The Oakland Athletics face the American League East's leader once again for a weekend series. This time, however, it's the New York Yankees, who at 25-22 lead the Tampa Bay Rays by 1.5 games. The Yankees just completed a three-game sweep over the Kansas City Royals, but that was just coming off an abysmal 1-10 stretch.
The A's will be up against two left-handers in CC Sabathia and Chris Capuano, following by right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Adam Warren. Against left-handed pitchers, the A's are 26th in wRC+ (73), but against right-handers they are fourth (109).
New York has played without Ivan Nova, who will return from Tommy John surgery this year, and Masahiro Tanaka, who is rehabbing from a strained forearm.
Thursday vs. CC Sabathia (7:05 PM PDT)
C.C. Sabathia's fastball velocity has cratered from its 94-95 heyday through 2011, and sits around 90-91 these days.
Sabathia has tried to compensate for the loss of velocity by using his fastball less frequently:
|Thursday (7:05 PM PDT)|
|CC Sabathia||vs.||Kendall Graveman|
But it has not been very effective. Since 2013, his annual ERA figures have been 4.78, 5.28, 5.47, and he just has not been an effective starting pitcher. His last start, against the Texas Rangers, was the worst this year by game score, giving up six runs and seven hits in 2⅓ innings while striking out four and walking one. Right-handers are hitting him at a .345/.379/.529 split.
Friday vs. Chris Capuano (7:05 PM PDT)
|Friday (7:05 PM PDT)|
|Chris Capuano||vs.||Sonny Gray|
Sometimes I wonder if Chris Capuano has a Google alert for anytime someone mentions his name next to some variation of the phrase "only pitcher to return to starting after two Tommy John surgeries."
Chris Capuano started the season on the disabled list after incurring a hamstring injury in spring training. In two starts since returning from the disabled list, he has given up six earned runs in 7⅓ innings while giving up 12 hits, including two home runs. He has struck out eight and walked two.
The left-handed Capuano throws an 89 mph sinker, a slider, a changeup, and a curveball, according to his Brooks Baseball profile. The changeup has induced a whiff 11 out of 35 (31%) times, and the slider 12 out of 46 times (26%).
Saturday vs. Nathan Eovaldi (7:05 PM PDT)
|Saturday (7:05 PM PDT)|
|Nathan Eovaldi||vs.||Jesse Hahn|
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi was traded to the Yankees with a couple other players from the Marlins in a post-Winter Meetings trade that sent David Phelps and Martin Prado to the Marlins. The 25-year-old has already made 88 major league starts and has a 4.09 career ERA.
Eovaldi has a 97 mph fastball, with a slider, curve, splitter, and rarely thrown changeups and sinker, according to Brooks Baseball. The Yankees are pushing Eovaldi to move away from the fastball to increase its effectiveness, writes Matt Provenzano for Pinstripe Alley. His usage of the splitter is up to 7%, though he is only getting a 21% swing-and-miss rate from it, below league average.
Sunday vs. Adam Warren (1:05 PM PDT)
|Sunday (1:05 PM PDT)|
|Adam Warren||vs.||Jesse Chavez|
Adam Warren moves from the bullpen, where he made 69 appearances in 2014, to the rotation in 2015. As recently as two weeks ago, however, Pinstripe Alley's Chris Sandstrom was wondering if Warren was destined for a return to the pen once Chris Capuano, Ivan Nova, and Masahiro Tanaka made their ways back. At that time, the issue was that Warren was not going very deep into games, having failed to finish the six innings in his first six starts. Since then, he has thrown three quality starts, pitching into the seventh inning of all three.
Warren is throwing a 93 mph fastball, a slider, circle change, sinker, and knuckle curve, according to Brooks Baseball.
At the plate and in the field
|3rd (4.62)||RS/G||10th (4.18)|
|5th (102)||wRC+||6th (101)|
|2nd (60)||HR||10th (42)|
|9th (.246)||AVG||6th (.255)|
|6th (.317)||OBP||5th (.318)|
|3rd (.418)||SLG||10th (.389)|
|3rd (.172)||ISO||11th (.135)|
|T-4th (29)||SB||T-4th (29)|
|13th (35)||Errors||15th (50)|
|13th (-17)||DRS||7th (0)|
|13th (-9.5)||UZR/150||15th (-11.5)|
|13th (.703)||DE||6th (.717)|
The Yankees come to town with Jacoby Ellsbury on the disabled list due to a sprained knee, which is too bad for the Yankees because he was extremely productive for them. His 126 wRC+ is therefore out of the lineup, and in its place is a platoon of Chris Young (yes, that one) and Slade Heathcott in center field.
Heathcott is off to a good start for New York, going 6-for-17 with a home run and a double. Chris Young has been outstanding against left-handed pitchers (211 wRC+ in 49 plate appearances), but his appearances against righties has dragged him down (31 wRC+ in 67 plate appearances). The A's are scheduled to send four right-handed starters to the mound this weekend.
New York's best hitter qualified for the batting title is, of course, the unmarketable Alex Rodriguez, who has hit 11 home runs and is batting .276/.374/.566. Just behind him in wRC+ is Mark Teixeira, who has 14 home runs, but is only hitting .243/.362/.579.
Better than average: The Yankees have given 65% of non-pitcher plate appearances to batters with a better than 100 wRC+ while the A's have only handed 53% of plate appearances to the same.
Sogard line: Eric Sogard's wRC+ dropped to 70 after going 1-for-6 with a strikeout in the Tigers series. The Yankees have given 24% of plate appearances to non-pitchers batting at or below that line. The A's figure is 23%, including Sogard.
|3rd (155.2)||IP||6th (146.2)|
|4th (3.12)||ERA||15th (4.91)|
|3rd (3.40)||FIP||13th (4.33)|
|2nd (3.58)||xFIP||13th (4.22)|
The bad news for the A's is that the Yankees may employ the two best relievers in baseball right now. Closer Andrew Miller has the second-highest strikeout percentage amongst qualified relievers, and the highest for a left-handed reliever. The only pitches ahead of him is Yankees setup man Dellin Betances, who has yet to concede a run through 26 innings.
The good news for the A's is that the rest of the Yankees bullpen is nothing much special. Two of New York's relievers, David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve, were acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Braves for minor league pitcher Manny Banuelos. Carpenter's numbers are down from his career marks, while Shreve is still rookie eligible after an extended look by the Braves last year.
Manager Joe Girardi will have to be careful with using his top relievers this weekend. Miller and Betances both come into the series having worked consecutive games against the Kansas City Royals, as well as Sunday's game against the Texas Rangers.
|2015 Stats||Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)|
|Time (PT)||Probable starters|
|Thursday||7:05 PM||CC Sabathia vs. Kendall Graveman|
|Friday||7:05 PM||Chris Capuano vs. Sonny Gray|
|Saturday||7:05 PM||Nathan Eovaldi vs. Jesse Hahn|
|Sunday||1:05 PM||Adam Warren vs. Jesse Chavez|
Thursday night features the Stephen Vogt Referee Bobblehead giveaway to 15,000 fans. Gates are opening at 4:30 for that one, which means a rare opportunity to catch the end of A's batting practice. All of the games will be on Comcast Sportsnet California.