Phil Phranchise takes the mound against 28-year-old Joe Saunders.
The lefty had a breakout campaign in 2008, pitching 198 innings (91 more than his previous career high), chopping his career best with from 1.42 (2006) to 1.21. His opponents couldn't get under his sinker, slugging only .378 (career low), and the Angels' strong defense plus some luck cut his BABIP from .305 to .267. Normally I'd say that such a drop is unsustainable, but Saunders actually cut his line drive percentage from 20.7% to 15.4%. That might be a fluke, but it suggests that he's changed his approach in an effective way.
Saunders has picked up 2009 where he left off last season, tag-teaming with Jered Weaver to lead the staff. Don't expect a lot of walks or a lot of homers.
In fact, it'll be very interesting to see how Saunders, who has allowed less that a HR/9 in his career fairs at the Launching Pad in the Bronx. (For the record, I don't blame the park, I blame the ball and our pitchers).
What can I tell you about Phil Hughes? He flashed that high 90s fastball we've been waiting to see again since his start in Texas in 2007. He also threw far fewer 4-seamers than ever before, relying instead on his cutter and his improved curve.
05/03/09 1:05 PM EDT
|Los Angeles Angels||New York Yankees|
|Chone Figgins - 3B||Derek Jeter - SS|
|Maicer Izturis - SS||Johnny Damon - LF|
|Bobby Abreu - LF||Mark Teixeira - 1B|
|Torii Hunter - CF||Hideki Matsui - DH|
|Kendry Morales - 1B||Jorge Posada - C|
|Mike Napoli - C||Robinson Cano - 2B|
|Howie Kendrick - 2B||Melky Cabrera - RF|
|Juan Rivera - DH||Angel Berroa - 3B|
|Gary Matthews - RF||Brett Gardner - CF|