W2W4: Yankees at White Sox (August 21)

Ivan Nova Stats to Watch

Nova has lost three of his last four decisions and is walking into a favorable hitter’s park in U.S. Cellular Field having allowed 22 earned runs in his last 23 1/3 innings.

However, he’s made four starts against the White Sox over the last three seasons, including two on the road, and allowed only one run in each.

Only two pitchers have had longer streaks against the White Sox from the start of their careers, in the Live Ball Era -- Hall-of-Famer Satchel Paige(1948 to 1952) and Angels starter Jered Weaver (2007 to 2009), each lasting five games.

Nova’s teammate, Phil Hughes, had a four-start streak from the start of his career that was snapped when he allowed two runs against the White Sox on July 1.

The pitch to watch is Nova’s curveball, which was at its best against the Blue Jays two starts ago, netting nine outs and a 74 percent strike rate. It wasn’t quite as good against the Rangers, netting five outs, two baserunners, and a 54 percent strike rate.

Francisco Liriano Stats To Watch

Liriano is 1-4 in the regular season against the Yankees, including a five-run, 2 1/3 innings loss on April 17.

He has a strong strikeout history against two Yankees hitters -- Curtis Granderson (13 strikeouts in 30 regular-season plate appearances) and Mark Teixeira (10 in 23).

Given Joe Girardi’s like of the matchups, Jayson Nix (4-for-9 with two walks against Liriano) may get a start. In his 11 plate appearances against Liriano, Nix has gotten to two strikes give times, but has never whiffed.

Liriano’s issue is walks -- he’s walked 20 Yankees in 38 2/3 innings against them, dating back to 2009.

For a pitcher like Liriano, the most important thing to watch is his first-pitch strike rate. For the season, it’s just 53 percent, which ranks among the worst in the majors.

When Liriano gets ahead of a hitter 0-1, the hitter has a 24 percent chance of reaching base. When it’s 1-0, he reaches base 42 percent of the time.

Cano struggling vs. lefties

Robinson Cano was hitless in two at-bats versus left-handed pitching on Monday and is 1-for-19 against lefties dating back to August 11.

Cano is making outs on hittable pitches. Of his 18 outs in that stretch, 14 have come against pitches that Pitch F/X deemed to be in the strike zone.

Prior to this slump, Cano was hitting .291 (34-for-117) when an at-bat against a lefty ended with a pitch in the strike zone.

Perhaps a sign that Cano is due to break out: Of the 28 hacks that he’s taken at pitches from lefties in the strike zone, he’s only missed one.

But the defense has turned all 13 of his balls in play into outs. That’s not a typical success rate.

How do you get A.J. Pierzynski out?

A.J. Pierzynski in 2012

Pierzynski was 3-for-5 in Monday's win, and is having a career season, hitting .298 with 23 home runs. Pierzynski ranks among baseball's best low-ball hitters, so it is imperative that if Nova works him down, he locates out of the strike zone.

Pierzynski's vulnerability against right-handers is that he likes to chase the outside pitch. Throw him a pitch off the outside corner, and he'll swing at it 41 percent of the time.

But if you catch too much plate with your offering, he's liable to crush it, as the chart on the right shows.