Monday, August 15, 2011
W2W4: Yankees at Royals (Monday)
Getty Images/Al Bello
Facing a right-handed pitcher who throws 95 miles-per-hour could be the one thing that slows Curtis Granderson down. The Royals will send such a pitcher to the mound on Monday
A.J. Burnett What2Watch4
Perhaps the Royals will be the cure for what has ailed Burnett, who is winless in 13 starts as a Yankee in August.
In four starts 26 1/3 innings against the Royals as a Yankee, Burnett has allowed just four runs (three earned) and 12 hits. He’s faced 100 batters and yielded just two extra-base hits. He allowed only one hit against them over seven innings in a 4-3 loss on May 11.
Burnett has had a good curveball going for him in those games, using it to finish off left-handed hitters. He’s gotten lefties out 21 times with his curveball (14 by strikeout) without yielding a base hit with one. He should see a bunch of lefties in the Royals lineup on Monday.
It was the hook the was most costly to Burnett in his last start, though it was a right-handed hitter who got the key hit- Angels catcher Jeff Mathis netting a two-run double against it.
Jorge Posada What2Watch4
Posada will be facing the team that he hits the hardest. Posada is a .325 career hitter against the Royals, the only AL team against which he has a .300 batting average or higher. His OPS against them: .999
Posada has not hit well on the road all season though, 0-for-16 against left-handed pitching and a .198/.268/.315 slashline split (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) vs right-handers.
The root of Posada’s issues against right-hander is an inordinately high strikeout rate. Posada has struck out 13 times in 134 plate appearances against a right-handed pitcher at home, but 31 times in 123 plate appearances on the road.
Posada is much more apt to chase a pitch with two strikes on the road than he is at home. Though he’s actually seeing about the same rate of pitches out of strike zone regardless of location, he’s seeing significantly more offspeed pitches (changeups, curves and sliders). And he’s flailing at them, as the chart on the right shows.
Felipe Paulino What2Watch4
Paulino, the Royals starter, is 7-29 with a 5.29 ERA, but within that is a pitcher who is headed in the right direction.
Paulino, a righty, has one win in 12 starts this season, but has a 3.65 ERA as a starting pitcher, with 68 strikeouts and 23 strikeouts in 74 innings.
In eight of 12 starts this season, the Royals have scored three runs or fewer.
The Yankees have never faced Paulino, whose fastball averages 95-miles-per-hour. They've struggled against pitches of 95+ from right-handers this season, hitting .193 against them, 33 points below major-league average according to our pitch performance data.
Curtis Granderson is the Yankee who has had the most issues. He's 1-for-18 against pitches from right-handers of 95-miles-per-hour or faster in 2011. Mark Teixeira has three home runs against such pitches this season, which was tied with Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko and Albert Pujols for most in the majors entering Sunday.
Alex Gordon & Eric Hosmer What2Watch4
Gordon has finally broken through and become the star player that he was expected to be when he was recalled in 2007.
The Yankees have done a nice job of shutting Gordon down over the last three seasons. He’s just 6-for-47 against them since 2009, including 1-for-10 with four strikeouts earlier this season.
Hosmer hit the Yankees very well in his first trip to Yankee Stadium, going 4-for-12 with two home runs. His first career home run came against Burnett on a day in which he drove in the winning run with an 11th-inning sacrifice fly.