October 14, 2010

Olney’s Key to ALCS: The pen is mightier

ESPN’s Buster Olney offered his take on both the ALCS and NLCS this morning on SportsCenter. This might surprise you, but Olney said the Giants’ and Yankees’ left-handed specialists (LOOGY*) will give them the edge in their respective series.

Before I get into that analysis, I’d like to quickly note Olney’s prediction bodes well for my preseason World Series prediction: Yankees-Giants. Thank you. Ah, thank you.

One of my Twitter followers suggested this:

The fact that the closer is not the key to winning is a joke. Last year [7] closers faltered and one didn't. The one won.

Nice point. However, it’s worth noting Mariano Rivera’s worst ERA against any opponent this season was 5.79 against the Rangers.

I don’t think the key to the series is just one reliever. I’d say the key is the starting pitching, and the fact that Cliff Lee is starting Game 3 — not Game 1.

If the Yankees can put the Rangers in a 2-0 hole going into Lee’s start, the Rangers will have lost all their momentum from winning their first ever postseason series. And I’m quite confident CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes can duplicate their ALDS performances to put the Rangers in a hole.

I was doing some research on both team’s pitching, and I came across some pretty interesting splits.

Reg. Season Splits Yankees Rangers
Starters ERA 4.35 4.23
Bullpen ERA 3.47 3.38

Both teams have great pitching. But I think since the Yankees have the edge early in the series, the Rangers will have difficulties making a comeback.

*For the clueless people staring at the acronym LOOGY, it stands for Lefty One-Out GuY. Creative, eh?

Also, here’s the video for my headline’s reference.

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