October 15, 2010

Yankees-Rangers ALCS preview

The Yankees are eight wins away from repeating as champions. After dispatching the Twins in three easy games, the Yankees will face the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers almost fell apart against the Rays in the ALDS, but a 2010-ALCS-136pxheroic performance by Cliff Lee in Game 5 earned them the franchise’s first ever postseason series victory. Now they’ll face a team that’s eliminated them three times in the postseason.

Head to Head:
The Yankees and Rangers split eight regular season matchups evenly, but as I detail in this post, I’m taking the last series when the Rangers swept the Yankees with a green of salt.

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: CC Sabathia vs. C.J. Wilson 
This matchup is why I think the Yankees have the edge in the series. Because the Rangers used Lee in Game 5 of the ALDS, he was pushed back to Game 3 of the ALCS. Does Wilson have a chance against Sabathia? I don’t think so. And it looks like they’d meet again in Game 5 if necessary.

Game 2: Phil Hughes vs. Colby Lewis 
The way Hughes pitched in Game 3 of the ALDS gives me great confidence in him this series. Lewis did a nice job of shutting down the Rays in Game 3, but couldn’t go deep enough to clinch the series. I support Joe Girardi’s decision to throw Hughes in Game 2 at Texas because he proved this year he’s a road warrior. Plus, you might recall Hughes’ second start of his career was a memorable night in Texas.

Game 3: Cliff Lee vs. Andy Pettitte
This is the defining game of the series. Can the Yankees beat Cliff Lee, the starter who’s been as close to lights out as you can get in the postseason? Pettitte seems to be at full strength and is known for pitching in big postseason games. It’s worth noting he is the all-time postseason leader in wins. In addition, he’ll have the fans of Yankee Stadium behind him. Lee gets the slight edge, but it should be a great game to watch.

Game 4: Tommy Hunter vs. A.J. Burnett
I’ll be at this game, and I think this is when the fireworks could break out this series. When I think think of this matchup, all I see is Burnett’s straight fastball and Josh Hamilton’s pretty home run derby swing at Yankee Stadium. That’s scary. Hunter made one start against the Yankees this season, striking out eight over five innings and allowing nine base runners. I predict a total of 20 runs scored in this game.

Roster Notes:
The Yankees are using the same roster as they did in the ALDS, but they did mix up the rotation. Here’s a nice post from LoHud on Girardi’s thought process.

Yankees Have the Edge
To reiterate from my previous post, “I’d say the key is the starting pitching, and the fact that Lee is starting Game 3 — not Game 1.”

Yankees in five. W, W, L, W, W. CC Sabathia wins ALCS MVP once again. Hey, I nailed my ALDS prediction and my National League champion pick is still around.

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