Yankees face a pair of potential playoff opponents this week

This week the Yankees are squaring off with the rising Angels for a three game set in Anaheim, followed by an off day on Thursday, and then a visit to the Motor City for a weekend set against the Tigers.

Against the Angels, The Bronx Bombers will throw out Andy Pettitte on Tuesday and Ivan Nova on Wednesday.  The Tigers series this weekend will likely include CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Phil Hughes.

The Yankees came into Monday night’s game with the Angels riding a five game winning streak.  It appeared it would continue as they posted a three-run first inning after started Jared Weaver left with an injury after facing only two batters.  However, the game ended with a punch-to-the-gut bottom of the ninth walk-off loss.

Anaheim is hot right now; winners of their last seven.  Leading the way is the freshly combustible Albert Pujols.  In his last 63 plate appearances, King Albert has a wOBA of .447 and is hitting .321.  He’s also mashed six home runs and holding down a .357 ISO in the last 14 games.  The highly touted duo of Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout are also on a hot streak the past couple of weeks with wOBA over .400.  Trumbo is hitting .339 in 62 plate appearances and leads the team with 20 hits over the past two weeks.  Trout is one behind him with 19 hits and has also swiped six bases in 64 plate appearances.  Both players are slugging over .530 as well.  The only hitter on the team that is really struggling right now is Howie Kendrick.  He’s hitting .220 with a miserable .263 OBP (.193 wOBA).  Oddly enough his second on the team with nine RBIs, so when he is getting a hit, he’s doing it at the right time.

After briefly facing Weaver last night, the Yankees will have to deal with a struggling (but effective) Dan Haren and a stabilized Ervin Santana.  In his last five starts, Haren is 1-4 with a 4.18 ERA.  His FIP stands at 3.34 so he’s been pitching decent, but has experienced some bad breaks.  His last outing was against Seattle on 24 May that resulted in a complete game shutout.  He fanned 14 batters and gave up four hits with no walks.  He had previously lost his last four starts.  Ervin Santana has faired a little better in his last six starts going 2-2 with a 2.85 ERA (3.93 FIP), which leads all Angel starters.  Santana’s last two starts (Seattle and San Diego) were no-decisions and he never made it past the sixth inning.  He’s also giving up just over 4 BB/9 through 41 innings.

The Bombers could have their hands full with a team hitting a hot streak and two proven pitchers due for strong outings against our inconsistent offense.

The Yankees then open the month of June in Detroit against the currently under-achieving Tigers.  Offensively, they rank near the bottom of every major category in baseball.  Far and away Prince Fielder is trying to carry the team with his .462 wOBA.  Prince is hitting .412 with just two home runs and ten RBIs in 58 plate appearances.  Miguel Cabrera (.308 BA/.378 wOBA) leads the the team with 11 RBIs in 59 plate appearances.  Delmon Young (.357 wOBA) and Brennan Boesch (.381 wOBA) are making decent contributions over the last 13 games as well.  Alex Avila is struggling at the plate in his last 45 plate appearances with just one home run while hitting a measly .237.  Andy Dirks is also struggling to get quality at-bats striking out nearly 20 percent versus a 5 percent walk rate in 61 plate appearances.

As it stands now, The Yanks will see Rick Porcello on Friday, Doug Fister on Saturday, and likely Justin Verlander for the potential rubber match.  Porcello and Fister have been less than stellar in their past several starts; both with FIPs at 4.01.  In 34.2 innnings, Porcello is 2-2 with a 4.41 ERA.  The Tigers have not gotten more than six innings out of him since May 5th against the White Sox.  Fister has not faired much better in his last five starts.  He’s 0-3 since coming off the disabled list and got shelled his last time out versus Boston.  Through five innings he allowed 11 hits and six earned runs.  His best outing this year was against Oakland when he fanned eight batters and allowed five hits and one earned run through six innings.  And what can you say about Justin Verlander?  If the Yankees are unlucky enough to face him, they will have to deal with the fact that in his last five starts, he has a sub-two ERA (2.21 FIP), a nine-to-one K/BB ratio and a 0.47 HR/9 rate.  The only solice the Bombers may have in facing him is they tagged him for seven hits and four earned runs (two homers) in their last meeting with him that resulted in a no-decision.

The Yankees are going to have to try to sneak past the waking giant that is the Anaheim Angels and manage to quickly wrangle the dozing Tigers if they want to keep pace with the AL East leaders.

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One Response to Yankees face a pair of potential playoff opponents this week

  1. Mark Panuthos says:

    great stuff Michael. I didn't get too excited about winning consecutive series against the Royals and Athletics. Against the Angels and Tigers, we'll see where we're at. The Yankees always hit Verlander pretty well, and after Weaver, I'm not too concerned with the Angels pitching. Plus, their streak has to end sometime. On the other hand, I have a really bad feeling about Kuroda and Hughes.

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