MLB Playoff Predictions: Why The Texas Rangers Will Beat The New York Yankees
The American League Division Series has now concluded, and the New York Yankees are set to face the Texas Rangers in the ALCS. While the Yankees had a relatively easy time of advancing by sweeping the Minnesota Twins, the Tampa Bay Rays took the Rangers to the limit, making it a five game series.
The series, which is set to start on Friday, October 15, could go either way based on how both teams have been winning their respective games. That being said, it looks like the stage is being set for the Rangers going to their first World Series. They have the advantage going in, and for the following reasons, they are poised to win the American League Championship Series.
Speaking of experience, if there's one player who the Rangers can rely on in that regard, it's Lee. The ace of the staff won two of three games for the Rangers in the ALDS and did so pitching great baseball.
He played game five, so at most, the Rangers will only be able to use him twice. However, he has experience against the Yankees in this type of environment, so those two games look much better for the Rangers. Also, since he won't be pitching in Game 1, suddenly the matchup shifts from a Sabathia-Lee duel to a Hughes or Pettitte matchup, both of which could be more winnable games for Lee.
If one looks at both bullpens as a whole, the matchup seems to be a push. If looked at more closely though, the Rangers mesh better as a full unit.
The Yankees win the closer battle, as Rivera's better than Feliz. Are Boone Logan, Kerry Wood and David Robertson better than Alexi Ogando and the two Darrens? I'd say not. They can be brought in for an inning or two, or perhaps just a batter, and they can move from reliever to reliever without causing panic.
One of the disadvantages the Rangers have going into this is a lack of experience. It's no question the Yankees are used to this environment, and for the rest of the week people will continue to bring that up.
What the Rangers lack in experience, they make up for in hunger. They have just won their first playoff series in history, and with Cliff Lee gone next year they're not going to stop now. Vladimir Guerrero might not get another shot at 35, and a World Series ring would cement his legacy.
Mike Young has seen this team through thick and thin the past 10 years he's been on the Rangers; Josh Hamilton is coming off an MVP season; these players especially are going to be fighting hard to topple the Yankees; it's a type of hunger only the chronically hungry can know, and these players certainly are.
Head-to-head matchups can say a lot about what to expect when two teams face each other. The Rangers and Yankees split their eight-game series for the season. That doesn't tell the whole story though. The Yankees swept the Rangers in April, and the other five games came after the Cliff Lee trade.
In looking at the post-Lee games, The Rangers are 4-1. Lee actually pitched in two of these, including the loss. Perhaps more notable is that the lone less came during a rare blown save by Feliz. Don't expect that to be something the Yankees can really capitalize on. After all, a Rangers win came from a Rivera blown save, so the two are probably not going to let that happen in the playoffs.
The Yankees' strength has been their hitting. First in runs, first in OBP, third in home runs, etc. However, they also frequently strike out. Five Yankees passed the 100 strikeout mark this season, compared to only Mike Young for the Rangers.
This becomes an advantage for the Rangers because Lee, Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson are all strikeout pitchers. All three passed the 170 K mark this year (only Sabathia did for the Yanks). If they are going to shut down the Yankees bats, striking out has to be at the forefront. If anyone can do that though, it's the Rangers.