The one positive to A.J. Burnett crapping the bed Saturday evening is that we now get one heck of a rubber game to cap off this hotly-anticipated series between the Yankees and Dodgers. Starting for the visiting Yankees is Andy Pettitte, who has been one of the best pitchers in the American League thus far this season and is having his best season as a Yankee at the age of 38. Pettitte has averaged 7 1/3 innings pitched over his last six starts while posting a 2.25 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, and 4.11 K/BB. Every single one of those six outings has been a quality start, and Pettitte hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of them. In fact, Andy has allowed more than two earned runs in just two of his 14 starts this season.
Opposing Pettitte will be 22-year-old lefty Clayton Kershaw, who was the seventh-overall pick in the 2006 draft. Kershaw allowed more than two runs, earned or otherwise, in just two of his first 11 starts, but has fallen off a bit in June, allowing three or more runs in three of four starts. Not that he’s been bad. He’s 2-1 with a 3.90 ERA and 10.1 K/9 in his four June starts, his only real dud being his last start in which he gave up five runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Angels, all of those runs coming in his final two frames. The Yankees should be able to get their walks against Kershaw, but his impressive four-pitch arsenal (which includes a mid-90s fastball, big yakker of a curve, changeup, and slider), has shut-down potential. Over the past two seasons, a stretch of 262 2/3 innings, Kershaw has posted a 2.95 ERA and struck out 9.9 men per nine innings.
For those of you wondering if Joe Girardi would leave Curtis Granderson in the lineup against a tough lefty like Kershaw in a rubber game, the answer is yes (you’d prefer Chad Huffman, a player with just one major league hit to his name, or Kevin Russo, who is hitting .196/.260/.239 in 51 plate appearances?), but he’s dropped him to seventh in the order. Swisher bats second. Posada is back behind the plate and batting sixth. Marcus Thames, meanwhile, joined Triple-A Scranton last Tuesday, but has yet to begin playing rehab games there.