The Yankees and Dodgers have also only somehow met once in Interleague Play -- back in 2004, also at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers remain the only National League team that hasn't played the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the 13 years that Interleague Play has existed. Weird.
I don't remember these three games at all, other than that I'm sure I was annoyed that the Yankees dropped two.
The media's going to make a big deal out of this weekend's series because the Yankees are facing Joe Torre for the first time since he left the team after the 2007 season. However, this particular series is no more important than any other three game set on the schedule. Given that Boston had its way with the Dodgers last weekend, I'd like to see the Yankees also embarrass Los Angeles.
CC Sabathia (3.68 ERA; 4.10 FIP; 3.95 xFIP) lines up with every Yankee fan's favorite pitcher, Vicente Padilla (6.67 ERA; 5.62 FIP; 4.17 xFIP) in tonight's opener. After a rough May, Sabathia's been on a roll in June, with a 2.48 ERA and 3.13 FIP. Padilla is not a very good pitcher, has a penchant for plunking Yankee batters, and all things considered the Yankees should destroy him.
A.J. Burnett (4.83 ERA; 4.96 FIP; 4.67 xFIP) gets Hiroki Kuroda (3.06 ERA; 3.46 FIP; 3.68 xFIP) on Saturday. Burnett's finally due for a good outing, right? I don't know anything about Kuroda, but those are some pretty gaudy numbers. According to this scouting report, Kuroda doesn't have overpowering stuff. However, this is listed in the "Flaws" section, even though we all know this is an incredible asset against the Yankees, who for reasons that remain unexplained just cannot hit slow-pitch slop.
And Andy Pettitte (2.48 ERA; 3.67 FIP; 4.04 xFIP) faces Clayton Kershaw (3.24 ERA; 3.30 FIP; 4.14 xFIP) in the ESPN Sunday Night Marathon Heartbreaker. Both pitchers are having fine years, although Kershaw leads all of MLB in walks, which seems like a disaster waiting to happen for LA given that he'll be facing the AL's top OBP squad. Andy has had a season for the ages -- he has only surrendered more than two earned runs twice in 14 outings! -- and at this point picking against him seems crazy, even if the nature of baseball suggests he'd be due for a clunker at some point.
Here are the two teams' offense and pitching numbers:
On the surface the Yankees and the Dodgers appear to be pretty evenly matched. LA's offensive attack is led by Andre Ethier (still 2nd in the NL in wOBA, despite cooling down in June to the tune of a .294 wOBA) and Manny Ramirez. Manny has of course been their hottest hitter this month, and as always will likely annihilate Yankee pitching this weekend. LA's pitching appears to be roughly middle-of-the-pack, while the Yankee pitching staff continues to do excellent work.
The 2010 Yankee offense has been carried by Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner thus far, though this past week Alex Rodriguez finally started to show some signs of shaking off the offensive malaise he's been mired in for much of June, while Mark Teixeira has also started to pick his game up some (.250/.368/.450 in June), though still not to the lofty standards we're accustomed to. MJR will be taking a more in-depth look at the team's continued lack of power later this afternoon.
Going primarily on the pitching match-ups, the Yankees should take two of three this weekend, but as I've said in many of these series previews, it could certainly go either way. Two wins would give the Bombers a winning road record in Interleague this year, and an overall Interleague record of 11-7.
As an aside, the overwhelming sentiment of late among Yankee fans about the team has been shock that the team has been playing as well as it has while getting less-than-optimal contributions from three of its primary offensive cogs -- namely A-Rod, Tex and Derek Jeter. The team needs those three to start picking it up to balance out the inevitable regression by Cano, Swish and Grit. I said this to a few folks the other day, and I still believe that if the Yankees end up missing the playoffs this year, it certainly won't be because of the pitching.
For what it's worth, 'Rod seems convinced he's on the cusp of breaking out. Per LoHud, “Sometimes you take four or five days off and it takes you a day or two to get back in sync,” Rodriguez said. “Kevin Long and I are spending long hours in the batting cage and we both feel pretty good about what’s about to happen.”
Hopefully "what's about to happen" is the home run tear we've all been waiting for.