(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)
This afternoon’s game at Wrigley Field kicks off the Yankees’ foray into National League ballparks. Unfortunately for the suddenly resurgent Jorge Posada, that means the Yankees will be without the DH for nine of the next 15 games. However, the team won’t be completely hamstrung in those contests. In addition to CC Sabathia, who has a respectable line of .258/.265/.381 for a pitcher, the Yankees’ rotation now also includes Brian Gordon, a converted outfielder with over 4,000 minor league plate appearances.
Since interleague play began in 1997, Yankees’ pitchers haven’t had much success swinging the bat. Over that period, 51 different hurlers have come to the plate, but only 16 have recorded at least one hit. Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina lead all Yankees’ pitchers with five hits during the interleague era, but they needed 43 and 29 at bats, respectively, to do it. Pettitte is also the only hurler with more than one extra base hit and more than two RBIs.
Yankees’ Pitchers in Interleague Play, Ranked by PAs
Note: Pitchers with at least seven plate appearances displayed.
As evident from the cumulative statistics, Yankees’ pitchers haven’t had a standout game in interleague play. The best individual performance belongs to Mussina, who went 2-3 with a run scored against the San Diego Padres on June 23, 2002. Mussina’s two hit performance remains the only time that a Yankees’ pitcher recorded more than one hit in an interleague game. In terms of WPA, however, Mariano Rivera ranks as the top dog. The great closer’s bases loaded walk against the Mets’ Francisco Rodriguez on June 28, 2009 contributed an RBI and a WPA of 0.081, adding another distinction to the game in which Rivera recorded his 500th save.
If past performance is an indication, the Yankees shouldn’t expect much of an offensive contribution from their pitchers during interleague play. Then again, staying off the bases might actually be for the best. Just ask Chien-Ming Wang.