Gonzalez poses challenge to lefties, A-Rod

The Yankees have a little bit of a problem on their hands.

Yankees vs. Miguel Gonzalez
Notable Hitters

Not only is Alex Rodriguez struggling at the plate, but the Orioles' Game 3 starter, Miguel Gonzalez, has arguably been their best pitcher in the latter part of the season.

And he has a good (albeit limited) handle on this Yankees lineup.

In the two times he’s faced the Yankees, Gonzalez has held four important hitters who are basically guaranteed to play -- Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira -- hitless. They are a combined 0-for-21 with 12 strikeouts against him.

Gonzalez was 6-2 with a 2.49 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in his last 10 starts. In 65 innings, he allowed only four home runs. That stretch includes a start in Yankee Stadium on August 31 in which he allowed no earned runs and four hits in seven innings.

What makes Gonzalez so tough?

As those numbers we noted on the Yankees quartet show, Gonzalez is able to get left-handed hitters out at a high rate. Gonzalez allowed three homers to lefties (Ichiro Suzuki, Eric Chavez, and Raul Ibanez) in the Bronx on July 30, but hasn’t yielded one to a lefty in his 10 starts since.

Gonzalez throws a fastball ranging from 91 to 94 miles-per-hour and keeps it away from lefties so that they can’t turn on it and drive it for power.

Miguel Gonzalez
Secondary Pitches vs. LHB

His secondary pitches -- a curveball, slider, changeup, and split-fingered fastball -- have improved significantly over the course of the season.

They’ve been valuable both early and late in at-bats and have neutralized the edge that a lefty would have against him.

Lefties are hitting .229 against Gonzalez in his last 10 starts. That includes the Yankees lefties going 2-for-18 with eight whiffs against him.

Gonzalez vs. A-Rod

Gonzalez has never faced Rodriguez, so what can the Yankees slugger expect to see?

Alex Rodriguez
Last 2 Postseasons

As we noted last night the Orioles have done a nice job working the edges of the plate against A-Rod. They’ve thrown 40 of their 47 pitches to Rodriguez in this series to the inner-third (or off the inside corner) or the outer-third (or off the outside corner) of home plate.

Gonzalez is more apt to work the outside part of the plate, as the numbers show that he’s much more likely to work a right-handed hitter away than inside.

It makes sense for the Orioles to keep pitching Rodriguez away until he proves he can hit a pitch to that area with authority.

Since September 7 (including the first two games of this series), Rodriguez has seen 211 pitches on the outer-third of the plate, or off the outside corner.

Those 211 have resulted in 28 outs, six walks, and only two hits, both singles.

Narrow that even further to the 82 pitches that have been on the outside corner.

Those have resulted in 18 outs and just one measly hit.