New York Yankees ALDS Matchups: Who Would Be the Bombers Best Opponent?
The Yankees are starting to get a little bit of momentum.
They have won six of their last eight games since they returned home with a series split against the Orioles. The Yankees will wrap up their series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night before playing a series with the Oakland A's.
The Yankees also got a boost with the return of Andy Pettitte on Wednesday afternoon. Pettitte got his fourth win of the season, his first since returning from the DL.
I don't see how the Yankees won't be playing in October if they can continue this roll.
Holding off the Orioles will be a challenge because they continue to play solid baseball this month and they are still in the lead of the AL Wild Card race.
If the Yankees were to win the AL East, which I still think they will do, and get to the playoffs, who would you want them to face in the American League Division Series?
What team in the American League would be the best possible matchup for the Bombers if they get to October?
Let's find out from all the possible contenders.
Chicago White Sox
2012 record: White Sox 6-2
Former Yankee Robin Ventura's first year as White Sox skipper has been a good one as his club continues to hold onto their lead in the AL Central over the Tigers.
The White Sox in 2012 have given the Yankees a handful of problems. They split the series with them at Yankee Stadium and swept the Bombers at U.S. Cellular Field.
Adam Dunn would be a problem to face as he has completely turned himself around with a 40-home run season.
The pitching could be a problem with Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd and Francisco Liriano likely the rotation that a team would see in the playoffs.
Honestly, I'd be a little worried if the Yankees saw Chicago in the first round.
2012 record: Yankees 6-4
The Yankees have seen the Tigers twice in the ALDS, and in both series, the Yankees' season ended at the hands of Jim Leyland's team.
The Tigers started their run to the 2006 World Series by knocking off the Yankees in four games.
We all remember last October where the Tigers came to Yankee Stadium in Game 5 and knocked off the top-seeded Yankees 3-2.
The Tigers are two games back of the White Sox in the AL Central with 14 games to go, so Detroit has plenty of time to try and jump Chicago for the division.
In the Wild Card, Detroit is five games back, so their best bet for October is to try and repeat as division champions.
The Yankees have had some success against Detroit in 2012, but we've seen what Detroit does against the Yankees in a short series.
You throw 2011 MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander twice in a series and it's always an issue.
Because the Tigers always find ways to give the Yankees fits in October, I want no part of Detroit in another ALDS series again.
2012 record: Yankees 4-3
The last time the Yankees saw the Texas Rangers in the playoffs, they saw their 2010 season end at Arlington in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
Right now, the Rangers are the team to beat in the American League.
Over the last two seasons they have been the AL representative in the World Series, despite losing the Fall Classic both times.
Even so, Ron Washington's group has developed into a powerhouse and a force.
Their offense with Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz is scary.
The pitching, especially the rotation, is where it gets interesting.
Yu Darvish could likely be the Game 1 starter, and he's been as good as advertised for Texas, striking out over 200 batters.
The Yankees have had success against Matt Harrison and Ryan Dempster, the latter being a pitcher the Yankees thought about trading for back in July.
Derek Holland could be a factor as he pitched well for Texas in relief back in the 2010 ALCS against the Bombers.
Right now though, the Rangers have the best record in the AL at 88-60. If Texas finishes with the best record they could see the Orioles if they win the Wild Card.
If the A's win the Wild Card, then you likely would see Texas play the White Sox because Chicago has the worst record of the division winners at 81-67.
I'm not saying I wouldn't want to see Texas in the ALDS, but I think if the Yankees ever see Texas, it would likely be in an ALCS rematch of two years ago.
2012 record: A's 4-3
This weekend's series at Yankee Stadium could end up being an ALDS matchup if Oakland wins the Wild Card or sneaks up on Texas and takes the AL West.
They are currently four games back from Texas, but I think they have a better chance of beating out the Orioles for the Wild Card.
When you look at the Oakland roster, there aren't too many names that jump out at you as far as superstars go.
But guys like Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes have been solid in the lineup, leading the team in both average and home runs.
The pitching is what has lead Oakland through most of 2012 with Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker carrying the load.
This weekend's series will definitely have that October playoff feel because both teams need to win every game in their quest for the postseason.
If Oakland ends up winning the Wild Card and beating out Baltimore, they could be the Yankees opponent when the ALDS comes around.
Seeing how the Yankees play Oakland in meaningful games is what really makes this weekend's series intriguing.
Los Angeles Angels
2012 record: Yankees 5-4
This is the dark horse candidate of the playoffs.
The Angels are 7.5 back in the AL West and are in third place. In all likelihood they probably won't win the West unless both Texas and Oakland have major collapses in the next two weeks.
However, they are still very much alive in the AL Wild Card race, sitting 3.5 games behind the Orioles and A's.
It has been a very disappointing season for Mike Scioscia's group given the fact that they spent a ton of money to bring in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
They also traded for Zack Greinke at the trade deadline. He has been much better as of late after struggling at first with his new team.
Because the Angels got off to a really tough start, they may have dug themselves too much of a hole to get out of, although they still have the outside chance of catching Baltimore and Oakland in the Wild Card.
But if the Angels sneak in, given the Yankees Yankees track record against them in ALDS matchups (the Yankees lost in 2002 and 2005), they probably are hoping Baltimore and Oakland block them.
Best Candidate for Yankees in ALDS?
Since the Yankees can't play the Orioles or Rays in the first round if they make the playoffs, they get left out of this.
Out of the five possible teams listed here, my gut reaction to who would be the best matchup for the Yankees would be their opponents this weekend, the Oakland A's.
It's not because Oakland is a bad team and they are terrible. The four-game of the Yankees by Oakland over the summer was extremely impressive and showed that the A's are for real in 2012.
I just think Chicago, Detroit, Texas and Los Angeles would not be most ideal opponents for the Yankees in a five-game series, whereas I think the Yankees could handle Oakland
However, there's a really good chance that the Orioles end up winning the Wild Card over Oakland, which would take out that possibility.
If Oakland gets knocked out by Baltimore, the Orioles would likely play the Rangers if Texas holds onto the best record in the AL, and that would leave the Yankees likely playing the winner of the AL Central, the Tigers or White Sox.
If I had to choose between those two, I would rather face the White Sox over Detroit in the ALDS.
But in no way do I feel confident that the Yankees could easily roll in a five-game series and advance against the White Sox.
With two weeks left until the postseason, the playoff picture is still developing, and a lot can change before we see Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.