Joe Girardi and the Yankees stumbled to the finish line and lost the Division to the Rays
I will be the first one to tell you that I heavily blasted Joe Girardi and his strange moves that only helped the New York Yankees stumble to a 13-17 finish over the last month of the season. His plan was for his team to get healthy and be prepared for the postseason and not shoot for the American League East Division Title and face the Texas Rangers in the playoffs. Many of his moves include bringing in Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre in high leverage situations, benching half the team in must win games, ineffectively using the bullpen and bench, etc.
They would have a two-and-a-half game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays in the middle of a four game series against said team at home. They would then proceed to 3-8 over their final 11 games. The Rays, too, stumbled and the Yankees would have a half game lead going into the final series against the Boston Red Sox. They would drop two of three at Fenway to finish second in the AL East to the Rays and were forced to enter the postseason as the Wild Card.
So instead of having home-field advantage throughout the American League Playoffs, the Yanks were forced to hit the road against the Minnesota Twins and would have to do so in every round should they win, and they have never made it past the Division Series as the Wild Card. Since the American League lost the All-Star Game, they wouldn’t have home-field during the World Series. If they Yankees are to win the World Series, they would become only the third team to win the World Series without home-field advantage at all during the playoffs in the Wild Card era (The other two are the 2003 Marlins and the 2006 Cardinals.)
The Yankees would respond to limping into the playoffs by sweeping the Minnesota Twins and in convincing fashion. Their starters, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes, all won and had a combined 2.25 ERA. The offense, which slumped in September, especially with runners in scoring position, hit .314 and .375 with runners in scoring position while averaging 5.6 runs per game, and outscored the Twins 17-7.
Meanwhile, the Rangers and Rays are deadlocked. The Rangers won the first two games in Tampa Bay, but could not close out the series at home in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. So, the winner of tonight’s deciding Game Five will be forced to use their ace. The winner will not be able to use Cliff Lee or David Price until Game Three at Yankee Stadium.
This is a HUMONGOUS advantage for the Yankees. The winner will only be able to use their ace at least once: Game Three and Game Seven. Unfortunately for them, it will be tough for it to even be a Game Seven as they would have to win two more games besides Game Three. Starting someone other than Lee or Price against Sabathia is a big advantage for New York.
Another main criticism of Girardi is avoiding Cliff Lee in a short series. However, this has worked out huge for him and the Yankees, as they could face him only once. They could finish off the series in five or six games and not having to use Sabathia so he will be ready to take on Roy Halladay or Tim Lincecum in Philadelphia or San Francisco for Game One of the 2010 World Series.