The new-look Yankees look mighty good having taken their first two-games from fading playoff rival Toronto by a combined score of 12-3. But it's important to note that the reason they won those games was less the 12 runs on offense than the mere three runs allowed by their pitchers, and that the one pitcher acquired at the deadline has yet to make his Yankee debut. The new Yankee hurler will instead debut today in a get-away matinee on what is already a brutally hot day in the Bronx.
In his thrillingly contentious interview with Chris "Mad Dog" Russo on WFAN on Monday afternoon, Brian Cashman countered Russo's attack on Cory Lidle by telling the Mad Dog to take a look at what Lidle has done during the second half of the season over his career. I'm sure Russo didn't bother, but I did, and here's the answer:
First, here's what Lidle has done from April to July over the course of his career, including this season:
Indeed, Lidle has indeed been significantly better in the season's final two months, allowing fewer hits, fewer homers, and posting and ERA almost a run and a half lower than in the season's first four months. That said, looking at his individual seasons, it is September that is his strongest month. His career August numbers have benefited greatly from his 2002 performance for the A's in which he allowed just one earned run across 45 1/3 innings for an unreal 0.20 ERA. Knowledge of these trends should buy Lidle a bit of rope should he struggle in his initial Yankee outings.
This afternoon he looks to give the Yankees a clean sweep of the Jays, which would put them 8.5 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. Trying to stop him will be Sean Marcum, who earned his first major league win (and only career decision in 15 games) by holding the Yankees to three runs over five innings while his offense beat up on the man Lidle has replaced in the Yankee rotation, Sidney Ponson. Marcum received a no decision in his last start, a 4-3 Toronto victory over the A's in which he held Oakland to two runs but failed to complete the fifth inning.
As for Lidle, he's coming off his two best starts of the year, a pair of eight-inning wins against the Braves and Diamondbacks. Four of Lidle's last five starts have been quality starts. The last quality start the Yankees received from the fifth spot in the rotation came on May 6, Shawn Chacon's last start before being hit in the leg by Mark Loretta's comebacker in the game in which Matsui broke his wrist.
On Tuesday, Joe Torre said he wanted to see how Craig Wilson looked in the field before committing to him as anything more than a spot starter against lefties. Last night, Wilson went 2 for 4 and played solid defense behind a typically groundball-heavy start from Chien-Ming Wang. After the game, Torre said Wilson looked good both at the plate and in the field and would start again this afternoon against the righty Marcum. Here's hoping Wilson will continue to impress Torre and take over the starting first-base job on a full-time basis. Jason Giambi, who was removed in the seventh inning of Tuesday's game and missed last night's game due to leg cramps, will start at DH this afternoon. Sal Fasano, who last caught Lidle when both were playing for the Phillies against the Yankees in late June, will give Jorge Posada a much needed day off in this triple-digit heat. The result should look something like this:
L - Damon
R - Jeter
L - Giambi
R - Rodriguez
L - Abreu
R - Wilson
S - Cabrera
R - Cairo
R - Fasano
Not to bad for a house-money, day-game-after-night-game line-up. Meanwhile, Robinson Cano is expected to return to the team on Tuesday. There's something in the air, and it ain't the humidity.