Thursday, April 26, 2007

Weather Helps Yankees

Last night's rain out in New York alters the pitching match ups we'll see this weekend when the Red Sox go to the Bronx (pictured above from a 2005 game I was lucky enough to attend where the Red Sox beat Carl Pavano and the Yankees 17-1).

Andy Pettitte who was scheduled to go last night is now available and will pitch tomorrow night against Daisuke Matsuzaka. Yankee legend-in-the-making Phil Hughes will make his first major league start tonight versus Toronto. Manager Joe Torre is altering Pettitte's start date by two days instead of altering Peittitte and Hughes by a day each to help Hughes avoid making his first major league start in the circus atmosphere of a Red Sox/Yankees series. This makes good sense, especially in light of what the Sox did to Chase Wright last weekend.

So, thanks to last night's rain, the Yankees catch a break and can now have their two best pitchers face the Red Sox. This tilts the match ups for this weekend in favor of NY. Lets take a closer look:

Friday: Matsuzaka vs. Pettitte
Notes: In the event of an even pitching match up, you give the advantage to the home team. However, its probably true that Pettitte has been pitching slightly better than Matsuzaka. We'll see if that holds or not. This is the closest match up of the series and its likely that the winner of this game will take the series.
Advantage: Yankees

Saturday: Tim Wakefield vs. Unannounced (likely either Igawa or Karstens)
Notes: Wakefield has, believe it or not, been the Red Sox second best pitcher behind Beckett this season. His reputation is that he gives the Yankees fits, although his actual career stats against the Yankees don't back that up. His career ERA is 4.28 while his career ERA against the Yankees is 4.60. Still, Wakefield is likely to be better if not significantly so than either either Igawa or Karstens, both of whom look less than major league ready. Additionally, if the Red Sox can force the Yankee bullpen to throw a good number of innings in this game, they'll increase their chances to win on Sunday.
Advantage: Red Sox

Sunday: His Craziness, Julian Tavarez vs. Chien-Ming Wang
Notes: Tavarez just isn't very good and against the best lineup in baseball this is simply a terrible match up for the Red Sox. Conversely, Wang is a good pitcher, though not a great one and is likely miscast as an ace. However, there is no question he is vastly better than Tavarez. For the Red Sox to win this game they likely need to do two things:

1) Knock the Yankee bullpen around in games 1 and 2
2) Get Wang's pitch count up so that he has to come out by the sixth inning

Wang likely won't hold the Red Sox scoreless, so weakening the Yankee bullpen earlier in the series by increasing their workload could allow the Red Sox to come from behind in this game if Tavarez can keep it reasonably close. Still, I won't be holding my breath.
Advantage: Yankees

On paper this series promises to be more competitive than last weekend's series in the Fens. The reality is that it likely won't be, simply because it doesn't get a whole lot closer than last weekend's series. Somewhat obviously, the goal for the Yankees will be to sweep the Red Sox and even the season series in the process. With Karstens or Igawa going for them on Saturday that will be a tall order.

For Boston a sweep looks improbable. On the road, Boston should hope to win a more modest two out of three. This likely means winning on Saturday and then either of the other two games. Still, you never can tell exactly what will happen by looking at the pitching match ups in a series. About the only thing we know for sure is it will be exiting.

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