Friday, April 13: Yankees (Kuroda) vs. Angels (Santana), (1:05 PM EST, YES)
The Angels will start Ervin Santana this afternoon in the Bronx, and his career numbers against the Yankees are not fantastic. Last year, he went 0-2 with a 5.54 ERA in 13 innings in two starts against the bombers, allowing four home runs in the process. Santana is a fantastic pitcher to watch when he’s on; but he can be pretty catastrophic when he’s off. It should be interesting to watch how his team responds after dropping two highly winnable games in two days.
In optimistic news, Robinson Cano is 11-for-32 (.344) with two home runs against Santana, while Derek Jeter has crushed the Angels’ hurler to a tune of a .447 average (17-for-38).
Albert Pujols has only batted 21 times against the Yankees, with two homers and three RBI’s; he’s 3-for-15 lifetime against tonight’s starter Hiroki Kuroda, with one home run. Kuroda hasn’t been sharp this season (well, in his one start this season), and he’ll be looking to rebound tonight. It’s worth watching to see if Kuroda gives up an inordinate number of home runs to right in his starts at Yankee Stadium (as some have suggested he will)–for what it’s worth, I think he’ll be able to correct for some of those tendencies with his location.
Saturday, April 14th: Yankees (Hughes) vs. Angels (Wilson), (1:05 PM EST, YES)
Now this should get interesting: Phil Hughes will be looking to bounce back from a rough first outing against Tampa Bay, while CJ Wilson will make his first start in the Bronx as a member of the Angels. Wilson threw seven innings of one run, three hit ball–while picking up his first Angels win–against the Twins last week, dominating a team that has suffered from a series of crippling injuries to their best players. (I forgive you in advance for skipping the next couple sentences, as they have little to do with the Yankees) Listen, I like CJ Wilson–he seems like a pretty standup guy, and is a pretty good pitcher–but I’m not convinced that he will be able to completely replicate his immensely successful 2011. It’s worth noting that his FIP (3.24), xFIP (3.41), SIERA (3.25) and tERA (4.65) are all higher (some significantly) than his ERA (2.94); at the same time, his K/9 increased, his BB/9 decreased, while his BABIP, HR/FB, and GB% all stayed pretty much the same–so there is some reason to be optimistic. He’s a good pitcher; but he’s not a below-3.00 ERA pitcher.
Aaand we’re back: Phil Hughes is going to have to show us something over the next couple weeks to prove that he deserves to remain in the rotation when Pineda and Pettitte are ready. I’m all for getting rid of Freddy Garcia to make room for one of them…but if they both come back, and Nova is still throwing like he did in Baltimore, well Philthy Phil might be on a short leash. And, in case you were wondering, I’ve decided to adopt the moniker “Captain Obvious” today.
And while I’m telling you what you already know, it should be worth noting that the Yankees beat the Angels in their season series in 2011 5-4, the first time since 2003 that the bombers managed to take down the halos over the course of a season.
Sunday, April 15th: Yankees (Nova) vs. Angels (Williams), (8:00 PM EST, ESPN)
I don’t know very much about Jerome Williams, the Angels’ prospective starter on Sunday. What I’ve been able to find in my extensive research (Google!) is that he’s a veteran journeyman, who has spent much of his career in AAA, and has bounced around to a lot of teams. He has a career 4.20 ERA, 4.69 FIP and 5.48 K/9 rate; he has played for the Giants, Dodgers, Nationals, Twins, Cubs, A’s and now the Angels…but he only played in the majors for the Giants, Cubs, Nats and Angels.
Basically, he’s a replacement level pitcher. Which might be enough, considering the Angels’ offense.
The Yankees will start Ivan Nova, who showed that Spring Training stats actually don’t matter–you know, what we were saying all Spring about Pineda before it turned out that there actually was something to worry about. If Nova can locate his fastball, keep his sinker down, and keep the Angels from sitting on his fastball up, then he should be fine; and the Yankees’ bats should be able to produce something against Jerome Williams.