Yankees at Athletics Preview
By Ricky Keeler
Here are the key elements to look out for on this Athletics’ team:
1. Willing to Hit Home Runs: This will be the second straight series that the Yankees will face a team that has an inability to hit the long ball. The A’s are 24th in runs scored, 27th in slugging percentage, and 28th in home runs with 29. Oakland made some moves in the offseason, picking up former Royal outfielder David Dejesus via trade and signing former Yankee World Series MVP Hideki Matsui. However, the one move that has been their lone source of power has been a trade they made with the Nationals for outfielder Josh Willingham. Willingham is batting .244 on the season with nine home runs and thirty-five runs batted in. He was always an under-the-radar outfielder in the National League, but Oakland needs him to keep producing if they want to win this division.
2. The Money Ball Rotation: I have been very impressed by the A’s pitching staff this season. How can you not be? The A’s lead the league in ERA (2.82) and in quality starts (37) because of this young, talented rotation. The three pitchers that the Yankees will see in this series do not have an ERA above 2.85. That is remarkable! The best pitcher on their staff has been Trevor Cahill. Cahill is 6-2 with a 2.02 ERA and has given up just 16 runs in 71+ innings. In a wide-open division, you might only need pitching to win. If that is the case, then the A’s have three of the best in Anderson, Cahill, and Gonzalez. In addition, they could get Dallas Braden and Tyson Ross back within the next few weeks.
3. Can Bailey “bail out” the bullpen? Oakland does have a great rotation, but their bullpen has been full of inconsistency and miscommunication due to the absence of All-Star closer Andrew Bailey. Bailey had been out since September 17th of last year with a right forearm injury before being activated on Sunday. He did appear in Sunday’s win against the Orioles, but it came in the 7th inning as Bob Geren is trying to ease Bailey back into the closer’s role. If he can return to dominance, it adds to a team whose bullpen has blown 6 saves this season with a combination of Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour as the closer. The Yankees will need to get into that bullpen with their offense if they want to win this series.
This is the series where the Yankees will get two of three. Oakland has great starting pitching, but they do not have a good record over the course of their careers against the Bombers. Let us look at the numbers:
- Trevor Cahill – (0-2, 12.60 ERA)
- Brett Anderson – (0-3, 4.68)
- Gio Gonzalez – (1-2, 6.60)
The Bombers need to put together some consistent offensive numbers, especially Alex Rodriguez, who has not hit a home run since the Orioles’ series. He usually plays well against the A’s, so expect him to have a big series. Out of the three A’s pitchers, I will say Cahill does the best because he does not put a lot of runners on base. On the other hand, Gonzalez and Anderson can have a tendency to get lit up from time to time.
For the Athletics, you know Hideki Matsui will hit a home run in this series, but there is not much to fear on this offense, which is similar to this Seattle series. If New York can put pitches in the lower part of the zone on a consistent basis, they will be able to get plenty of quick innings.
YANKEES WIN 2 OF 3!!!