The last three weeks have been a wild ride for those of us who observe the New York Yankees on a regular basis. The last three weeks have produced the following results: 1-5, 6-1, 1-5. What the heck do you make of that mess? My predictions each week have not been remotely close with those kinds of wild swings. We all know the offense is putrid. We all know the pitching has been spotty. And the last couple of weeks have shown us that as much as we love our 43 year old closer, his last season is not going to be dominating as in the past. We can celebrate each one of his saves, but our hearts get in our throats just a little bit more than usual.
This week will be very interesting. First off, the Yankees come home finally after a long trip out west. That means that we can go back to normal sleeping patterns here on the East Coast. And the two series the team will play are both fascinating in their contrasts. Both will feature phenoms we have not seen before. So let's take a look at the week to come and see what this week in Yankees baseball will bring.
After a day off on Monday, the Yankees will host the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have never been to the new Yankee Stadium and the series hearkens back to the glory days of the 1950s when both teams played in New York City. The Dodgers have been disappointing. After spending a fortune in the off season and becoming the "new Yankees" in the media's mind, they are mired in last place, five and a half games behind the fourth place Padres! In fact, they are the only team in that division without a winning record. While that once again proves that money alone does not win championships, it is a bit bothersome because the Dodgers are managed by local hero, Don Mattingly, just about everyone's favorite ex-Yankee. I am sure he will get a warm welcome, but those same Yankee fans will not want him to right his Dodgers' ship at the Stadium this week.
The series will also feature a close up look at Yasiel Puig, a player that has every tongue wagging the way he has exploded on the scene. The Yankees, meanwhile, are back to square one without Mark Teixeira (at least it was not horrible news this time) and Kevin Youkilis. But good things seem to happen when Lyle Overbay is in the lineup, so there is that.
Phil Hughes opens the series on Tuesday against (not really a) rookie sensation, Hyun-jin Ryu. The "Jin" part of his name should be capitalized, but then Baseball-Reference.com does not recognize the name, so apologies. Ryu is left-handed, which is a problem for the Yankees. It would be fun if Ryu, a Korean, could pitch against Chien-Ming Wang, but, oh yes, Wang is busy throwing two great games so far for the Blue Jays. Just saying.
Ryu will pose problems for the Yankees' offense and Phil Hughes in Yankee Stadium is always a dicey proposition. The thought of Hughes versus Puig is chilling.
I feel better about Wednesday's game as Hiroki Kuroda will face his old team and remind them of what they are missing. Even though it is just Wednesday, the Dodgers have not announced their pitcher. Why? Well, Chris Capuano is out. Ted Lilly has been in and out. Josh Beckett is out. Clayton Kershaw pitched Saturday and Matt Magill has not been effective. I like the Yankees' chances in this one.
It is weird that the schedule made this only a two-game series. Even that is not kind to the Dodgers.
The Tampa Bay Rays come to town after the Dodgers to begin a four-game series on Thursday. The Bay Rays have been struggling as much as the Yankees, but in their case, it has been with the pitching. Matt Moore has hit a wall, Jeremy Hellickson is finally getting even with his FIP. Like the Yankees, the Rays have lost six of their last ten. The Rays have outscored the Yankees by sixty-three runs but have given up forty-two more runs as a pitching staff than the Yankees.
The series will also give us all a first-hand look at Wil Myers, who is being promoted to the Majors this week. The prospect was a big part of the James Shields deal with the Kansas City Royals. Myers is the #4 prospect as rated by Baseball America and has it all as an offensive player. He hits for power and has decent patience. He has a career OPS of .911 in the minors.
It is not surprising that the pitching lines have not been announced for the series. But the Yankees' rotation has been stable for quite some time now. The series should feature Andy Pettitte, David Phelps, CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes.
Playing the Rays at home is far superior to facing them in St. Pete. The Yankees have a decent chance of winning that series and should split with the Dodgers. That said, the prediction this week is 4-2. I know that is a stretch after a 1-5 week, but there it is. It will be fun to see Puig and Myers, but for the Yankees, it is good to be home and hopefully, better things will happen.
Have a great Yankees week, everyone!