For the first time in nearly a decade, the Dodgers and Yankees find themselves battling on the Sunday Night Baseball stage.
The last time these two teams met up for an ESPN Sunday night game was on June 27, 2010. The Yankees defeated the Dodgers 8-6 in an extra inning contest. Robinson Cano hit a 2-run homer off George Sherrill in the 10th to seal the deal.
Here is how the starting lineups looked for both teams on that date.
Things are much different for both these teams since then — 13 of the 18 players who started that game are now retired. From the lineup, Brett Gardner is the only Yankees player still in pinstripes while Clayton Kershaw and Russell Martin are the only Dodger constants. Clayton Kershaw started in the SNB game back in 2010 and he will get the nod for this Sunday’s contest as well.
Alright, back to the present.
This game has “national coverage” written all over it — east coast versus west coast, breakout versus veteran pitcher, MVP candidate players, potential World Series preview. Come 4 p.m., all eyes will be on this game.
The series is riding on who wins tonight, since each squad has one game a piece through two games. The first game was almost no competition, as the Yanks handed the Dodgers a huge 10-2 loss. Then the Dodgers escaped a Yankees ninth inning threat on Saturday afternoon to win 2-1.
Sunday night’s pitching matchup is a very interesting one, since both starting pitchers are curveball experts.
Clayton Kershaw is most known for his dangerous curveball. There are almost no words to describe the beauty of Kershaw’s curve.
Clayton Kershaw, Soul Stealing 73mph Curveball.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 21, 2019
"Did you see that shit?" pic.twitter.com/vBT1Bv6q92
Though Kershaw’s curveball isn’t at the same level as years past, it is still his most effective pitch to get batters out. His K percentage (43%) and put away percentage (30%) when throwing curves are better than any of his other pitches. You will also find batters swinging and missing on his curveballs 38 percent of the time.
Domingo Germán is having a great season. It’s his first full year as a starting pitcher and he is not having trouble with the curve. Our friends over at Pinstripe Alley wrote a piece on Germán’s curveball earlier this month.
Throughout Germán’s first few years with the Yankees in which he bounced up and down from Triple-A, the spin rate on his curve never exceeded the high 2400’s or 2500’s. This year, his arm has been stretched out and month by month his spin rate has increased ... The spin rate on Germán’s curveball in August this season is average 2640 revolutions per minute, higher than ever in his career.
The @Yankees Domingo German Ks the #Orioles Trey Mancini with a nearly perfect 12-6 curveball (6:10 spin tilt). #Yankees pic.twitter.com/gDUwjq3wiW— Michael Augustine (@AugustineMLB) August 14, 2019
Germán uses his curveball more generously than Kershaw does. In fact, the curveball is his most used pitch, throwing it 37 percent of the time. Kershaw’s killer curve is used more sparingly, making up only 17 percent of his pitches. The lefty uses a four-seamer and slider the most, but busts out the curve to end at-bats.
Matt Vasgersian, Jessica Mendoza, Alex Rodriguez and Buster Olney join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. Coverage will start at 3:00 p.m. PT and the game will begin promptly at 4:05 p.m. There are no blackout restrictions for this broadcast.
The ESPN team will celebrate MLB Players Weekend in their own way, with some custom Under Armour sneakers.
Also, Dodgers MVP candidate Cody Bellinger will be mic’d up for some in-game fun.
Special thanks to ESPN’s Matt Vasgersian for chatting with me about Sunday’s matchup.