W2W4: Yankees at Nationals (June 15)
June, 15, 2012
By Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information
Phil Hughes Stats To Watch
Hughes was very good in his last start against the Mets, taking advantage of their hitters' tendency to take pitches. He got a season-high 24 called strikes and was able to get a strike on pitches that were on (or just off) the outside edge.
Hughes' home run streak has continued into the season. The road portion of this is an oddity. He has allowed one home run in each of his six road starts this season.
Nationals Park is on the spacious side. On ESPN.com's Park Factors, it checks in just below average for home-run friendliness, ranking 17th. Hughes has allowed home runs this season in two parks that were more pitcher-friendly -- Angel Stadium and Tropicana Field.
Gio Gonzalez Stats To Watch
Though Gonzalez is having great success this season, he'll have to overcome a lack of success against the Yankees. He's 1-4 with a 7.27 ERA in five career starts against them.
Gonzalez allowed one run and two hits in 6 2/3 innings in his debut against them in 2009, but has allowed at least four runs in each of his four starts versus the Yankees since then. His primary issue has been throwing strikes. He has walked 20 in 26 innings against the Yankees.
He has handled Yankees lefties fairly well. Curtis Granderson is 2-for-13 against him (with a home run), Robinson Cano is 0-for-9 and Raul Ibañez is 0-for-4.
Bryce Harper Stats To Watch
We're guessing you'd name Ken Griffey Jr. as the last teenager to homer against the Yankees, but that would be incorrect.
It was actually Ivan Rodriguez, who was a little less than three months shy of his 20th birthday when he homered against reliever Eric Plunk and the Yankees on Sept. 3, 1991.
Harper, 19, will be a formidable foe for Hughes, though he actually has better numbers against lefties (a Boone Logan or Clay Rapada/Harper matchup late in a game will be fascinating). Overall, he's hitting .303 with a .933 OPS, seven home runs and 19 RBI.
Righties have been able to find holes in Harper's swing down in the strike zone, though that doesn't play to Hughes' primary pitch location. He's 9-for-24 in at-bats versus right-handers that end in the upper-third of the strike zone, but 6-for-43 when the at-bat ends in the lower third. That's partly a product of being susceptible to a good breaking ball.
With two straight series sweeps, the Yankees have won six straight interleague games. Another win would give them their second seven-game interleague winning streak in as many years. Their longest interleague winning streak, thanks to Baseball-Reference.com, is a 13-gamer, overlapping the 2003 and 2004 seasons.