Why the Yankees will Beat the Rangers
Before the ALDS, I predicted the Twins would beat the Yankees. I was very wrong. I put too much stock in the minor advantages the Twins possessed and glossed over the obvious talent gap in the starting lineup. I also doubted Andy Pettitte’s health and thusly gave the Twins’ rotation an edge that was completely hypothetical and as it turned out, nonexistent. And then there was that song which seemed to signify a higher purpose for the Twins than ALDS fodder for the Yanks. Thankfully, the Twinkies and the song about not calling them Twinkies can now be enjoyed as vanishing points in the rear-view mirror.
I won’t make the same mistake with the Rangers. The Yankees feature the better, deeper lineup, sport a starting-pitching advantage (it’s a push at the very least) in every game not featuring Cliff Lee, and Mariano already filled his decade’s quota for losses to the Rangers. These Yankees are healthy, they are rested and they are still awaiting Alex Rodriguez to make his mark on this postseason. The Yankees will win in five games and Alex will be the MVP (which I thought he earned last year). Cliff Lee will win his game, but he’ll be left watching the Yankees in the World Series as he contemplates his next contract.
Tempting reasons to pick the Rangers abound. They hit the snot out of the ball in Arlington, where they’ll host as many as four games. But almost all of those numbers include Josh Hamilton’s obscene comfort in his home ballpark. The last time I saw him he was tugging at the flak jacket protecting his rib cage as he walked back to the dugout after his sixth and final strikeout of the ALDS. If Hamilton recovers form during the course of the ALCS, the Yankees task becomes decidedly more difficult and I reserve the right to cower.
The Rangers send up have a righty-heavy lineup that dealt with David Price in the first round and figures to give CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte fits. In small samples, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Vladimir Guerrero feasted on lefties this year, sporting a cumulative slash of .338/.402/.525. I would ignore their teamwide struggles versus southpaws for much of the regular season as many of the players dragging those numbers down will not be on the roster.
Containing them is key to the Yankee victory and when Texas does win a game, I think it will be when this group does some damage in Yankee Stadium off Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee makes it stand up. Luckily, the other lefty starting for the Yankees is CC Sabathia and he is almost identically excellent against righties and lefties for his career and even better against righties this year. I don’t think Sabathia can keep this bunch off the scoreboard entirely, but I’m betting he neutralizes them sufficiently for the Yankee offense to win the games he pitches.
And that offense is mainly why I am picking the Yankees. In the ALDS, Curtis Granderson, the DH platoon of Thames and Berkman and Nick Swisher were good enough to sweep the Twins. When the team is struggling, they still manage runs. When the team is clicking, the runs come in bunches. In the final game versus the Twins, it looked to me like the Yankees were ready to get clicking. Cliff Lee is good enough to beat any offense at any time, but I don’t think the rest of the Rangers’ pitchers measure up to the depth and quality of the Yankee hitters.