The Red Sox celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first game at Fenway Park with the opener of a three-game series against their long-time rival, the New York Yankees. The Yankees haven’t really had quality starting pitching yet this year, but watch out when they get it.
Ivan Nova (facing Clay Buchholz on Friday afternoon) had success in 2011 by getting ground balls (52.7% GB rate) and limiting the long ball (0.71 HR/9). It’s a simple formula but it’s usually successful. Especially with the short porch in left field at the New New Yankee Stadium, for a rookie righty to have such rates without great success in the traditional counting stats (98/57 K/BB in 165.1 innings) is still successful in my book. His 2011 BABIP of .283 indicates a little bit of luck but not so much that Nova’s 2011 could be considered a statistical fluke.
I’m still trying to figure out how Freddy Garcia (versus Felix Doubront on Saturday afternoon) had any success in 2011. A 36.4% GB rate. 152 hits against 96 Ks in 146.2 innings. A poor 4.42 SIERA and a below average 4.86 tERA (true runs allowed). His FIP was a half a run higher than his ERA, so he should have done worse than he did. There’s only one explanation for any success Garcia had in 2011: he only walked 45 batters in those 146.2 innings, so he didn’t make things worse by putting extra batters on base. That’s all I got.
CC Sabathia (against Daniel Bard on Sunday night) was everything you want in an ace in 2011. 237.1 innings pitched. A 230/61 (3.77) K/BB. A 7.1 fWAR (ranking 2nd for all MLB pitchers). And to top it all off, he had a .318 BABIP and a 2.88 FIP against a 3.00 ERA, so he was slightly unlucky. The only knock against CC in 2011 was that his WHIP was 1.23, which was his highest since 2005, and batters hit .251 against him. Other than that, a stellar year for Sabathia.
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
Derek Jeter is on fire, coming into Thursday’s game with a .389/.404/.685 triple slash line and a .296 Isolated Power rate. However, Alex Rodriguez (.222/.327/.333) and Curtis Granderson (.208/.321/.458) have gotten off to slow starts, although Granderson does have three home runs.
RHP David Aardsma (Tommy John surgery) and LHP Pedro Feliciano (torn left rotator cuff) are on the 60-day DL. LHP Cesar Cabral (left elbow stress fracture), RHP Joba Chamberlain (dislocated ankle and torn ankle ligaments), RHP Michael Pineda (right shoulder soreness), C Austin Romine (lower back strain), and LF Brett Gardner (right elbow soreness) are on the 15-day DL. Pineda and Gardner are expected to return to the lineup in May.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
Four and eight. Lost both games to the Rangers. However, let’s look on the positive side. The first five series of the year (with this being the last of the five) were killers. But the schedule is kind to the Red Sox in the next seven series – Twins, White Sox, Athletics, Orioles, Royals, Indians, and Mariners. Let’s see where the Olde Towne Team is after that stretch before we start making any grand pronouncements about the team.
The Yankees will hit well, as they always do. However, it will be their starting pitching depth that will have to come through for the Yankees to win the American League East once again. But at least they have starting pitching depth. Bartender, another Sam Adams please.