When we last thought about the New York Yankees, they swept through The K like a virus, wiping out the positive vibes of a fine April and sending our Royals to the depths of May. In taking all three games, the Yankees outscored the Royals 18-10 and vanquished James Shields and Ervin Santana on consecutive nights.
Monday, the Royals will try to get into the win column behind Jeremy Guthrie. Yes, the Jeremy Guthrie who has a league-high 1.7 HR/9. This is not a good thing under normal circumstances. It's even worse when you play your games in a ballpark that features a jet stream blowing out to right.
The good news (if you choose to think that way) is that these aren't your normal Yankees. This is a team that is - taken as a whole- largely bereft of power. Not like the Royals, mind you. Nobody is that power starved. However, this Yankee team - with the benefit of playing half their games with a jet stream - has clubbed only 84 home runs on the year. That's just the 12th most in the AL. Yeah, that just doesn't seem normal.
The bad news (and I know you were waiting for this, so I hope you had plenty of time to pour yourself that drink) is that the bulk of the Yankee power comes from the left side of the plate. Robinson Cano (Booooooo!) has 20 home runs and leads his team. Travis Hafner checks in with 12 and Lyle Overbay has nine. Brett Gardner has seven and even the old man Ichiro has five. The ghost of Vernon Wells has 10 home runs this year, but of the team leaders, he's the only one who hits from the right side of the plate. I'm not even sure he counts. Since he went yard twice at The K back in May, he's hit just one home run and is hitting .180/.205/.233 over his last 156 plate appearances. It delights me when they bat him cleanup.
So I just used a couple hundred words to tell you that if I were a betting man, I'd bet on Guthrie giving up a few home runs tonight.
Of Guthrie's 19 home runs, (I'm not counting the inside the park HR from last week where Alex Gordon was injured), only three of them have come with runners on base. There's luck and then there's crazy goddamned insane luck. Guthrie is playing with house money against a stacked deck. He's walking 3.3 batters per nine, which is the worst rate of his career. He's striking out 4.4 batters per nine, which is also the worst rate of his career. And he gets a swinging strike in 4.9 percent of his pitches. Again, the worst rate of his career.
Aren't you glad he's signed through 2015? Before you answer, put down the Draino.
Guthrie's ERA is 4.29. But we know not to trust ERA. Choose an advanced metric... xFIP? 5.13. SIERA? 5.21. tERA? 6.23. You get the bleak picture.
The truth is, over his last 10 starts, Guthrie has been in full blown regression mode. Over his last 60 innings, he's struck out 22, walked 25 and coughed up 13 home runs. It's been bad, but the advanced metrics tell us we're not finished. While the Yankees aren't the Bronx Bombers of the turn of the 21st century, they still have enough juice and play in such a left-handed homer friendly ballpark that this is a scary matchup.