’re the team other teams break their losing streaks or stretches against. 0-6 Red Sox, 1-6 after facing the Yankees. 1-10 in their last 11 Chi-Sox, now 2-10. In these teams’ minds they’re 1-0, to hell with the pas. It has to stop!!!

    This is the third game the Yankees have pissed away a good or better outing by their starting pitcher (two by Sabathia and tonight) and that has to stop, too!!!

    • Peter Lacock

      I disagree with everything you said there.
      12-7 only because of the Orioles? How many times have they played?

  6. bornwithpinstripes

    why do teams throw fastballs to posada..just throw curves and he goes back to the bench..gardner needs to sit…can not carry four dead bats..swish gardner jeter posada..the other guys are going to press..joe must sit at least two of those four..

    • Peter Lacock

      I disagree with everything you said there.
      Posada has a bunch of HR’s and would adapt to and welcome your approach.
      Swish is still getting on base and I betcha a million bucks he picks up his current pace.
      Gardner’s D is just as important as his bat.
      Jeter just had a 4 hit day and has paid his dues.

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