The Yankees Won't Be In for Much R&R on Their West Coast Trip

Nine games against top arms await the Yankees

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, May 27, 2011  |  Updated 11:07 AM EDT
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The Yankees Won't Be In for Much R&R on Their West Coast Trip

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King Felix welcomes the Yankees to his dominion.

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The rhythms of the baseball season are such that it feels like it has been ages since the Yankees played a game.

It has only been since Wednesday afternoon, but that feeling is only going to grow as the team waits until 10:10 Friday night to get back on the field. It is time for another west coast swing, which means a lot of late nights for Yankee fans and a lot of tough assignments for Yankee hitters.

Over the next nine games, the Yankees will be facing nothing but good starting pitchers. Things get rolling on Friday night when the Mariners throw Michael Pineda, the best rookie starter in the AL, against them and keep heating up from there.

They'll face Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas in the other two games in Seattle before moving on to the trio of Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez in Oakland. There's a day off before the Angels series starts, which is good because they'll need all their strength to finish with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.

That list includes five of the top nine pitchers in the American League according to Baseball Reference's tabulation of WAR, six of the top 11 starters in FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and, non-statistically speaking, the nastiest pitchers the game has to offer right now. Vargas is the worst of the lot and he's riding a streak that's seen him allow one run or fewer in three of his last four starts.

This would seem to be coming at the worst possible time for the Yankees. The last 10 days have seen their bats wake up after a serious cold spell and seven wins in the last nine games feels like the start of a run that would quiet a lot of concerns about where this season is heading.

Putting a halt to that roll would be painful, especially since the Red Sox look like they are finally all systems go after their own rocky start to the year. Despite the evidence presented above, there's no reason to think the roll is going to hit full stop on the west coast.

As good as the pitching is in all three stops, the offenses play like they are facing their own staffs every night. Even if you assume the worst about the Yankee offense, they don't figure to be getting blown out to the point that a comeback won't be possible.

And, to continue beating a dead horse, the Yankee offense is better than most of the teams these pitchers have used to pad their records. We gripe and bellyache about them because that's just what you do over the course of a long season, but the Yankees keep showing that there's thunder in their bats.

The matchups should make a for a fun road swing, assuming you can stay up late enough to catch the games.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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