The 2015 season has been one of milestones and countdowns. After watching Alex Rodriguez hit home run no. 660 and beyond, the march to 3,000 hits took center stage and now here we are. After collecting two hits on Thursday night, A-Rod had a chance to hit no. 3,000 in the eighth inning, but Marlins reliever Sam Dyson decided he wanted no part in the history books and instead walked him on four pitches.
Ball 4. Stay tuned tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/8tEntCm8jc— Ryan Hatch (@ryanhatch) June 19, 2015
As understandable of a reaction as that can be, it's not something that should happen if the game doesn't actually call for it. Dyson may have been a bit wild on Thursday, but none of his pitches against A-Rod were even close:
Luckily, something like this can't happen indefinitely. At some point someone is going to have to face A-Rod in a high-leverage situation where they have to pitch to him and he'll eventually get his hit. Most pitchers will probably pitch to him under normal low-leverage situations anyway (at least I hope they will). As the Yankees head into a three-game series with the Tigers this weekend, let's see who is most likely to give up that final hit.
As luck would have it, the Detroit pitcher A-Rod has had the most success off of will be facing the Yankees on Friday. Justin Verlander was supposed to face the Reds on Thursday night, but the game was rained out and the team has decided to remain in rotation–which likely makes A-Rod very happy. The 39-year-old designated hitter has had a lot of success off Verlander over the length of his career, hitting .357 with 10 hits, a double, four home runs, nine RBI, and three strikeouts over 28 at-bats since 2006. The once-mighty Verlander has seemingly fallen apart over the last year. He had a non-Verlander season in 2014 and he started this year of on the disabled list. Friday's game will only be his second start of the year, making it likely that A-Rod faces a rusty pitcher who might throw him a mistake. Of all the pitchers the Tigers have, Verlander looks like a favorite to give up the 3,000th hit.
It's only too bad that David Price won't have the chancce to give up hit no. 3,000 to both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Of course, Price has mostly kept Rodriguez under control over the years with a .239 batting average against, 11 hits in 46 at-bats, four RBI, six walks, and 18 strikeouts–it's a good thing he got out of the AL East.
If A-Rod goes hitless on Friday, the Yankees face Alfredo Simon on Saturday. Simon has kept Rodriguez hitless in just seven at-bats and is having a strong 2.58-ERA and 3.47-FIP season, following the success he saw last year. Anibal Sanchez will start Sunday's game and the two have not matched up since 2006, when A-Rod went 0-3 against the 22-year-old rookie. Sanchez, however, has not been the same pitcher this year as he has a 4.65 ERA and 3.99 FIP, mainly because he's been victimized by the long ball.
As for the bullpen, Tigers closer Joakim Soria has given up three hits in six at-bats with one strikeout–a small sample size, for sure, but nothing to imply that he'll stop history from happening. In fact, it would appear that his pristine 2.45 ERA might not be so indicative of his talents in 2015 when you compare it to his 4.55 FIP. Reliever Al Alburquerque struck him out once and walked him twice, while Blaine Hardy and Ian Krol have faced him only once. Lefty Tom Gorzelanny has actually kept him hitless over eight at-bats with three strikeouts, so that might be a matchup to watch at some point (even though he's been terrible against everyone else). Neither Alex Wilson or Joba Chamberlain have faced A-Rod yet, but they both possess sub-.200 ERAs. Oh goodness, please let A-Rod get his hit off of Joba Chamberlain.
The Tigers will provide Rodriguez plenty of opportunity to make it into the history books...again. While Verlander giving it up might make the most sense, Joba might be the most deserving to have that happen to him. Hopefully we don't have another Dyson on our hands and we get to see the hit in front of the home crowd. After four games against the Tigers, the Phillies will be coming into town for a three-game set. Hopefully by that point we'll already be onto the next milestone.
Who do you think will be the pitcher to give it up? I'm calling Verlander, how about you?