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The New York Yankees deserve a medal of some sort for hanging around the playoff race with all the injuries they've suffered this season. Somehow, the team has made due with players like Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, Jayson Nix and Travis Hafner.
This matchup, like the one discussed in the previous slide, would be a one-game playoff and an interesting one at that.
The Yankees offense has been pretty stagnant here in the 2013 season. However, they've brought Alfonso Soriano back into the fold, and they have benefited heavily from the return of players such as Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson.
Before we discuss these two as the X-factors in this matchup, we'll compare the two offenses.
The Indians hold a decisive advantage in the offensive battle. However, one has to consider the players the Yankees have heating up at just the right time.
Soriano returned to the Yankees for the first time since the 2003 season. In his 48 games this season with the Yanks, the 37-year-old has put together a successful campaign slashing .248/.302/.509 with 13 home runs, 44 RBI and 30 runs scored.
Granderson returned to the team at the beginning of August and has been a welcome addition to a team that seemed all but out of the AL playoff picture. In his 34 post-DL games, Granderson owns a .250/.361/.402 slash line with three home runs, eight doubles, 10 RBI and 17 runs scored.
Rodriguez joined the Yankees in August after spending the rest of the season on the shelf. In his 29 games with the team, Rodriguez has been arguably the most important mid-to-late season addition to any team in baseball.
Since returning to the team, the three-time MVP boasts a strong .286/.380/.448 slash line with four home runs, five doubles, 10 RBI and 15 runs scored.
These three players bring a much-needed power boost from both the left and right sides of the plate, making the Yankees a huge threat if their pitching holds up.
The Yankees have relied heavily on Hiroki Kuroda here in the 2013 season. With CC Sabathia seemingly falling off the face of the earth, Kuroda leads the team in ERA, WHIP, H/9, BB/9 and K/BB, making him the logical choice for a one-game playoff.
Here's how Masterson stacks up to the Bronx Bombers' ace
Kuroda does a masterful job of keeping the ball in the park, especially when you consider the fact that he makes roughly half of his starts in Yankee Stadium. As it stands, he bests Masterson in ERA, WHIP, BB/9 and K/BB while the two push in quality start percentage.
The 38-year-old Kuroda has yet to show his age, but Masterson has fared slightly better in his two outings against the Yankees this season than Kuroda did in his sole start against the Tribe.
Because of that, and the close nature of the head-to-head matchup outlined above, the starting pitching battle tips slightly in Masterson's favor.
The Yankees bullpen is anchored by the best closer in the history of Major League Baseball. Although he's been shaky of late, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which the Yankees fumble away a late-inning lead.
With that said though, the relievers who could take the mound prior to Mariano Rivera—outside of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes—are solid as well. Take a look at how the two bullpens stack up.
The Yankees own the bullpen matchup. They strike out batters at a higher rate, convert on more save opportunities and win at a higher percentage, all while allowing fewer walks and having a lower ERA.
If the Yankees get a lead and the bullpen takes over, it's unlikely that the Indians can rebound. Add in the Rivera factor in a save situation for the Yankees, and you can pretty much ensure a Yankee victory.
The Yankees may win the bullpen matchup, but until their offense proves that they can put it all together over a lengthy stretch of games, then there's no way to justify their ability to beat the Indians in a one-game playoff.
Cleveland wins a close one.