W2W4: Yankees at Blue Jays (Sept. 27)

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
11:26
AM ET
Ivan Nova Stats to Watch
Nova was shaky in his last start against the Athletics, but was very good against the Blue Jays the last time he pitched in the Rogers Centre (7 1/3 innings, two runs, 10 strikeouts on Aug. 11).

Nova's optimum pitch that day was his curveball, which he threw with greater frequency in that start than in any other in his career. He threw 19 of 25 for strikes to lefties and 15 of 21 for strikes to righties.

It was effective as both a swing-and-miss pitch (the Blue Jays missed on eight of 13 swings) and a pitch with which he could get a called strike (of the Blue Jays' 33 takes, 21 were strikes).

Nova has a specific strategy against AL East opponents to offset their teeing off on his fastball. He throws it only 49 percent of the time against them, compared to 58 percent against everyone else.

Whatever Nova has done against the Blue Jays recently, it has worked. He has won three straight decisions against them, allowing six runs in 20 2/3 innings.

Brandon Morrow Stats To Watch
Morrow has a history of success against a number of Yankees hitters, specifically Curtis Granderson (.125 BA, 10 strikeouts in 16 at-bats), Derek Jeter (.182 BA, 22 at-bats), and Alex Rodriguez (.190 BA, 21 AB).

If Joe Girardi "plays the binder," you may see Eduardo Nuñez tonight. He's 5-for-12 against Morrow. You'll also likely see Ichiro Suzuki (4-for-10) in the leadoff spot.

Morrow has had a harder time throwing his breaking ball for strikes since he returned from injury. He was getting 62 percent strikes with it prior to the injury, but only 54 percent since.

Morrow's fastball has also gotten drubbed. He jss yielded five home runs with it in his last six starts, including two against the Rays in his last start.

Historically, the fastball/slider combo has been Morrow's go-to against the Yankees. In his last three starts against them, they've accounted for 58 of his 60 outs.

Morrow's 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings against the Yankees is the best of any active pitcher.

The long wait for A-Rod
Alex Rodriguez is still waiting to catch Stan Musial on baseball’s all-time RBI list. Rodriguez has 1,949 RBI, one shy of Musial for fifth all-time.

However, he's 1-for-14 with five strikeouts in his last three games and has no RBI in his last seven games (his second-worst RBI drought of the season. He had a nine-gamer in May).

Rodriguez has missed on pitches he should be hitting. Of the 13 outs in these last three games, 10 have come on pitches in the strike zone, and the other three were just off the plate.

Wednesday, Rodriguez made three outs against pitches that were located "middle-middle" (meaning over the middle-third of the strike zone both height-wise and width-wise).

Rodriguez was hitting .313 against pitches in the strike zone this season prior to this little slump.

Home Run Happy
The Yankees figure to hit a few home runs this weekend.

If Eric Chavez hits one, he'll give the Yankees nine hitters with at least 15 home runs. Only two teams have been able to do that previously: the Indians and Rangers, both in 2005.

The 233 home runs hit by this team are their fourth-most in a season. They need seven to catch the 1961 team for third-most.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.289 8 47 47
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 17
RBIM. Teixeira 48
RB. Gardner 61
OPSB. Gardner .787
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135