The Yankees finished their ten-game home stand by winning seven of those contests. That perhaps blunts the two of three they lost to the Oakland A's over this past weekend and masks a bit that the Yankees should have swept the Astros. In the long view, seven wins out of ten is a lot better than the other way around, so quit complaining, right? Hey, it is my column and I will if I want to. After a day off today, the Yankees begin a road trip that starts at dreaded Coors Field where anything can happen, and then finish the week at Kauffman Stadium against a Royals' team that is no longer a pushover and sits currently a half game behind the Tigers in the AL Central. It should be a wild ride.
The Yankees will lose the DH in Denver and that is a problem on an offense that should not scare anyone despite a pleasant beginning to the season. Some of the early mojo of guys like Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner might be wearing off to regress to the mean. Wells has a .574 OPS in his last eleven games and has seen his overall numbers drop. Hafner has an OPS of .556 over his last five games and has struck out over 30% of the time. Eduardo Nunez has some sort of rib cage problem and will most likely sit on Tuesday and is zero for 2013 with men in scoring position.
Call me pessimistic, but this offense put together with chicken wire will only keep the hens safe for so long. Never mind, that is a Maine thing. Anyway, great for the Yankees for being this good for this long to start the season without their horses. That good news part of the equation is something we can all agree upon.
So...three games in Coors Field. The Rockies are absolutely rockin' and rollin' on offense. They are first in the National League in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. And unlike recent years, the pitching is somewhat holding up for them. They currently have a +27 run differential and are a game back from the Giants in the NL West. A healthy Troy Tulowitzki is a key to the Rockies success and Yankee fans who stay up late to watch the games will see one of the best shortstops (if not the best) in the game today.
The first game belongs to Hiroki Kuroda and he has pitched at Coors Field four times. His ERA there is 6.85 with a 1.567 WHIP. That does not fill the Yankee faithful with all kinds of confidence. Kuroda will face Jorge De La Rosa, a lefty who had looked pretty good this season until he got beat up in his last start.
Juan Nicasio, whose 3-0 record is a bit deceiving considering the large amount of base runners he has allowed so far this season, is David Phelps' opponent on Wednesday. Phelps does not overpower people and depends on movement to keep batters from squaring up his pitches. The ball does not move as much in Coors. That is a bit frightening as well.
The series finale pits CC Sabathia against Jeff Francis. Sabathia has only pitched twice in Coors from his days with the Brewers. That was quite a long time ago now, which, along with the small sample size, somewhat negates the tremendous success he had there. Jeff Francis is your typical meatball throwing left-hander who currently sports an ERA over seven. Francis has struck out only eleven batters in his 26+ innings of work thus far this season.
That Thursday game is a day game and then the Yankees fly that night to Kansas City to start a series with the Royals on Friday. The Royals have been playing well this season and pitching is a big key. Heading into Sunday's game, they had given up the fewest earned runs in the American League. The offense of the Royals is sort of a mixed bag. They hit well for average but are last in the AL in homers and, with three notable exceptions of Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler, hardly ever walk. They are last in the American League in taking walks. It will be an interesting series.
The pitching lines have not been announce for that series. But if things go according to form for the Yankees, it will be Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda. The Yankees should see the weaker part of the Royals rotation against guys like Luis Mendoza, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis. It will be an interesting series for both teams. The Yankees will play against their third straight series against teams with a winning record. The Royals will get a gauge of where they are once they face the Yankees. Hughes has been pitching wonderfully for the Yankees in his last three starts. Pettitte is now a concern after two sub-par starts. And Kuroda will be extra glad to be out of Coors Field.
My prediction for the week is that the Yankees will go, 3-3 this week.
Have a great week of Yankees baseball, everyone!