The Boston Red Sox (69-93, 26 games back in 2012) visit the Bronx to open the 2013 season with a three-game set against their perennial rivals, the New York Yankees (95-67, first place in the AL East in 2012). New faces are plentiful in Boston but injuries are the talk of Gotham. Pre-season predictions are mixed for the Red Sox but are pretty dire for the Yankees. Good.
STARTING PITCHERS: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte
CC Sabathia (facing Jon Lester in the season opener) had an interesting 2012 season numbers-wise, but they just go to show you how good of a pitcher he is. Sabathia’s 2012 ERA of 3.38 was his highest ERA since posting a 4.05 ERA for the 2005 Indians. Sabathia’s 2012 FIP of 3.33 was higher than his stellar 2.88 FIP in 2011, but is still below his career average of 3.50. His ERA- was 81 in 2012, the highest he has had since he posted a 94 in 2005, but was still only a touch above his career average of 80. And he even lowered his walk rate to 1.98/9 (compared to 2.31 in his 2011 season). Sabathia’s 2012 WAR of 4.6 was again his lowest since 2005, but when an off-season means a 3.38 ERA/3.33 FIP/3.20 xFIP and a 3.17 SIERA, you’re talking about a top-notch pitcher.
Hiroki Kuroda (versus Clay Buchholz) keeps proving everyone wrong. In 2012, Kuroda pitched 219.2 innings (most on the Yankees), posting a 3.32 ERA/3.86 FIP/3.67 xFIP. Kuroda’s BABIP of .281 and the spread between his FIP and ERA shows that he rode a little streak of luck. On the positive side, Kuroda had a career-high ground ball rate of 52.3%. On the negative side, he also notched a career-high in homers to fly balls, with the ball leaving the yard at a 13.0 % rate. If Kuroda can limit his homers this year, he could have another sparkling season.
Andy Pettitte (matched up against Ryan Dempster) just keeps rolling, he keeps on rolling along. Returning to the Yankees for his 18th season in the majors, Pettitte will need to provide more than the 12 starts he had last year. In those starts, however, Pettitte was pretty darned good. He posted a 2.87 ERA/3.48 FIP/3.27 xFIP. Pettitte’s BABIP of .278 explains the spread between his FIP and ERA in 2012. Just as with Kuroda, Pettitte’s weakness was the home run – his homer to fly ball rate was 13.3%. If Pettitte can put up similar numbers to 2012 over a full season, the Yankees just may be able to pitch their way through their early season injuries.
1. Brett Gardner, CF
2. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Travis Hafner, DH
5. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
6. Vernon Wells, LF
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Francisco Cervelli, C
9. Eduardo Nunez, SS
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
Of the Yankees expected to be on the 25-man roster, Robinson Cano (.344/.333/.500, .833 OPS), Eduardo Nunez (.311/.386/.377, .763 OPS) and Brett Gardner (.292/.378/.354, .732 OPS) had nice springs, while Hiroki Kuroda (1.53 ERA, 0.849 WHIP, .191 BAA, 7.50 K/BB), David Robertson (0.00 ERA, 1.080 WHIP, .207 BAA, 3.00 K/BB) and Mariano Rivera (0.00 ERA, 0.571 WHIP, .130 BAA, 9.00 K/BB) were their usual stellar selves. Some Yankees that struggled in Florida were Francisco Cervelli (.205 /.279/.359, .638 OPS), Chris Stewart (.239 /.271/.348, .619 OPS), and new signings Brennan Boesch (.188/.278/.250, .528 OPS) and Travis Hafner (.200/.288/.378, .666 OPS). Cold Yankee pitchers in the spring were CC Sabathia (5.40 ERA, 1.800 WHIP, .341 BAA, 1.5 K/BB), Adam Warren (8.15 ERA, 1.925 WHIP, .324 BAA, 1.00 K/BB), Shawn Kelley (5.63 ERA, 1.375 WHIP, .281 BAA, 4.00 K/BB), Cody Eppley (10.13 ERA, 2.250 WHIP, .389 BAA, 2.5 K/BB) and Boone Logan (6.75 ERA, 1.750 WHIP, .250 BAA, 2.33 K/BB). (Apologies, but advanced spring statistics are hard to find.)
LHP Cesar Cabral (stress fracture in left elbow, placed on 60-day DL on March 26), CF Curtis Granderson (fractured right forearm, placed on 15-day DL on March 31), RHP Phil Hughes (bulging disk in upper back, placed on 15-day DL on March 31), SS Derek Jeter (left ankle soreness, placed on 15-day DL on March 31), RHP Michael Pineda (right anterior labral tear, placed on 60-day DL on March 28), 3B Alex Rodriguez (right hip, placed on 60-day DL on March 21), 1B Mark Teixeira (partially torn tendon in right wrist, placed on 15-day DL on March 31).
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
Jackie Bradley Jr. made the team. John Lackey is slimmer. Jackie Bradley Jr. made the team. David Ortiz is hurt. Jackie Bradley Jr. made the team. Alfredo isn’t being Alfredo after being Alfredo. Jackie Bradley Jr. made the team. The Sox signed Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster and David Ross. Jackie Bradley Jr. made the team. John Farrell is the new manager. Jackie Bradley Jr. made the team. And Bobby V. is a part-time Mets announcer and full time athletic director at Sacred Heart University. Did I mention that Jackie Bradley Jr. made the team?
The Red Sox got lucky in having to start the season against the injured Yankees. Here’s hoping the Sox make hay while the sun shines. And people, try not to scream too loudly if Jackie Bradley Jr. doesn’t hit 12 homers in this series.