Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 8:35 PM
We had a tough time deciding whether to make Red Sox/Yankees or Dodgers/Giants our Showcase Series in this Friday edition of the NOTEBOOK. It’s very easy to make the case that Dodgers/Giants is more important. Those teams are involved in a tight divisional race. And, in the National League right now, being in a tight divisional race means you’re also in a tight Wildcard race too. No such drama in Red Sox/Yanks, as Boston is a full 10.5 games behind in the AL East standings. Yet:
*All three Boston/New York games will be featured prominently on television this week. The MLB Network is there for Friday Night’s Game. Fox will show much of the country that match-up Saturday afternoon. And, not surprisingly, ESPN will show Sunday’s game in prime time…as ESPN is the official national outlet for both Yankees and Red Sox baseball!
*New York just acquired Ichiro Suzuki, which makes their current story even more interesting than it had already been.
*Alex Rodriguez just broke his hand in Seattle, and will miss two months of action. That’s not as big a story now as it would have been two or three years ago. But, it’s still a big deal that could have ramifications down the stretch.
AROD is out, Ichiro is in…how can you NOT talk about Red Sox/Yankees?!
Well, we’re trying to find a balance between entertainment value and meaning in the NOTEBOOK this summer (as we always do), and we’ve decided the best thing to do is preview the projected pitching matchups in BOTH series. That should enhance your viewing pleasure, and help your handicapping at the same time.
7:05 p.m. ET on the MLB Network
Boston: Cook (2-3, 3.50 ERA, 1.03 WHIP)
NYY: Hughes (9-8, 4.09 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
10:15 p.m. ET
L. Angeles: Undecided
S. Francisco: Cain (10-3, 2.74 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)
Well known pitchers have trouble beating Cain in San Francisco. So, you know “undecided” is going to be in big trouble! By the time you read this, an announcement may have been made regarding the sacrificial lion. Personnel moves by the Dodgers will have an impact on who they throw when until things get settled down. Very tough spot for the Dodgers here as they travel in without a day off, then have to face Cain without one of their studs.
Fascinating pitching matchup in the Bronx because Cook hardly gets any strikeouts any more, while Hughes is still firing away trying to overpower opponents with his stuff. It’s very dangerous to try a “pitch to contact” approach in Yankee Stadium. That being said, groundball heavy guys have had success here, particularly Chien-Ming Wang before he lost his magic touch. Edge to the Yankees in our view. And, we’ll think about the Over with these offenses. Oh, pay attention to Ichiro’s hitting approach. He’s famous for launching homers in batting practice even though he generally tries to beat out grounders once the games begin. He’s now in the ideal ballpark for a lefty with bat control who can lift fly balls to right.
4:05 p.m. ET on FOX regional
Boston: Lester (5-8, 5.46 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)
NYY: Sabathia (10-3, 3.30 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)
4:05 p.m. ET on FOX regional
L. Angeles: Billingsley (5-9, 4.15 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
S. Francisco: Zito (8-6, 3.75 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Normally Lester vs. Sabathia would be a marquee pitcher’s duel. Sabathia is still an ace. But, Lester has fallen off the map this year. He’s lucky to be 5-8 given those numbers! Good luck with inconsistent stuff against the Yankees. Maybe late afternoon shadows will help him with this TV starting time. Of course, if shadows are helping the pitchers, that just puts Sabathia in position to dominate even more dramatically. JIM HURLEY will be working with his sources for guidance about game conditions.
Not exactly a sizzler in San Francisco. Zito has settled in though, and is now at least an innings muncher even if he’s never going to recapture his past glory. Remember that he gets to pitch his home games in good pitching conditions…which means he’s not as good as his numbers. We have extreme cases of that with the series we’re covering today. The Yanks and Red Sox play in the DH league, and play in hitter’s parks. The Dodgers and Giants play in the non-DH league, and play in pitcher’s parks. Scary to think what would happen to Zito, and probably even Billingsley if they had to pitch for Boston or NYY. This isn’t the Billingsley that we saw back when he first came up and dominated.
4:05 p.m. ET
L. Angeles: Kershaw (7-6, 3.14 ERA, 1.08 WHIP)
S. Francisco: Vogelsong (8-4, 2.26 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)
8:05 p.m ET on ESPN
Boston: Doubront (10-5, 4.54 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
NYY: Kuroda (10-7, 3.34 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
Sunday brings a pitcher’s duel by the bay, with the staff ace of the Dodgers facing a guy who pitches like an ace on his home field. We’ll look at the Under for sure, particularly if game conditions are going to help the pitchers. If one team has dropped the first two games, we’ll think about taking them in “avoid the sweep” mode. Too bad TBS didn’t pick up that game. They’re showing Washington/Milwaukee instead. One of the true showcase games of the weekend won’t be on national TV!
Of course, Boston/NY will be in Sunday prime time like usual when these teams play over the weekend. Big edge for Kuroda, who would be prominent in Cy Young discussions if he had gotten more run support. As we’ve mentioned before, his numbers are very similar to Sabathia’s. There are many unsung heroes to the Yankees great record this year. The media tends to sing about Jeter (who’s been okay), AROD (who’s been a disappointment and is now out), and Rivera (who’s been out most of the season). Great team effort for New York this year with the bats and the arms. Clear edge here to Kuroda, and we’ll think about taking as hot on him if he’s affordable.
To summarize: pitching edges for the home teams, as their aces are scheduled to appear in these matchups against opponents who don’t have rotation depth. Clearly some opportunities for side and total action depending on how the market numbers open and move.
JIM HURLEY could have at least one major release amongst these six games, and may have more depending on what his on-site sources come up with in the Bronx. There are other important matchups this weekend that NETWORK will also be paying very close attention to. Among those:
Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers
Detroit at Toronto
Oakland at Baltimore
Tampa Bay at the LA Angels
What a weekend in the American League!
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Don’t forget that our college football previews are running every weekend this summer here in the NOTEBOOK. We’ll tackle the Mountain West with Boise State on Saturday, then the Independents on Sunday with Notre Dame, BYU, Army, and Navy. That will wrap up July. August weekends will focus on the major BCS conferences. We’ll start with the ACC and work our way through the rest. NFL divisional previews will also be running in early August with the Hall of Fame game set for Sunday Night August the 5th.
No rest for the winners…that’s why you should link up now with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!