Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Aces up for Yankees & Mets tonight
By Will Cohen
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsThe New York Mets face the New York Yankees tonight (7 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN), looking to win three straight games for the first time since April 8.
Matt Harvey faces his childhood team at Citi Field tonight.
Harvey on the Hill
The Mets have their ace going, with erstwhile Yankees fan Matt Harvey on the mound.
When Harvey starts this season, the Mets are 7-3, but they're a mere 12-26 in all other games.
Harvey aims for his 11th straight start without a loss to begin the season, which would tie the Mets franchise record held by Armando Reynoso, who began the 1997 season with a 5-0 record and a 2.63 ERA in 11 starts.
This will be Harvey's 21st career start, and Elias tells us that his 2.30 ERA is the best by any Mets pitcher through 20 career starts.
Harvey's repertoire begins with his fastball, which has averaged 95.1 miles per hour this season, trailing only Stephen Strasburg among qualified starters. Over 50 percent of Harvey’s fastballs have been located up in the strike zone this season, the highest rate among all starters.
His changeup has been particularly effective against lefties, who are batting .077 in at-bats ending with a changeup this season and whiffing on 38 percent of swings against it.
The combination of pitches has resulted in Harvey owning MLB's lowest opponents' OPS against the fourth-through-seventh spots in the lineup this season at .354.
Kuroda Crushes Righties
Fourth on that list is tonight's Yankees starter, Hiroki Kuroda, who is allowing an AL-low .231 on-base percentage to opponents hitting fourth through seventh.
The right-handed Kuroda has been especially lethal against right-handed hitters, limiting them to a .178 average with 21 strikeouts and three walks this season.
Kuroda leads Yankees starters with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP this season, and his 1.6 wins above replacement are more than double any other Yankees starting pitcher.
If Kuroda gets his bullpen a lead, the game may be over, as the Yankees are a perfect 25-0 when leading at the start of the eighth inning. Then again, David Robertson allowed the game-winning run to the Mets in the eighth inning on Monday, for the Yankees first loss all season when leading after six innings.
Despite that hiccup, the Yankees bullpen has a 1.88 ERA this May, and Mariano Rivera has converted all 18 of his save chances this season.
As noted here, Rivera has 20 regular-season saves in 22 chances against the Mets. His 91 percent conversion rate is third-best among the 17 pitchers with at least 20 save chances against the Mets, trailing John Smoltz (24-for-24) and Randy Myers (21-for-21).
With this two-game series officially ending tonight before the teams shift to Yankee Stadium tomorrow, the Mets could take a set from the Yankees for the first time since 2010 at Citi Field. The Yankees have won five straight series against the Mets and hold a 54-37 edge in the regular-season series.