The streaking Yankees have won eight straight games — tied with the Rays (seriously) for the longest active streak in baseball. They did benefit from two blown saves in 4-3 wins over the Angels and Twins, but won the other six by an average of 7.2 runs — all by at least three.
During that stretch, the Bronx Bombers have averaged a ridiculous 7.75 runs per game. In fact, New York has scored at least four runs in 10 consecutive contests. The Yanks haven’t solely relied on their explosive offense either, as their pitching staff has held teams to an average of just 2.1 runs per game during their 8-game winning streak. Four of those eight opponents only mustered a single run.
Can the Yanks keep it going on Sunday night against the scuffling Angels? Let’s analyze the battle of two southpaw starters to find out.
New York Yankees (+102) at Los Angeles Angels (-112) | O/U: 8.5
C.C. Sabathia (1-0, 1.86 ERA) vs. Tyler Skaggs (3-1, 2.96 ERA)
8:07 p.m. ET on ESPN
Scouting Skaggs: Lefty Tyler Skaggs will face the Yankees for the first time in his career. New York has performed slightly better against right-handed pitching this season, but not by any significant margin. Its lineup is built to mash all pitching, regardless of handedness. Just take a look at the Yankees’ OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) splits, where they rank in the top 5 against both righties and lefties.
For whatever reason, Skaggs has always struggled in Anaheim, as you can see from his career splits below.
That trend has continued this season. In his last start, the Angels lefty dazzled over seven shutout innings at Houston, improving his 2018 road record to 3-0 with a pristine 0.48 ERA. Meanwhile, he hasn’t made it through five innings in either of his two home starts, where he is 0-1 with an ERA of 8.00.
Glorious Gregorius: If the season ended today, Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius would win MVP. He’s been the best player in all of baseball thus far — pitchers included. Just take a look at the updated 2018 WAR (wins above replacement) rankings:
(How about three A’s players in the top 5?)
If WAR doesn’t help drive that point across, here are his updated YTD stats along with their corresponding MLB ranks:
Bananas. You also can’t forget about his excellence defense at short.
While his full season stats are superb, he has elevated his play to another level over the last 12 games. Even after an 0-3 Saturday night, he’s 18-45 (.400) with 7 HRs, 17 RBIs and 13 runs over his last 12. Just for fun, I extrapolated those numbers over a full 162-game season: 94 HRs, 229 RBIs and 175 runs. Silliness, Sir Didi.
Bonus Didi Fun Facts: You can’t help rooting for Gregorius, who has clearly never lost his love for the game. He’s known as one of the best clubhouse presences in the league and certainly one of the most interesting players.
- Nationality: Dutch (born in Amsterdam)
- Real first name: Mariekson (nicknamed Didi when he came to the US)
- Raised in Curacao
- Speaks four languages
- Throws one of the most vicious whiffle ball curves you will ever see
Didi Gregorius makin’ whiffle balls look like boomerangs pic.twitter.com/hgGoT3eYad
— Starting 9 (@Starting9) January 29, 2018
It still amazes me that New York only had to give up pitcher Shane Greene to get Gregorius, as part of a 3-team trade with the Tigers and Diamondbacks. While Greene had a solid 2017 as a reliever in Detroit, he’s not one of the best shortstops in baseball — which Mariekson certainly is (even if most won’t acknowledge it for some reason.) Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman deserves a lot of praise for that deal.
Crafty Carsten: C.C. (Carsten Charles) Sabathia’s 1.86 ERA looks spectacular, but his fortunate .203 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) and more realistic 4.88 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) tell a much different story. In fact, his -3.02 FIP-ERA delta ranks as the second worst in the league. While his walk rate has decreased, so has his strikeout rate. He hasn’t even pitched 20.0 total innings in his four starts.
While his ERA will certainly regress, he’s still very crafty. Sabathia has adjusted well to a drop in overall velocity in recent years. He still avoids barrels, as evidenced by his extremely low average exit velocity in both 2017 and 2018. He’s one of only 10 pitchers in all of baseball with an average exit velocity of 85.0 mph or less this season (minimum 50 batted ball events.) And last year, only Kyle Hendricks had a lower average exit velo among all qualified starters. He won’t give the Yankees much length, but he can still pitch.
C.C. owns a 3.91 ERA in 21 career starts (9-9) against the Angels. Only two current L.A. hitters have had any real past success against him: Mike Trout and Ian Kinsler — 14-49 (.286) with four homers. On the other hand, Justin Upton, Albert Pujols and Cole Calhoun have only combined to go 6-36 (.167) vs. Sabathia.
Throwing Caution To The Wind If you take a look at the weather forecast, it looks like the wind will be blowing out in Anaheim tonight, with the anemometer reading numbers near or above 10 mph. However, winds blowing out have no historic correlation with overs in Angel Stadium.
Since 2005, the Halos have played 550 home games with the wind blowing out — 300 of which featured winds of at least 5 mph. In both cases, the over has an overall losing record. That doesn’t necessarily imply the wind has no correlation with runs, as it most likely speaks to the fact that the market properly prices the impact of wind into totals at Angel Stadium.