Braves – Yankees Series Preview

The Braves (34-26) hope to regain their interrupted momentum on Monday when they host the Yankees (34-25) in the first of a three game set. The probable pitching matchups are:

Ivan Nova

Nova has been on a roll, winning his last three game including an eight inning four hit outing against Tampa Bay. Nova must have a winning personality because when he pitches the Yankees seem to score early runs when he pitches averaging 6.1 a game.

Nova is a four pitch pitcher who uses a mid nineties four-seamer that can touch 97 about 55% of the time, a slider about 16% of the time that runs 87-90, a circle change he uses sparingly, and a classic 12-6 hammer curve that arrives at about 82 mph that he uses 25% of the time. He likes to use the hammer against left handed hitters in particular so if it’s working look for buckled knees if it hangs watch the outfielders run.

He gets a first strikeover about 60e% of the time. He’s been allowing more fly balls this year and his ERA has gone up a bit and as you might suspect so has his WHIP. But with run support averaging over 6 runs a game he’s been very successful. This is the first look at Nova for all of the Braves hitters which is usually not a good sign.

Randall Delgado

I won’t bore you with Delgado’s numbers. His last three outings have been progressively better culminating in 6 1/3 inning win over the Marlins last week. Delgado must envy Nova’s run support as the Braves provide him only 3.4 runs a game. The Only Yankee to have faced Delgado is Raul Ibanez  who was hitless in two at bats.

CC Sabathia

Most of us will know CC pretty well from his time with the Brewers. Some of us know him better than we’d like. Brian McCann for one is not glad to see the big man come to town.

“I’m glad (Sabathia) is in the American League. I faced him one time and didn’t see one pitch he threw.

CC is of course the definition of a Stud. The big man’s thrown over 235 innings every year since 2007. His ERA (3.69) is up at bit this year but it is early an dhis WHIP (1.23) is right where it was in 2011.  He’s a fastball (40%), slider (32%), sinker (15%) guy who pounds the zone and has a 62% first strike rate. The Yankees score runs for CC as well averaging just under 6 runs a game. Seven current Braves have faced CC and as a whole are hitting .240 with two home runs and four RBI. You’ll recall BMac has no interest in seeing CC but David Ross doesn’t mind him as much. Both home runs by Braves came off the bat of Ross. Here’s the numbers for everyone.

 

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Jack Wilson 21 3 0 0 0 0 3 2 .143 .250 .143 .393
David Ross 10 2 0 0 2 3 2 3 .200 .308 .800 1.108
Matt Diaz 9 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 .556 .600 .556 1.156
Brian McCann 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Martin Prado 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Eric Hinske 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Dan Uggla 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000
Total 50 12 0 0 2 4 6 9 .240 .322 .360 .682
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool UsedGenerated 6/10/2012.

Mike Minor

Minor’s last few outings have not been his best. After starting the year strong and having a very good April  May turned to mush with his ERA rising from 4.68 to 6.98 and his WHIP moving from 1.134 in his five  April starts to 1.881 in his last six starts. He’s pitched six innings only once  since May first. Only Raul Ibanez has faced Minor going 1-3 with a double.  Minor will have to find his best stuff on Tuesday to hold this potent lineup in check.

Hiroki Kuroda

Kuroda was the winning pitcher in the Yankee demolition of Johan Santana and the Mets last week. He left in the seventh after being hit on the foot but says his foot feels good now. He’s pitched very well in his last three outings going seven innings twice and eight innings once and allowing only two runs. Kuroda’s 3.46 ERA and 1.25 WHIP  further support the idea that the Yankees did well signing him in January.

Kuroda is a sinker (38%), slider (25%), split finger (14%) pitcher and as you might guess has a 49% groundball rate meaning the outfielders on both teams are going to be relatively unemployed if he and Hudson are on their game.

Ask about Kuroda Chipper Jones said, “I don’t know (Kuroda) real well, but I know I hated facing him in Dodger Stadium. He has a very deceptive fastball, a great split. I think he was a good pickup for the Yankees. He’ll eat up a lot of innings in their rotation.”

