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If nothing else this week, we should see some good pitching matchups in Oakland. The Yankees are trotting out Javy Vazquez, who’s looking to have a rebound start, Phil Hughes, who’s looking to build on a pretty solid start, and CC Sabathia who’s just been rolling so far this season.

They’ll be opposed by young lefty Gio Gonzalez, veteran Ben Sheets, and another young lefty, Dallas Braden. All three have had early season success.

Gonzalez sports a solid 3.38 ERA (120 ERA+) despite a shaky 1.594 WHIP. He’s given up 10.1 H/9 and 4.2 BB/9, but he’s struck out 9.3 per nine while allowing just one homer in 10.2 innings (0.8 HR/9). Because of the impressive strikeout totals (11) and his ability to keep the ball in the park, his FIP is sitting pretty at 3.59. However, Gonzalez has a very high BABIP (.366), tRA (5.28, 78 tRA+), and what is likely an unsustainable strand rate (83.3%, league average is typically just around 71%). The Yankees are just the type of offense that could correct the low ERA and high strand rate.

After missing 2009 due to injury, Ben Sheets has had an odd 17 innings. His WHIP is gaudy at 1.706 and he’s walked more batters–10–than he’s struck out–8. Like Gonzalez, though, he’s given up just one homer so his ERA is sparkling at 2.65 (152+). Also like Gonzalez, Sheets has a high strand rate. In fact, it’s identical to Gio’s. Ben’s FIP is also not so great at 4.61. Having pitched in the NL for his whole career, Sheets has only faced current Yankees 29 times and he’s done pretty well against them. Obviously, that’s way too small a sample and doesn’t tell us much. Regardless, I’m excited to see Sheets work. When healthy, he’s one of the best in the game.

Of these three, Braden has pitched best. His ERA is 2.70; his WHIP is a ridiculous 0.750, and his K/BB is a fabulous 5.33. Braden’s FIP is a more than solid 3.18 and his strand rate is 73.8, which is showing us he hasn’t gotten “lucky” as of yet. That is, when batters have gotten on, he’s kept them there at a just above league average rate. However, Braden’s BABIP against is .198, which could easily be corrected against the Yankees. It’s worth nothing that his tRA+ is 130, though, so he hasn’t been getting hit too hard yet. Again, the Yankees could change that.

As for the Yankees starters, Javy has pitched well against the current A’s, though Coco Crisp and Daric Barton have had success against him.

Likewise, CC has pitched quite well against Oakland’s current lineup.

Due to limited time in the Majors, Phil Hughes has only faced seven of the current A’s.

The A’s pitchers have kept runs from scoring, though two of their three starters this weekend seem to have gotten a bit lucky so far in 2010. They’ll be facing the league’s top offense that has hit well against good pitchers and has humiliated average ones. As for Oakland’s offense, it’s been middle of the pack (10th in the AL with a .683 team OPS) and the Yankees’ starters have been great. New York should be able to take the series, but if Oakland’s pitchers keep dodging bullets, the story of the Yankees’ first trip to the Left Coast could be much different.

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