Friday, April 20, 2007

Yankees at Red Sox Preview

I'm legitimately fascinated to see A-Rod square off against the Sox' big three this weekend. If he has a big weekend, then I think we can safely say that his "jitters," or whatever you want to call them, in big games aren't getting the best of him this year. And if that's the case, all bets are off. In a de facto contract year, he could hit 75 bombs (actually, in a year where Bonds should pass Aaron, that would be terrific). But if he struggles, regardless of how well Schilling, Beckett, and Matsuzaka pitch, the same questions will linger. This is going to be awesome.

And away we go...

Friday: Andy Pettitte (1-0, 1.50) vs. Curt Schilling (2-1, 2.84)

I suppose I should stubbornly stick to my guns that Andy Pettitte is over-rated, and as evidence of my confidence level going into this game, I present the following:

Current Red Sox vs. Pettitte - .372/.413/.585 (164 AB)
Current Yankees vs. Schilling- .286/.322/.473 (315 AB)

That Yankee line isn't terrible, but the Red Sox line is absurd. Manny alone has a 1.165 OPS against Pettitte in 59 at bats, making up a pretty large portion of the Sox' total of .999 (Ortiz, Pena, Drew, and Lugo are all at 1.000 or higher as well, in much smaller sample sizes). Pena had better start over Crisp tonight.

I have two predictions for the game tonight. One, Schilling will put A-Rod on his ass in the first inning. Two, America will look on in horror as the Red Sox wear green jerseys and caps to honor Red Auerbach, who had absolutely nothing to do with their franchise. I loved Red as much as the next casual Celtics fan, but this is kinda something that, you know, the Celtics should do (and, in fact, they already did). Would the Bruins or Patriots do this (of course not - in fact, they didn't)? Honoring the legendary deceased is one thing; exploiting them for exposure and green t-shirt sales is reprehensible. Way to go, Dr. Charles.

Saturday: Jeff Karstens (0-0, -.--) vs. Josh Beckett (3-0, 1.50)

I don't know much about Karstens. In eight MLB appearances, he's 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA, 16 strikeouts and 11 walks in 42.67 innings. His minor league numbers are solid if unspectacular, and he's coming off of an elbow injury, which should be a concern. The Yankees will need him to go deep, especially in a day game after a night game, and I don't know if he's got it in him. Similarly-talented pitchers have slowed down the Boston bats already this year, so 6+ innings are not out of the question, but the injury would worry me were I a Yankee fan.

I don't even know what to say about Beckett after last season. I tend to trust a whole season of data over three starts, but he's been phenomenal so far this year. He seems to be trusting his stuff more and throwing all of his pitches, which he clearly wasn't doing in 2006. If you chalk up at least part of his struggles last year to the switch from the J.V. league to the Varsity, it's not crazy to think that he could be an ace-caliber, Cy Young contender - tomorrow will be his first big test.

Sunday: Chase Wright (1-0, 5.40) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-2, 2.70)

Chase Wright won his major league debut, and had two great minor league starts before being called up. That's the good news. The bad news is that he only went five innings against Cleveland on Tuesday, and his minor league track record through 2006 has been unimpressive. His lifetime minor league ERA is a respectable 3.85, but his career peripherals are bad, and his strong 2006 (one HR allowed in 119.67 innings!!!), was in high A-ball. He could be a pretty good pitcher down the road, but in front of a national audience on a Sunday night in Fenway... I'll take my chances with the offense.

Matsuzaka should be at least 2-0, maybe 3-0 at this point; he definitely hasn't pitched badly enough to have 2 losses. After being trumped by Felix Hernandez (who pitched so well that he injured his elbow in his next inning pitched) in his first home start, he threw three good innings at Toronto before getting frustrated by the umpires in the fourth inning and allowing two runs that should have been unearned. After escaping the fourth, he was dominant with a chip on his shoulder in the fifth and sixth, striking out four in a row in the heart of Toronto's lineup. Obviously this will be his toughest test yet in MLB, and it's a shame Matsui is out, but the atmosphere should still be crazy. As much as I'm looking forward to following A-Rod, I can't wait to see how Matsuzaka handles the Yankee sluggers.

Two hours to go... start the series, please.

1 comment:

Warren said...

[Wright's] lifetime minor league ERA is a respectable 3.85, but his career peripherals are bad, and his strong 2006 (one HR allowed in 119.67 innings!!!), was in high A-ball.

Not only that, but high A-ball at age 23.

Oh, and Ross, I'm sure Boston fans are quite appreciative of your anti-jinx of Varitek and Crisp.