Here’s how Braves hitters have fared against Kuroda in the past.

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Michael Bourn 18 4 1 0 0 1 0 1 .222 .222 .278 .500
Dan Uggla 17 4 1 0 0 0 1 6 .235 .278 .294 .572
Brian McCann 10 1 0 0 0 0 2 1 .100 .250 .100 .350
Jason Heyward 8 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .111 .000 .111
Martin Prado 8 3 1 0 1 1 0 0 .375 .375 .875 1.250
Eric Hinske 4 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 .250 .500 .250 .750
Freddie Freeman 2 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 .500 .667 2.000 2.667
Total 75 14 3 0 2 3 7 14 .187 .256 .307 .563
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool UsedGenerated 6/10/2012.

Tim Hudson

What can we say about Huddy. His Sunday start skipped because of bones spurs in his ankles. You might have noticed late in his complete game whipping of the Marlins that he ran to first base a little oddly in the 8th inning; that was the bone spurs biting him. He had a cortisone shot on Friday and late Sunday was confirmed as the Wednesday’s starter. Here’s a look at how current Yankees have fared when facing Huddy so far.

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Raul Ibanez 61 18 6 0 1 7 4 8 .295 .348 .443 .791
Alex Rodriguez 39 14 2 0 3 8 3 7 .359 .405 .641 1.046
Derek Jeter 33 10 2 0 0 3 2 3 .303 .343 .364 .706
Mark Teixeira 15 4 2 0 1 2 6 4 .267 .476 .600 1.076
Russell Martin 10 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 .100 .182 .100 .282
Dewayne Wise 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 .143 .143 .286 .429
Andruw Jones 5 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 .200 .333 .200 .533
Andy Pettitte 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 1.000 1.500
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool UsedGenerated 6/10/2012.

Things to Watch

I joined Ricky Keeler over at What’s Brewin Sports on his Sunday podcast to discuss the up coming series. You can hear the full podcast here or listen to my part of it here. In the end we split over who will take the series. We covered a lot of ground, too much to repeat here but it was nice to know that they worry about Sabathia walking batters early and getting behind, don’t think Nova’s quite as good as his numbers and believe Robinson Cano loses his strike zone when he gets into a slump and swings at anything. Cano’s line before Sunday’s game was .293/.348/.533 with 11 homers and 29 RBI. The Yankees will have to pay dearly to keep him, and they will.

Our old pal Andruw Jones is doing well as a role player for the Yanks but has lost time because Ibanez is having such a surprisingly good year. Andruw Jones is a big part of the Yankees patched up outfield – Brett Gardiner won’t be back before the break-  with six homers and 13 RBI. 

Derek Jeter must have found the fountain of youth for he is playing as well as ever. His line before Sunday’s game was .314/.367/.430 with six homers and 20 RBI. He’s the heartbeat of the Yankees, when he plays well they play well.The Yankees have nine players in double digit RBI territory and five with 29 or more. That’s my way of saying top to bottom these bats can hurt you.

