Last week, I predicted this little-engine-that-could New York Yankees' team would go 3-3 and figured that was a reasonable expectation. I was way off base as the team finished the week 5-1 with five straight wins after opening the week with a loss. I also noted that Vernon Wells' Cinderella story was turning back into a pumpkin. But somebody kept the clock from reaching midnight as Wells again became the carriage that carried the Yankees this week. He hit two homers in the five games with five ribbies and only struck out once all week. Of course, he did not walk all week either, but why quibble. Wells also made a couple of great plays in the outfield.
Lyle Overbay had a very good week with two doubles and a homer for an OPS in the last five games of .929. And my perennial punching bag, Jayson Nix, had a great week and finished the week with an OPS over one. But the real story this week was the pitching, which featured good outings from the entire rotation except for Phil Hughes and the Yankees still won his game. The Yankees allowed only seven runs in the four non-Hughes games. The bullpen was solid and Mariano Rivera picked up four saves this week. He did not look dominant in doing so, but again, the job got done.
So what happens this week? The Yankees play a troublesome double-header in Cleveland to make up two postponements there. But then they travel home to play Seattle and Toronto for six games at home. At some point this week, Curtis Granderson will be back and that will be a welcomed sight, though it will be interesting to see what Joe Girardi does with his outfield. So, here is a preview of the week to come in Yankees baseball.
It was really unfortunate that the Yankees were rained out of those two games in Cleveland earlier in the season. At the time, the Indians were really struggling and their starting pitching was getting bombed. Since then, the Indians have come on strong and finished a very successful weekend against the Tigers. The Indians' lineup is clicking better and its rotation has been at least a little more serviceable. Anything can happen in this double-header.
David Phelps gets the start in the first game against Justin Masterson. Masterson has either been great in his starts, or terrible. He has no in between. If he is great today, then the Yankees will pound the ball into the ground and strike out profusely. Phelps went beyond expectations in Colorado and that gives a little more comfort pitching against the Indians in a little more fair ballpark for pitchers.
The second game gives Vidal Nuno a start and everyone has been dying to see him pitch. The Indians counter with Trevor Bauer, whose real weakness is his control. He has more walks than innings pitched this season. But one thing this Yankees' current lineup is not is patient. With the exceptions of Nix and Travis Hafner, this is a swinging team. Can they be patient enough to wait out Bauer? If the bullpen has to put in a lot of innings, what will happen there? Is Mo even available today?
I would take a split of this Monday duet.
The Yankees will don the pinstripes starting Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners, a team they should beat regularly. But they face the two great Seattle pitchers in Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Frankly, I am more worried about Iwakuma who has really been terrific. Of course, King Felix seems to make the Yankees his favorite whipping boys and loves beating them like no other team. The good news is that he is faced by C.C. Sabathia and if the big guy can match Hernandez, then it becomes a bullpen game and I will take those chances.
Hisashi Iwakuma has been unbelievable. His strikeout to walk ratio is over five. His WHIP is 0.74. His ERA is 1.74 and opponents are hitting .167 against him. Wow! Phil Hughes will need to keep the Mariners in the ballpark and again match Iwakuma zero for zero to make it a bullpen game.
I feel a lot better about Thursday's game with Andy Pettitte--who was much better in his last outing--against Aaron Harang, a meatball pitcher the Yankees should tee off on. Of course, "Should" is always the operative word.
The Yankees would be fortunate with a 2-1 series win against the Mariners.
The week finishes against the Toronto Blue Jays, a team the Yankees swept last time. The Blue Jays have been a little better since then, winning five of their last eight including two of three from the Red Sox this past weekend. The key against them is to keep Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in the ballpark, something the Red Sox could not do yesterday.
The pitchers have not been announced for that weekend. But it should be Kuroda, Phelps and Sabathia for the Yankees and Mark Buehrle on Friday and who knows after that. R.A. Dickey will probably pitch Sunday. That leaves Saturday as the only obvious question. A sweep would be great in this series, but a 2-1 series win will do too.
So, if i do my math correctly, I predict a 5-3 week. That is a lot of games to play in a short period of time and the bullpen is a worry in such a scenario. It will be great to see Curtis Granderson back but you have to wonder who sits when he returns. And will the Yankees do the right thing and put Granderson in a corner and keep Brett Gardner in center? We will see, right?
Have a great Yankees week, everybody.