The Yankees begin a three game series tonight at 7:05 against the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals, find themselves in second place in the AL Central with a 18-16 record, have outperformed expectations to this point. The Yankees – with their sloppy defense, pitching issues and the underperforming Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner and to a lesser extend Derek Jeter – can be satisfied with being tied for first with a 19-13 record.
For the first game of the series Freddy Garcia will face Kyle Davies. He was drafted by the Braves and was traded to the Royals in exchange for Octavio Dotel on July 31st, 2007. Davies has been a starting pitcher for Kansas City since then never really living up to expectations. Part of his claim to fame is giving up Alex Rodriguez’s 500th career home run. Since his rookie season, in 2005, he has compiled a 40-51 record, with a 5.46 ERA. So far this season he has a 1-4 record, a 7.32 ERA, a less than mediocre WHIP of 1.77 and has allowed 11 runs in his last two starts. In addition, Davies has a 10.00 ERA in four road starts this season.
Garcia has not pitched as well as Bartolo Colon, who was the other veteran right hander who the Yankees took a chance on, but the Yankees could not have asked too much more of him thus far. He is coming off a season where he had 12 wins and a 4.64 ERA for the Chicago White Sox, and so far it seems like he will improve on those numbers if he stays healthy. Garcia has a 1-2 record, a 2.88 ERA and a respectable 1.32 WHIP. He is coming off his worst start of the season, where he allowed four runs in seven innings, but he recorded his highest strikeout total of eight.
The Yankees will have the pitching edge in their favor, and their offense should be able to score many runs off Davies.
So far this season the Royals have been lead by two players who have previously played for the Yankees and one who has played with the Mets. Melky Cabrera, who played for the Yankees from 2005-2009, has hit .283 so far with three home runs, 21 RBI and three steals. Wilson Betemit, played with the Bronx Bombers from 2007-2008 with limited success, is hitting .309 with 16 RBI. Jeff Francoeur, played for the Mets in 2009 and most of 2010, is leading the Royals in home runs with eight, and is also sporting a .302 average with 24 RBI. It is hard to believe that this will continue since Francoeur often gets off to fast starts and then cools down.
Other players to watch out for include former highly regarded third base prospect Alex Gordon who has a .309 average (now playing left field/first base), Billy Butler who his hitting .294 with three home runs, and the recently called up Eric Hosmer who was blistering AAA pitching to the tune of a .439 average. However, they lack any established stars or any players that hit for true power.
On Wednesday, Bruce Chen will pitch against A.J Burnett, which upon first glance appears to be a fairly even pitching matchup. However, Chen’s career stats are worse than his 3.59 ERA so far this season and over 12 starts he has a 6.71 ERA against the Yankees. He has not faced many lineups with the Yankees’ power so far either. Burnett is coming off a start where he only allowed two earned runs but was hurt by errors in the field.
The final game of the series will see Ivan Nova start for the Yankees (3-2, 4.08) and Sean O’Sullivan (1-2, 3.41) take the hill for the Royals. Nova is coming off three solid performances in a row, while O’Sullivan has down the same but not with the dominance of Nova. A troubling sign for O’Sullivan is that he has allowed the same number of strikeouts (14) as walks on the season.
The Yankees will send out their normal lineup of Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada, Russell Martin, and Brett Gardner to start the series.
Kansas City is only 3-8 so far this season on the road and that is a sign of a team that is not truly as good as its record indicates. It would be a disappointment if the Yankees don’t sweep or win two out of the three games against the Royals. They will be able to do this if they can limit their errors, drive in runners in scoring position and continue the solid pitching.