- Game 1 Ivan Nova (7-2) Randall Delgado (4-5)
- Game 2 CC Sabathia (7-3) Mike Minor (3-4)
- Game 3 Hiroki Kuroda (5-6) Tim Hudson (4-2)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Things to Watch
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.
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.
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.