We asked our bloggers, Mark Simon and Katie Sharp from ESPN Stats & Information, to take a closer look at the most intriguing storylines of this series.
What intrigues you most about Friday’s game?
Sharp: Can the Yankee lefties take Jonathon Niese deep?
Niese has allowed one home run to the 46 left-handed batters he’s faced this season, but that longball came in his most recent start against the Reds.
Yankee lefties have combined to hit 11 homers off same-handed pitchers, the most among all MLB teams. Curtis Granderson has seven of them this year, but has yet to homer off Niese in six career at-bats.
Simon: Will the Mets be able to resist Andy Pettitte’s slider.
Of the 20 sliders Pettitte threw with two strikes to Mets hitters, only four ended up in the strike zone. Yet, Pettitte recorded seven strikeouts with the pitch.
The Mets were actually better than most teams in terms of knowing when to chase that pitch (they swung at 41 percent of his out-of-zone sliders), but they’ll either need to be better, or avoid getting to those counts in the first place to have a successful night.
What intrigues you most about Saturday’s game?
Sharp: If Ivan Nova can continue his remarkable streak of excellent pitching performances in road interleague games.
Nova is 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA in four career interleague starts away from Yankee Stadium.
He is the first pitcher to start his career winning his first four road interleague starts while allowing no more than one run in each outing. The only other pitcher with a streak like that at any point in his career is Jamie Moyer, who had a similar four-start streak from 2002-04.
Simon: How many fly balls Chris Young allows that would have been home runs or extra-base hits in Yankee Stadium.
Young’s style is such that he allows a lot of fly balls, with a batted-ball breakdown of 36 flies, 22 grounders and 10 liners. In Yankee Stadium, about one of every seven fly balls leaves the park. In Citi Field, the rate is about one of every 12.
To his credit, Young has not allowed a homer in his first three starts. I’d expect that to change on Saturday night.
What intrigues you most about Sunday’s game?
Sharp: Can the Yankees solve R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball?
Dickey shut down the Yankees in two starts against them last year (two earned runs over 11 innings), but this is the first time he faces them in 2012.
Raul Ibanez and Alex Rodriguez have been able to hit Dickey in the past. Ibanez is the only player with three homers off the knuckleballer; A-Rod is 6-for-13 (.462) with two doubles against him.
However, the Yankee switch-hitters (Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher) have not had much success against Dickey, going a combined 3-for-21 (.143) with six strikeouts and seven groundouts.
Simon: CC Sabathia's hitting.
Sabathia is 2-for-14 and hitless in his last nine at-bats as a Yankees hitter in regular-season play. That’s not like him. Prior to coming to the Yankees, Sabathia hit .259 with three home runs in 59 at-bats.
R.A. Dickey needs to know that grooving an 85 mile-per-hour fastball over the middle, like he might do against other pitchers, is not necessarily the best option against Sabathia.