Monday, April 16
Yankees (Garcia) vs. Twins (Pavano); 7:00 EST on ESPN.
Do you even need to hear the numbers to remember how dominant the Yankees are against Minnesota? And when you combine that long history with the fact that tonight’s starter is Carl Pavano (yeah, that guy), do you really need to know? OK, fine, here are some numbers: Derek Jeter is .400 against Pavano in the regular season, and hit .355 in last year’s season series. Mark Teixeira helped guide the bombers to a 6-2 season win over the Twins by batting .346 with three home runs and nine RBIs–could be a good chance for Tex to shake off some of the rust (we know he doesn’t thaw out completely until mid-May). Pavano has been about as good as you’d expect from Carl Pavano so far this year: he’s 0-1 with a 5.93 ERA in two starts, and hasn’t been able to afford his meager offense the time to even try to make a run in his starts.
On the other side of the coin (or whatever metaphor you choose), Joe Mauer has .419 lifetime average against starter Feddy Garcia, whose numbers look pretty similar to Mr. Disgusting Goatee this season: 0-0 with a 5.79 ERA after one start. Alright, that’s a little harsh–no reason to pick on Freddy like that, he’s way better than Carl Pavano. (And I don’t need some fancy-shmacy numbers chart to tell me otherwise).
For what it’s worth, both Mauer and Morneau will play in the series, though neither of them are playing well right now–in nine games, Morneau is hitting .207 with one home run, and Mauer is .242 with one bomb.
Tuesday, April 17
Yankees (Sabathia) vs. Twins (Liriano); 7:05 PM EST on YES.
Francisco Liriano has been bad for the past year. And I’m saying that despite the fact that he threw a no-hitter last season–it came completely out of the blue, and was one of the ugliest no-hitters possible. His K/9 plummeted to 7.50, his BB/9 shot up to 5.02, his GB% dropped, and he went from allowing only 0.42 home runs per nine innings to allowing nearly one per game. His ERA ballooned to 5.09, and while the advanced ERA estimators liked him slightly more, they still thought he was replacement-level at best, as he 4.54 FIP, a 4.52 xFIP, a 4.53 SIERA, and a 4.35 tERA–basically, he was closer to a 4.50 ERA pitcher than a 5.00 ERA pitcher…but that’s not something to brag to your friends about.
Still, there’s something intriguing about Liriano, something that I just can’t seem to get over. Maybe I still think of him as that electric guy who dominated in 2010 with a 2.66 FIP (almost a point lower than his ERA!), and had a strikeout rate close to ten. Maybe it’s that he seemed to have figured things out this spring. Maybe it’s that I keep scooping him up in fantasy, only to see him ruin my WHIP and ERA categories. Who knows?
Wednesday, April 18
Yankees (Kuroda) vs. Twins (Marquis); 7:05 PM EST on YES.
There’s not much to say about Jason Marquis. I’ll sum him up to you this way: he doesn’t strike people out, he walks a few too many batters, he’s a slight ground ball pitcher (50.4% career rate), and his career FIP–and other ERA estimators–suggests that he’s closer to a 5.00 ERA pitcher than his 4.55 career ERA might indicate. He has bounced around leagues for a few years now, never stopping for more than four season with one club. He landed on the Twins last season, after a trade from the Washington Nationals; he had a 4.43 ERA, and a 4.05 FIP in 23 games.
Hiroki Kuroda is better than Jason Marquis.
Thursday, April 19
Yankees (Hughes) vs. Twins (Blackburn); 7:05 PM EST on YES.
Nick Blackburn has eerily similar numbers to Jason Marquis. They both sit around 4.50 for a career ERA (Blackburn is at 4.52), and their peripherals suggest mediocre pitchers without tons of command. Neither strike out enough batters (both sit around 5 K/9), both walk too many compared to their strikeout reates (both are around 3 BB/9), they both give up too many home runs (Blackburn gives up at least 1 HR/9), and they both sit around 50% for a career GB%.
Now that’s not a totally fair perspective on Blackburn: his 2011 saw him increase his GB% to 53.5%, and get a little unlucky, with a .317 BABIP against, and a 14.1% HR/FB rate (higher than his career 11%). But his FIP was still 4.84, which is not indicative of a strong pitching performance, no matter how slightly unlucky he got.
Oh, and these last couple of paragraphs might be moot, because Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had to remove Blackburn from his last start after 5 and one-third innigs because of “shoulder stiffness.” Thankfully, his MRIs came back negative.