This Friday night, at Rangers Stadium, the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers will take the field for Game 1 of the ALCS.
Both teams promise a battle with the hopes of winning a chance to play in the 2010 World Series.
On the mound, both Texas and New York are starting left-handed pitchers, who also share similar abbreviated first names that begin with the letter ‘C’, but that is about it.
For the Rangers, sending out 29-year old CJ (Christopher John) Wilson to face the Yankees ace and CY Young candidate CC (Carsten Charles) Sabathia will be the biggest test for Wilson.
Wilson is a solid number two starter, who gets overlooked because he follows the phenomenal Cliff Lee in the Rangers rotation. This season, Wilson posts a 15-8 record, with a 3.35 ERA, giving-up 36 doubles, two triples, and 10 home-runs pitching a total of 204 innings. Wilson has 170 strikeouts in 2010, but 93 walks total is way too high to give him ace status
Wilson spent his first four years in the bullpen for Texas, a lefties specialist who has shifted into the starting role beyond expectations. Wilson still pounds lefty batters and his pattern is no secret. Wilson mostly throws a two-seam fastball, one cutter outside and usually finishes off with a slider for the strikeout.
Wilson’s formula is not effective on right-handed batters, as all 10 home-runs came from this side, compared to zero against lefties.
The Yankees will look for Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Marcus Thames, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher to cause chaos for Wilson as all solid from the right side. Makes you wonder if Joe Girardi will bench Curtis Granderson or Brett Gardner because both bat left, but both are almost too productive to not have them playing.
It speaks volumes of the fact that the Rangers skipper Ron Washington trusts Wilson to open up the ALCS against Sabathia. Washington knew with Lee pitching Game five of the ALDS that he would not be available for Friday, unless Washington was hopped up and forgot. (Kidding!)
For the Yankees, having Sabathia on the mound, a certified CY Young ace is just a dream come true. Sabathia has a 21-7 record, with a 3.18 ERA, allowing 20 home-runs, 28 doubles and two triples over 237.2 innings. Sabathia has thrown two complete games, striking out 197 and walking 74 batters.
Sabathia is an innings eating horse for New York and whether he is in the Bronx or away doesn’t matter much. Sabathia is one of the games best and he thrives under the bright lights of the postseason.
Sabathia has carried the 2010 Yankees through peaks and valleys all season, both as a player, teammate and a friend.
Anyone with a brain knows that Sabathia should win this game easily if he gets some insurance runs from his Yankees teammates. Alex Rodriguez was unusually quiet in the ALDS and as one of the best right-handed hitters ever, look for Arod to have a HUGE night.