This week in Yankees baseball

The reality is that the Yankees simply need to win to get in. Unlike season’s past, the wild card is not a good option. The Yankees have to win the division. And that means seriously beating up on these weak teams to finish off the season. It starts tonight in Minnesota. The ballpark up there is good for the Yankees’ pitchers but bad for the Yankees’ batters. It’s tough to hit a homer there. And tonight will bring the second start for Andy Pettitte. Pettitte can neutralize Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau to a degree and also the lefty swinging Denard Span and Ryan Doumit. Pettitte will need to be extra careful with Josh Willingham, who has had a terrific offensive season.

The Twins will pitch Liam Hendriks tonight. Hendriks won his first game of his career in his last outing. It took him eighteen career starts to get there. His career ERA is just below six and he only strikes out five and a half batters per nine. You would like to think the Yankees should win tonight’s game.

Tomorrow, it will be Phil Hughes against Esmerling Vasquez. Vasquez has made four starts this season and averages five innings per start with a 1.700 WHIP. He has walked 6.8 batters per nine innings while striking out only 3.6. Hughes has only one career start in Target Field and it went really, really well. On paper, at least, this again looks like the Yankees should win the game.

The series with the Twins concludes on Wednesday with C.C. Sabathia fresh off his dominating appearance in his last start against Sam Deduno. Deduno has a winning record of, 6-5, and at least has an ERA under five. He is stingy in allowing hits but walks 5.9 batters per nine and strikes out only 6.4 batters per nine. He got rocked in his last start against the Tigers. You have to again like the Yankees’ chances in that game.

On Thursday, the Yankees will travel to Toronto to play the Blue Jays. They will face the Blue Jays’ best pitcher in Brandon Morrow, who traditionally struggles a bit in his home park. The Yankees have not yet listed their rotation for the Blue Jays series. But if it stayed true to form, Ivan Nova would be in line for this start. It will be interesting to see if Nova does get the start or if Girardi goes with another option. This Thursday match up against the Blue Jays looks like the first game this week that does not favor the Yankees.

Friday should be Hiroki Kuroda‘s start and the Blue Jays plan to start Chad Jenkins, who did well against the Rays in his last outing, but otherwise is not overly burdensome.

As someone who predicts the outcome of baseball games every day on my home site, the only game I would hesitate in picking the Yankees to win would be Thursday. Otherwise, they really should win all of these games. But will they? We’ll just have to find out together. The Yankees find themselves in the driver’s seat with a very favorable remaining schedule. Now all they have to do is win the games.

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

7 thoughts on “This week in Yankees baseball

  1. boni

    I'm not a fan of the new playoff format at all. I'm one of those who feels that the playoffs should be more exclusive and that exclusivity is one of baseball's unique charms. However, I must admit that the end of the season has been much more dramatic in the AL east because of it. I'm also someone who had been previously non-plused on the topic of Mark Reynolds, major league batsman. Damn those dirty birds!

  2. ProfRobert

    William, as a fellow gray-beard, is this starting to remind you of the end of the '78 season, when the Yankees had finally taken a one-game lead over the Red Sox? Through something like the last week or so of the season, both teams kept winning to keep the margin at one, until the last day of the season when the Yankees lost and Boston won, forcing the playoffs. Here, it's the Yankees that have given up the big lead, but at least they are still one in front. What a nail-biter — Magic Number is 10.

    • williamjtasker

      It does call to mind that season. And it is indeed a nail biter.

      • Anybody know whether Bucky Dent is available to pinch hit?

        • williamjtasker

          I don't know, but even now, he's be the better fielding shortstop. Heh. (waiting for those that think that was a Jeter bash. Hint: it wasn't.)

        • ProfRobert

          Or Jim Mason! Hey, the guy is tied for highest career slugging percentage in World Series games.

  3. jay_robertson

    Thanks, Larry – just what I did NOT need, was a bit of rationality.

    I much prefer Will's fuzzy logic – as long as I don't engage my brain, its perfectly reasonable that we sweep the remainder of our games.

    Then again, the Iowa Hawkeyes were two td favorites over Central Michigan last Saturday; CM won.

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