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Russell Martin 144 15 30 8 0 6 17 1 0 24 31 .208 .345 .389 .734 97
Mark Teixeira 206 30 51 13 0 11 35 1 1 21 29 .248 .322 .471 .793 110
Robinson Cano* 229 40 67 20 1 11 29 1 0 19 33 .293 .348 .533 .881 132
Derek Jeter 242 31 76 10 0 6 20 5 1 20 31 .314 .367 .430 .797 114
Alex Rodriguez 213 32 59 5 0 9 24 6 0 26 52 .277 .368 .427 .796 113
Raul Ibanez* 160 18 41 9 1 9 30 2 0 11 18 .256 .309 .494 .802 111
Curtis Granderson* 227 42 56 7 1 18 34 3 3 32 67 .247 .342 .524 .867 129
Nick Swisher 194 24 49 16 0 9 37 1 0 17 47 .253 .313 .474 .788 108
Andruw Jones 79 9 19 2 0 6 13 0 0 11 28 .241 .330 .494 .823 117
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original TableGenerated 6/10/2012.
The Braves bats are have nine guys in double digits as well but one of them (Tyler Pastornicky) is now at Gwinnett.
Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2B Dan Uggla 213 45 57 13 0 11 41 0 2 41 66 .268 .388 .484 .871
1B Freddie Freeman* 205 33 53 13 1 8 37 0 0 15 54 .259 .305 .449 .754
RF Jason Heyward* 200 30 49 9 3 8 29 10 3 23 55 .245 .329 .440 .769
C Brian McCann* 167 19 40 5 0 7 28 1 0 21 20 .240 .323 .395 .718
LF Martin Prado 227 37 73 17 3 4 25 7 1 24 26 .322 .388 .476 .864
3B Chipper Jones# 104 19 31 3 0 5 24 0 0 13 12 .298 .373 .471 .844
CF Michael Bourn* 256 43 82 14 3 6 20 16 7 21 48 .320 .372 .469 .841
3B Juan Francisco* 94 8 22 5 0 5 16 0 1 3 30 .234 .255 .447 .702
SS Tyler Pastornicky 145 17 36 6 1 1 12 2 0 6 27 .248 .281 .324 .605
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original TableGenerated 6/11/2012.

Braves starters will have to establish their zone early and keep the ball in the park against this lineup. The Yankees will grind a pitcher with a shaky zone down by taking a lot of pitches and forcing errors. Minor in particular will have to be sharp or he may not last three innings.

Ricky predicted the Yanks would take the last two games and the series.

I said the Braves would take the first and last game to win the series.

We agreed that:

  • Monday night’s game could be very interesting if both pitchers are at their best and
  • That even Minor is at his best Sabathia presents a big challenge Tuesday and
  • That the outfielders might want to rent a movie when Huddy and Kuroda go Wednesday night while the infielders might want an extra bottle of their favorite energy drink. Or it could be 15-14 with both starters gone early; that’s baseball.

I think the series will be a great one to watch with both teams at the top in runs scored and players worth watching always at the plate.

Breaking News

Okay by the time you read this probably not but on Sunday the Braves

  • Agreed to terms with second rounder Alex Wood for $700K.
  • Returned Julio Teheran back to Gwinnet
  • Recalled reliever Cory Gearrin to take his spot in the pen.

As I post this Jorge Soler hasn’t signed but as I hinted last night on Twitter the Yankees now seem to be front runner for the 20 year-old Cuban outfielder. CBS news is reporting that the Yanks are making a “strong push” for him and say a $20 million deal is in the works. I read last night that he could get as much as four years – 36 – 40 million so I’m not sure where CBS gets the $20m amount. Where he lands will be interesting as he’s the last big money international amateur I’m aware of. Next July a $2.5m limit goes into effect on those signings. That limit in an odd kind of way favors the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers as the best known baseball brands outside the US, Canada and Mexico. If the money’s the same the name might well be enough to influence the payer to sign there just because he can say I was once signed by. . .

That’s A Wrap

The Braves are back within spitting distance of the division leading Nats and in a marathon being that close is good enough one-third of the way through. I keep hoping Fredi Gonzalez will improve his handling of the bullpen but fear that’s lost cause. After all, Bobby managed 20 years and never quite got the hang of it. I’m looking for a good series so that when I repeat my appearance on Rick’s podcast on Sunday I have lots of great things to say and don’t have to swallow too much crow. If you have questions you want me to put to Rick about the Yankees and the series let me know prior to Sunday. I know what I’ll ask him – well  in general terms – but really do want your input so I can get the information you want as well. Comment here or tweet me @fredeowens and help me out.  Okay let’s get this posted before it’s outdated.

Tags: CC Sabathia Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Mike Minor Randall Delgado Tim Hudson Yankees

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