A little snap shot I got of Ching-Ming Wang on crutches
I've been saying it for a couple weeks. It's true. Count the Yankees out. Even when they went into the Red Sox series at Yankee Stadium last week, I saw they were facing Halladay and Burnett (again!) vs. the back end of the Yanks rotation. I knew that was two more losses.
Speak of Halladay and Burnett, it seems like the Yankees always get stuck facing these two. The odds of facing two particular pitchers in a three-game series is 30%. The Yanks have faced the Jays 5 times and in all five of those series Halladay has pitched. The odds of that are 7.7%. (Halladay lost on Opening Day and beat the Yanks the next four times.) Burnett they have faced four of the five series. So far this year, Burnett (having a great year in his "walk year") has only faced the Red Sox two times. Halladay has faced the Red Sox 3 times (2 wins, 1 loss, a 1-0 game). Halladay is probably the best pitcher year-in and year-out in the AL (Cliff Lee is the best this year, without a doubt).
It seems the Yanks seem to draw the best of every team's rotation this year. I'm not making excuses for them; they don't need it. Their best hitter missed a month and hasn't been as good as his MVP year last year. Jeter and Abreu are slightly down, Matsui and Posada both missed over half of the season. That's probably their top five hitters. Couple that with their ace missing half the Year (Wang) and Hughes missing most of the season, they are lucky to even have a winning record. Plus they make more unproductive outs than any team I ever saw.
Back to the theme of their opponents' starting pitchers. Cliff Lee. The Yanks played the Indians twice, missed Lee in a four-game series, amazingly, then were shutout by him during the second series. They faced Sabathia and Carmona once each. But after they were shutout by Lee, things got more difficult. Starting with the game verse Lee, over a nine-day period the Yanks faced Lee, Scott Kazmir, Johan Santana, Matt Garza and Jamie Shields (also Jeremy Bonderman and Kenny Rogers, both average pitchers). After Santana, the Yanks were flat vs. Oliver Perez (probably threw better than anyone else during that stretch, and beat them again the next month).
They caught a break and missed Felix Hernandez (who they beat already earlier in the year) when they played the Mariners (they faced and beat Bedard and Washburn who are both average to above average pitchers). Halladay came in for a win, they faced the Twins slew of young, mediocre pitchers who overachieve, then back to interleague.
In Interleague, they faced the Padres (saw their ace, Peavy) and the Astros (as they did with Peavy, they beat the Astros ace, Oswalt). They looked awful verse the Reds top pitcher (Volquez). I can't complain too much about interleague. The Sox faced Webb and Haren and the Yanks missed the D-Backs all together.
It got no easier with the Mets again (missed Maine, but they faced the other big names, including Santana and the-aged Pedro Martinez). A fun eight-day AL East Stretch of Beckett, Lester, Kazmir (2-game series vs. Tampa and drew the ace again, but beat him) Halladay and Burnett. Granted, those are division teams so they are probably lining up to face them.
The Yanks won eight-straight out of the All-Star break, including wins over Beckett (down this year, but they still faced him all but one time vs. the Red Sox) and Duchscherer. They lost to Guthrie and Cabrera (I guess those are Baltimore's two best pitchers) in a three-game set. Anaheim beat the tar out of the Yanks with Weaver twice, Lackey twice, Santana and Saunders once each. The Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles in Orange County were beating everyone, though. Until they put the breaks on and started snoozing. I hope they wake up for the Red Sox in the first round, somehow I think they won't.
And this week more of the same, Kazmir, Halladay, Burnett, Lester, a one-game series vs. the Tigers where they destroyed their ace, Justin Verlander. (Don't think Lester is an elite pitcher, check out his career numbers...)
I guess losers complain. It's baseball, the luck of the draw. I'm just trying to find some reason how this team has performed like this. Even with the injuries, they still have a lineup now with a potential future hall-of-famer (I-Rod, who has no power left but still hits for average) is hitting ninth.
One thing that makes me feel better... they will be better next year. Odds are Wang, Hughes and Chamberlain play a lot more. These are young guys. Wang's injury was a freak injury. They resign Mussina (He won't be as good as this year, but he'd be a good 3 or 4 starter) and Pettitte is back and pitches better (He said he wants to play in the new Yankee Stadium) and they are going to be solid next year. Plus Burnett is probably out of the division next year, so the Blue Jays take a massive step down.
It's still going to be a long off season. Unless you win it all, it always is.