W2W4: Royals at Yankees (May 23)

Andy Pettitte Stats To Watch

Pettitte hasn’t lost to the Royals since 1999. His eight straight wins against the Royals mark the longest regular-season winning streak by a Yankees pitcher against the Royals.

Similar to his last start, Pettitte will face a lineup that is favorable to him. The Royals have a .300 on-base percentage against left-handed pitching, which ranks ninth among the 14 AL teams. They also have only three home runs against left-handed pitching, four fewer than any other AL team.

It will be interesting to see if the Royals bench first baseman Eric Hosmer, who has greatly struggled against lefties this season. Pettitte has held lefties to two hits in 18 at-bats in his two starts, using his slider/cutter to record 10 of those outs.

Hosmer, hitting .133 against lefties this season, has been unable to square up against one with any regularity. Of the 38 balls he’s hit against a lefty pitcher, only three have been line drives (two of which turned into outs).

Will Smith Stats To Watch

Smith’s debut means it’s time to whip out the stat about the Yankees against starters making their debut. They’ve won the last two games in which the opposing starter was making his debut (including once this year against the Orioles, and Wei-Yin Chen), but had lost the six prior to that.

This will be Smith’s 100 professional appearance on the mound. In his 99 minor league games, he had an ERA of 3.97, and a strikeout-to-walk rate of better than three-to-one (largely due to a 76-strikeout, six-walk season in rookie ball).

The Royals have not had a starting pitcher pitch more than five innings in his major-league debut since Jimmy Gobble in 2003. The last five to debut have averaged 4.4 innings between them.

Jeter Meter

Derek Jeter is in a “slump” against left-handed pitching. Since homering in Kansas City on May 4, Jeter is 1-for-7 against lefties, dropping his batting average against them to a still other-worldly .511.

All other Yankees combined are hitting .251 against left-handed pitching.

More Pop Needed

Andruw Jones has not yet been the weapon against left-handed pitching that he was last season, when he hit .286 with eight home runs.

Jones has made his share of loud outs against lefties though. He has three line-drive outs against left-handed pitching this season, matching his total from 2011, and his five outs on balls hit an estimated 330 feet or longer, are one shy of his number from last season.

Eager Swinger

Jeff Francoeur, who entered this series with only one home run, has homered in each of the first two games of this series.

He also enters 7-for-14 in his career against Pettitte, a tally that includes the 2005 and 2010 postseasons.

Francoeur likes to go up to the plate swinging. In his 14 plate appearances against Pettitte he’s seen only 37 pitches, with 10 of the turns ending in three pitches or fewer