Sunday, June 27, 2010
Sunday storylines abound
Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of Dodgers lefty Jerry Reuss pitching a no-hitter against the Giants, so it seems appropriate to note that we've got two lefties on the mound tonight, and now four no-hitters already this season.
Not that you need more incentive to watch, but a couple weeks ago on Sunday Night Baseball, we had dueling no-no's for most of the evening between the Cubs and White Sox. It would seem unlikely that we'd get that again, but you never know.
That's just one storyline heading into Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN at 8 (eastern) this evening. Here are a few others that we found, utilizing the various research resources at our disposal (Baseball-Reference.com, Stats LLC, and the Elias Sports Bureau)
Pettitte lowers The Boom Andy Pettitte enters with 238 career wins and the fourth-best win percentage among left-handed pitchers with at least 200 wins. One more win, and he meets up with a former teammate on the career wins list -- David Wells.
Wells ended up 239-157 for his career, including 68-28 as Pettitte's Yankee teammate for four seasons. Pettitte currently stands at 238-137.
For more on Pettitte and the keys to his work tonight and this season, check out the ESPN TMI blog.
Joe Girardi is faced with an interesting decisions for what to do in left field. You wouldn't figure he would start a lefty out there against a hard thrower, but there is a compelling reason to do so.
Highest On-Base Percentage
in June (entering Sunday)
Brett Gardner ranks second in the American League with a .465 on-base percentage in June. Only Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton rates higher. But the decision to play him becomes tougher when you consider that Gardner is just 1-for-his-last 10 against left-handed pitching.
Likewise, Garret Anderson would loom as an unlikely weapon for the Dodgers, considering he's hitting just .174 against lefthanders this season, and has made just 19 starts in the field.
But there's a personal consideration here: Anderson is a .402 career hitter against Andy Pettitte, with 12 hits in his last 23 at-bats dating back to the start of the 2003 season. This could make him a dangerous weapon at some point in the game.
Of course, he can't start tonight because of our next storyline...
Will Manny be Manny? Manny Ramirez is a .416 career hitter against Pettitte. If Ramirez gets a hit in his first turn, he'll pass Shannon Stewart for the best career batting average against Andy Pettitte (among those who have faced him 40 times, by way of my Stats and Info colleague Katie Sharp).
There is no hitter with which Pettitte is more familiar than Ramirez, having faced him 86 times. He's gotten Ramirez out the last three times they've met. If he can get Ramirez out twice more, it would match the longest drought Manny has ever had against him.
Which Kershaw will we see? Clayton Kershaw was 1-2 with a 4.99 ERA in his first 6 starts this season. He’s been much better since then. The key to his success is pretty simple, according to Sharp's numbers.
Someone's convinced him it's better to throw strikes than to not.
First 6 Starts
Last 9 Starts
BB per 9 IP
HR per 9 IP
Pitches per inning
The challenge will be duplicating those numbers against the Yankees, a team that ranks among the AL's best in walk rate and percentage of pitches chased that were outside the strike zone. In fact, it might be the biggest challenge Kershaw has faced in any regular season game.