ALDS: New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers Preview
New York Yankees
Game 1- CC Sabathia
Game 2- Ivan Nova
Game 3- Freddy Garcia
Game 4*- CC Sabathia
Game 5*- Ivan Nova
Sabathia Scouting Report:
One could make the argument that Sabathia was the second best pitcher in the American League this season, indicated by his 2.88 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and 3.02 xFIP. However, Sabathia allowed a 23.1 percent line drive this season, which is his highest since 2003.
Expect him to feature his fastball (averaged 93.8 mph this season) at a 60 percent rate along with his slider (82.4 mph with usage at 21.3 percent) and change-up (86.7 mph with usage at 13.4 percent). He will only use his curveball sparingly.
Sabathia will not use his change-up against left-handed batters, but he does employ his slider about 40 percent of the time to lefties. When he is ahead in the count with two strikes, he will feature the slider over 60 percent of the time, but that drops to 16.7 percent when the count reaches 3-2.
Against right-handed batters, Sabathia will feature his change-up usually later in the count and most often when it is 2-1 (27.6 percent). He will use his slider primarily with two strikes, while he will only flip in a curveball to start an at-bat.
As expected with runners on base, Sabathia will throw more off-speed pitches in different counts and will throw his slider just as much as his fastball with runners in scoring position and outs.
The one concern the Yankees should have is whether Sabathia’s extra days of rest will affect his fastball command early on, and it is worth keeping an eye on in the early innings.
SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
RF Nick Swisher
DH Jorge Posada
C Russell Martin
LF Brett Gardner
The Tigers do not feature a left-handed starter, so Posada figures to be the starting DH for the series, but I would not be surprised to see Montero get a start in one of the games if Posada struggles early. Despite his struggles this season, Posada does have a .818 OPS and wRC+ of 118 against left-handed pitchers, but Montero would still be the better option.
Jeter has played well in the second half of the season, but he is still a ground ball machine (62.4 percent) and provides little power (.092 slugging).
Brett Gardner should be hitting leadoff because of his speed and high walk rate. His weak September was due to a low BABIP of .237 even though he produced a line drive rate of 28.6 percent.
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi switched Cano and Teixeira's spots in the lineup, but that move will have little impact in the postseason. Rodriguez, who has been bothered with knee and thumb problems, should be hitting fifth, and his .157 ISO during September is a sign that he could be a black hole in terms of production throughout the playoffs.
Cano is hitting with the same power he did last season, but his walk rate dropped three percentage points because of a chase rate above 40 percent. Teixeira is the same power hitter he has always been, but the shift most teams have employed against him has resulted in a drop in his overall batting average. Martin will get on base from the bottom of the lineup, but he showed signs of wearing down in August with a season 21.9 percent strikeout rate and a wRC+ of 75.
RHP Mariano Rivera
RHP David Robertson
RHP Rafael Soriano
RHP Cory Wade
LHP Boone Logan
RHP AJ Burnett
RHP Hector Noesi
RHP Luis Alaya
The Yankees have one of the strongest bullpens in the postseason, especially in the later innings.
Despite his over-publicized one-week struggle in August, Rivera has been as good as ever in 2011. In fact, his average fastball and cutter velocity increased by .5 mph since last season.
Robertson’s 13.50 K/9 makes him one of the best relievers in baseball, and he was even tougher on left-handed hitters this season with a 1.90 xFIP. Soriano had trouble with his control this year posting a 4.12 BB/9 up from 2.02 BB/9 in 2010. Girardi has used him for a full inning, but he is best suited for work against right-handed hitters. His 5.05 xFIP against lefties was ugly, but 3.64 xFIP indicates it is his strength.
Logan, who has been maligned by Yankees fans, won’t get much work since the Tigers are a primarily right-handed offense. However, he has a xFIP of 3.12 against left-handed hitters and his ERA has been inflated by a .331 BABIP. Burnett will be used in any of the Yankees starters falters within the first three innings, but he might be a possibility to start game 4 if the Yankees are up 2-1. Luis Ayala and Noesi won’t pitch in games with a leads in the late innings.
Girardi has not been fooled by Ayala’s 2.09 ERA, and his xFIP of 4.15 more accurately represents his abilities. Wade is a control pitcher with a slow 89 mph curve and good change. He is prone to giving up home runs to left-handed hitters, but he will be brought in to face right-handed hitters to finish innings.