A quick primer on the Yankees, in celebration of the first career start of Joba Chamberlain in a series that features a couple of good pitching matchups.
The Yankees come into this series having split four with the Twins, though like the Jays they have lost their last two. They've been very streaky so far this year - their last sixteen games they've gone LLLLWWWWWLLWWWLL.
Tonight sees the good Doctor Halladay face phenom Joba Chamberlain. Joba's father is American Indian, and he has family living on reservations in Nebraska. Which means the name Joba means... well, nothing. His niece couldn't pronounce Justin, and called him Joba, and he legally changed his name. Anyway, Chamberlain is on a strict 65-70 pitch limit as he is being stretched out. His fastball averages about 96 mph, and he throws it a lot. His slider tops out in the mid 80s, as well as a 12-6 curveball. Once in a blue moon against lefties he'll throw a changeup with tailing action. He's really been a fastball and slider pitcher in the pen, and it remains to be seen what he will do when he has to throw more than two pitches regularly, though he has been throwing the curve more and the slider less this year...
The Wednesday night game pits young gun Jesse Litsch against crafty veteran™ Mike Mussina. Mussina turns 40 in December and has 258 wins and 2696 strikeouts, so he probably wont reach any of those magical counting numbers, but what a pitcher he has been. Itas hard to believe this is his 8th season with the Yankees, after 10 with the Orioles. He's also a fantastic fielder, having won six gold glove awards, for whatever thats worth. It will be interesting to see what the collected wisdom of the BBWAA is in six years. Anyway, Mussina throws his fastball around 85 nowadays, with decent movement and good control. He'll also throw a slider in the low 80s, a curveball in the low 70s, and a changeup a few mph slower than that. This whole Gregg Maddux changing speeds thing has worked out so-so though - he has an era of 4.26 and a k/bb of 33/10 in 61.1 innings.
The Finale sees Dustin McGowan go up against Chien-Ming Wang. Wang has surprisingly become the ace of the Yankees staff over the years, and has led a crazy life - it turned out his uncle was really his biological father, and the Taiwanese went crazy, as they do for all things Wang - every one of his games is on TV, people cheer and follow his every move. Its kind of nuts. Anyway, Wang throws a sinking fastball in the low 90s, as well as a slider. That's about it. Oh, he'll throw a changeup every now and then too, but its the sink to his ball that does opposing batters in. He has a fine groundball rate of 60%, and allows less than .50 home runs per 9 innings. He's only struck out 45 batters against 29 walks in 78.1 innings, which is not so spectacular - as a result he sports an era of 4.12.
Jason Giambi is, uh, very entertaining these days. Right now he is growing an extraordinarily awesome moustache, and earlier he wore a thong in an attempt to break out of his slump... He's hitting .250/.384/.526 after hitting .236/.356/.433 last year, so I guess its working.
Cap'N' Jetes got hit on the hand by a pitch on May 20th and speculation has arisen that he is hiding an injury. His batting average has plummeted from .312 to .271, though he hit a home run Sunday off Nick Blackburn. Along with Alex Rodriguez he is apparently one of the top ten earning athletes in professional sports. Not bad... He and A-Rod are also leading the balloting at their positions for the All-Star Game, which will conveniently be held in New York. No Yankee is doing worse than 4th in the balloting at their position, which makes sense given that the Yankees have a very middle of the road offense. Scott Rolen is the most successful Jay, and he's 550,000 votes behind A-Rod at third. I expect that Marcum and/or Halladay will round out the Blue Jays contingent, though if Rod Barajas keeps hitting like he has... Speaking of Rodriguez, he's been back for about two weeks after missing about 20 games earlier in May.
Jorge Posada has been battling shoulder problems for the last month or so, and may just make it to Toronto in time to pinch hit on Thursday if need be. Hey, the man's caught 1369 games in the majors, which is a lot... Chad Moeller and Jose Molina have been splitting catching duties in the meantime, and Moeller's been the better of the two so far, though I use that word judiciously - he has an ops of .706.
Mariano Rivera has, as always, been ridiculously dominant. He's allowed one run in twenty-four innings so far this year, and is a perfect 15 for 15 in save opportunities. He even won the AL player of the week award last week!
Reliever Scott Patterson made his made his major league debut on Sunday a few days shy of his 29th birthday, and was quite tickled to be wearing pinstripes. I guess its kind of a big deal.
The Infirmary: Jonathan Albaladejo, Andrew Brackman, Brian Bruney, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Fozzie Bear, Rosie O'Donnell, Carl Pavano, Jack Black, Humberto Sanchez, Ban-Ki Moon, Big Bird, Jorge Posada! Woah! (Just checking, by the way.)
The 2008 Slogan: All Star Summer. I give it a B+ - kindof classy, and factually accurate.
The Chart: Uh, check out Fangraphs...