Breaking down the ALDS, part one I looked at pure statistical numbers of both the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins.
Part two, is what I see as the pros and cons, which both teams before heading into Game One on Wednesday evening.
What are each team’s pros and cons?
Let’s state the obvious advantage for the Twins in having the home-field advantage, after posting 53-27 wins/losses at Target Field. Anything is better than having to start out in the Bronx for the Twins.
The Twins have been at New York’s mercy in both the regular and postseason forever. The chip on Minnesota’s shoulder can only make the players hungrier and the team should feed off this determination to win. Add that to a more experienced Twins ball club, who are familiar specifically with this situation. This can only help in determining a strategy to finally get past the Yankees.
The Twins biggest downfall is that is all they do when playing the Yankees. Maybe watching game footage of the Tampa Bay Rays would get their confidence up, because the Twins are scared of the big, bad Yankees. If this doesn’t change the Twins should just wave the white flag now, as the Yankees will scorch any team who bows down to them.
New York Yankees
Please understand that being the guest is not a con for the Yankees, who have a 43-37 record on the road. The Yankees are either playing well or their not, no matter the stadium field they happen to be on.
On the season, the Yankees are 23-13 against AL Central teams and other then the Twins not much else goes on in the Central. Yes, the White Sox popped up for a few weeks but the Twins had little to worry about. The AL East teams do not have it as easy, as the division is so competitive and the Yankees and Rays were both beat-up down the stretch.
The Yankees bats hold the weight in this series, especially Alex Rodriguez who has personally demoralized the Twins. In the 128 games that A-Rod has faced the Twins in his career, he has a .322 batting average, with 115 RBI and 45 home runs. That is almost surreal and A-Rod is hitting well so expect a big series from him. Look for Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson to utilize their speedy legs on the basepaths.
The question of whether Robinson Cano can continue his dominant 2010 in the postseason will play a big part for the team. Cano has almost shutdown at the plate in past playoff appearances. Still, Cano is a different beast this season so look to see how the MVP candidate fares.
Everyone is talking about the Yankees pitching rotation, which would be incredible if CC Sabathia could pitch on a daily basis. See the Yankees have been sans Andy Pettitte for most of the second half; add that to an imploding AJ Burnett who’s issues run too deep to trust and Javier Vazquez’s demotion to the bullpen.
Vazquez came in on thin ice, and the Yankees did not take a chance with Javy, who could be very useful out of the pen if innings need to be eaten before getting to Mariano Rivera.
Pitching will be the biggest factor in who wins this series.
The only other starting pitching staff in question as much the Yankees is the Twins.
Fact is, Sabathia is a better ace than Francisca Liriano, who doesn’t throw a lot of strikes but can’t get ahead in the count enough to fan batters.
The Twins most consistent pitcher is Carl Pavano, who had some success last season against New York. Pavano will face Pettitte, who is the most successful postseason pitcher ever so it is wise to think Pettitte will be ready to go come Thursday night.
Looking at both bullpens, the Yankees are better with Wood, Joba, Robertson, and Mo.
The Twins can play baseball that is not the issue. It’s attitude and if that has not taken a complete 180-degree turn versus the Yankees they are doomed.