Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Looking Past Tampa

In football, you are never supposed to look past an opponent. Any team can beat any other team on any given Sunday, as the saying goes. The same could be said for baseball, with the saying elongated to include any day of the week. Especially in April, the goal is just to pick up wins and it almost doesn't matter whom you beat because we just don't really know who is good and who isn't yet.

Still, nobody can deny the electricity that exists when the Red Sox and Yankees get together. Last weekend's series was just that: electric. The games were all close, and if not always well played, extremely exciting. So in that vein, I wanted to jump the gun and take a look ahead at the potential pitching match ups for this coming week's three gamer in the Bronx.

NY's pitching staff is in a state of flux. They are finally caving and bringing up the highly touted Phil Hughes (who apparently grew up a big Red Sox fan) to fill one of many holes in their starting rotation created by injury and ineptitude. Hughes will make his first start against Toronto on Thursday. Since he'll be pitching the night before Boston comes to town, he won't be available in the series unless Torre brings him back on two days rest in a relief capacity, and this is highly unlikely.

Mike Mussina is on the disabled list and it is unclear if he will be available for the series or not. The Yankees website doesn't list when he was put on the DL. Carl Pavano was put on the DL on April 15, so he won't be eligible to return until after the series. In fact, there is some concern about whether Pavano will ever come back. From Bronx Banter:
Pavano told ESPN’s Rick Sutcliffe Monday that he was unsure if he’d pitch again this season – Pavano and the Yankees, despite there being a transcript of the interview, are denying the report and planning a throwing session Wednesday.

The MLB.com website doesn't have all the probables listed through Sunday yet. However the listing as posted now for next weekend's series are:

1. Daisuke Matsuzaka v. Jeff Karstens
2. Tim Wakefield v. Kei Igawa

Its possible that both Yankee starters could change, given how well both have performed. Igawa got lit up again last night, and now has as many bad starts as decent ones. Karstens didn't fare well against the Red Sox last weekend, giving up 7 runs in 4.1 innings of work.

As for game three, Chieng-Ming Wang has just come off the DL and will pitch for NY in tonight's game (Tuesday). This would seem to put him in line to start the series finale on Sunday. Wang has had three starts in the minors to shake the rust off after getting hurt before making his first start of the season. He hasn't been that effective, though I'm sorry, I can't find the link to his rehab stats.

As the Red Sox have no off days before the series, Matsuzaka and Wakefield are set. Sunday's game calls for their fifth starter, who currently is His Craziness, Julian Tavarez. If Tavarez gets shelled tonight, and we all know there is a decent chance that could happen, Kyle Snyder and Jon Lester are possibilities.

Last weekend's series featured Boston's best three starters vs. NY's best starter and two scrubs all in Boston. This series is shaping up to be more even. The Sox will throw their numbers 3, 4, and 5 starters in New York. The only thing that won't change is the Yankee starting pitching which will probably be worse, at least on paper.

Right now, have to give the pitching edge to Boston again, even with Tavarez in line to start. If the Sox can go into New York and win two out of three, you would have to call that a big success.

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