Friday, October 15, 2010

American League Championship Series Preview

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-Digger's Daily-

New York Yankees vs Texas Rangers.

Get ready baseball fans. 2010 ALCS is set to begin tonight in Arlington. Playoff history couldn't be more different for these squads. Defending World Series Champion New York Yankees have won 27 Fall Classics. Yankees players dominate playoff record holders in nearly every meaningful category. Texas won their first playoff series ever against Tampa Bay.

Wipe the slate clean. The best of 7 ALCS begins tonight. Yesterday is history. Today is all that matters.

Time to break it all down.

Starting Rotation: EVEN
Game 1 - Sabathia vs Wilson (in Texas)
Game 2 - Hughes vs Lewis (in Texas)
Game 3 - Pettitte vs Lee (in NY)
Game 4 - Burnett vs Hunter (in NY)

Interesting pitching matchups. CC should be able to out-duel Wilson. Yankees bats are ferocious. CC is used to big game pitching. Game 2 is a toss up. Hughes got lucky throwing fastball after fastball right down the middle vs Minnesota but the Twins couldn't get anything going. If Hughes repeats, then Texas will score at will. Pettitte vs Lee. Pettitte's post-season success is legendary. Lee dominated as a Phillie last year and owned the Twins in ALDS. In Game 4, it'll be surprising if either Burnett or Hunter survives 5 innings unscathed.

Batting Order: EDGE YANKEES
Yankees hitters have big game experience. Yankees hitters own a few playoff records. 1-9 there's no easy out vs LHP or RHP. Robinson Cano is AL MVP candidate. The off days should help Yanks players (Posada, Swisher, ARod, Jeter) get strong and healthy. Jeter slumped after the All Star break. He's been hitting everything hard lately. 2009 playoff hero ARod has yet to get it going but he's primed to tear apart his former team.

Rangers are packing Texas heat at the plate. AL MVP candidate Josh Hamilton was a pitchers worst nightmare until a rib injury sidelined him for most of September. He's back, but his swing isn't. Vlad Guererro has been every bit as important to this squad. 7 quality hitters. Good base runners and plenty of pop. Interesting note... Texas has yet to win a 2010 home playoff game.

Huge advantage to Yanks when it comes to team defense. New York committed 36 fewer errors in 2010. Yanks MLB best 69 team errors and .988 fielding percentage. 19 errors by starting infield (ARod 7, Jeter 6, Cano 3, Teixeira 3). Good luck getting one by these guys.

Berkman, Thames & Kearns lead the way and could play large rolls. Thames slugs lefties is scheduled to DH vs Wilson and Lee. Berkman's been turning it up and will start vs righties.

Middle Relief: EDGE RANGERS
One never knows what kind an effort Yanks relievers will deliver. They're good when avoiding falling behind in the count. It's always easier to perform ahead 0-1 or 1-2 than it is behind 2-0 or 3-1. Can't give powerful Rangers hitters any chances to excel or they will. Rangers middle relievers have been great. All they need to do is leave the butterflies behind in the bullpen.

Mariano Rivera is the All Time everything when it comes to Playoff pitching. 0.72 ERA in 91 career playoff games. Rangers have a flame thrower in Feliz. Don't take him for granted but he's been having control issues lately. Feliz cannot afford to give one of the all time greatest come from behind playoff teams any second chances or extra at bats.

Prediction: Throw out who's better on paper. Games are always decided on the field. 27 World Championships to Zero carries a lot of weight but the games will be won pitch to pitch. Hughes & Burnett could get lit up by an aggressive Rangers attack. If the Rangers can pull off a Game 1 victory vs CC then they'll own an emotional and rotation edge. If CC shuts down Texas then there won't be any stopping New York.

Yankees in 6.


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