Cincinnati Reds (51-44) vs. New York Yankees (47-47)
Friday, July 18, 2014: 7:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium
Tasked with making the first start of the proverbial second half for the Reds, Mike Leake takes to the mound at Yankee Stadium for the first time in his career. While the ghosts of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig may not surround the same hallowed ground that the “House that Ruth Built” once stood on, the aura of the yard is still palpable.
For his career, Leake has been a much better pitcher away from the confines of Great American Ball Park. Unfortunately, Yankee Stadium plays small much in the same way that GABP does. Where Leake’s numbers take a dip historically has been in the second half. Granted, that could be construed as a young pitcher running out of fumes as the dog days of August and September approached.
Leake has been hit fairly hard in his three starts in the month of July, yielding at least nine hits in all of them. After a brilliant month of May in which he posted an ERA just a shade over two, Leake has seen his share of excellent starts, and poor ones.
Benefitting from the rash of injuries that has struck the Yankees starting rotation, Phelps has made the most of his opportunity. Even though he has not picked up a win since June 19, the former Notre Dame product began his year in relief before stepping into a starting role.
Take it as you will, but the last four times Phelps has started, the Yankees have found themselves on the losing side of the ballgame. In opposite of Leake, Phelps has been astoundingly better in front of the Bronx faithful by almost an entire two runs on his average. Pitching in a profoundly hitter-biased park, Phelps’ 3.11 ERA proves his ability to keep the ball out of the short porches. (He has yielded 11 home runs in 124 innings at home, compared to 21 home runs in 151 innings on the road.)
Phelps has faced the Redlegs only once in his career thus far, back in 2012 as a member of the Yankees’ bullpen. He would pitch two innings and allow a single run (which was unearned) while walking one and striking out three.
With the addition of the designated hitter to the Reds lineup, they will add a bat that previously would not be available under National League rules. These two clubs will begin their three-game set Friday night at 7:05 p.m. during what should be a pristine summer night.