Series Preview: New York Yankees @ Seattle Mariners

MARINERS (24-25) Δ Ms YANKEES (27-21) EDGE
HITTING (wOBA) -37.4 (29th) -2.1 34.2 (2nd) New York
ROTATION (tRA)
21.3 (4th) 0.1 -6.8 (18th) Seattle
BULLPEN (tRA)
6.7 (6th) 2.6 16.9 (2nd) New York
OVERALL(RAA)
-9.4 (19th) 0.6 44.3 (2nd) NEW YORK

The Yankees have enjoyed some of the best bullpen success in the league and yet they've had a whopping 13 pitches appear in a relief role including Bartolo Colon, Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia who also comprise half their current starting rotation. In reality, the pen's success has been mostly due to Mariano Rivera and David Robertson. I don't know how many have noticed, but Mariano Rivera has surely entered a decline phase. Back in 2009, he lost a significant chunk of his swinging strikes and that showed up in his strikeout rate last season. Allowing just two home runs since the beginning of 2010 has kept his ERA in check but the ground ball rate is down this season as well so that might end. All of that does not mean Rivera is hanging by a thread. Being the most dominant reliever of all time, he had --and still has-- a long way to fall before becoming anywhere the other side of good.

David Robertson is a fine enough pitcher, but I wonder how he manages a strikeout rate as high as he has. Of the 88 batters faced this season, he's punched out 30 of them and it's not the first time he's ran a strikeout rate at or near one-third. He did it in 2009 as well over 191 batters. Yet he misses bats at only an average rate for American League relievers. He does get a few more called strikes, but those are usually difficult to sustain for strikeouts as umpires on average shrink the zone with two strikes.

Fri 27 May 19:10

MICHAEL PINEDA A.J. BURNETT

A battle of two-pitch hurlers. Home town favor aside, I have to say that Michael Pineda's two pitches are better than your two pitches, A.J. Burnett. In fact, I wonder if A.J. Burnett represents a sort of 50th percentile for Pineda at this point. Is that even too pessimistic? I'm wary of my own judgments, especially this early for Pineda. We need to see how he's faring after hitters have seen him a couple times. If familiarity doesn't help them out, then ruh-rohs for batters.

Sat 28 May 19:10

FELIX HERNANDEZ IVAN NOVA

Ivan Nova clearly doesn't have stuff that will trick hitters and while he throws a lot of pitches outside the strike zone overall, his first pitch is more often in the strike zone than the average pitcher. It would seem then that he's aware of his pedestrian offerings and knows that he can ill afford to fall into hitter's counts. So if this becomes one of those games where the Mariners fail to earn many base runners because they are swinging early in the count and pounding the ball into the ground and Nova ends up with seven or eight four-hit one-walk innings, this is probably why. Or they might actually knock a guy around for the first time since the Mongols finally conquered that Great Wall in Berlin.

Sun 29 May 13:10

JASON VARGAS* CC SABATHIA*

By rotation this should have been Bartolo Colon's start, but the Yankees had an off day just as the Mariners did and they shuffled their rotation to keep CC Sabathia on a five day schedule. At least getting dominated by him is less embarrassing. And, hey, Jason Vargas, no worries about getting hit to death by the mighty Minnesota Twins lineup. Now you can rest against the Yankees.

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