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ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

Posted on: October 12, 2010 11:11 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 11:39 pm
RZThe ALCS is set, and the Yankees with 27 World Series rings will do battle with a team that just won its first postseason series -- ever.

Cliff Lee That may seem like an obvious advantage, but both teams are rather evenly matched in starting pitching. Although the Yankees will be able to roll with a normal format of the ace in the first game, the Rangers will have to push Cliff Lee (pictured, right) back to the third game.

Game 1 will pit Yankees ace CC Sabathia against fellow lefty C.J. Wilson. While Sabathia holds an edge, it's not a major one as Wilson has his own successful year in the books. Game 2 will see Andy Pettitte go against Colby Lewis. Lewis holds the edge in an ability to go deep in the game and actually has a better xFIP than Pettitte (3.93 to 4.05) but it's close enough that you can't discount Pettitte's pitching from the south and his postseason credentials. Another close matchup.

Then, Lee goes against Phil Hughes. Easy advantage for Texas and Lee, but Phil Hughes is no slouch either. Then you get into the soft underbelly of both teams in Game 4 starters of A.J. Burnett and Tommy Hunter.

Even though the Yankees have a chance to jump out to an early lead, the Rangers will also benefit from being able to throw Lee in Game 3 -- oftentimes a game that sets the tone for the rest of the series -- and a do-or-die Game 7. Unless the Yankees bring CC Sabathia back on three days' rest for Game 7 (and that sounded unlikely given Joe Girardi's comments on the subject), the Yankees might be underdogs going into a possible Game 7.

The starting pitching matchups remain close enough that each team's offense will have to step up in order to guarantee victory -- and each team goes different routes when it comes to offense.

The Yankees paced baseball in runs scored with 859, but the Rangers weren't too far behind at fifth with 787. However, both teams went in very different ways when it came to scoring these runs. The Yankees live and die by plate discipline, also pacing first in the majors in on-base percentage.

Mark Teixeira Mark Teixeira (left) paced the team with 93 walks, but Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson also cracked or exceeded the 50-walk plateau. That's eight of nine starters, if you weren't counting.

Ah, but the Rangers have their own weapon: a team batting average of .276 paced the league with both Michael Young (.284 batting average) and Josh Hamilton (.359) tying for a team lead with 186 hits. Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz also topped the .300 batting average mark, so this team can make contact.

The Yankees have the advantage of running up the pitch counts of the Rangers pitchers which will force Texas to dip into what has already been an overworked bullpen. On the other hand, an aggressive approach at the plate might be what it takes to take out the Yankees starters -- but only as long as the club doesn't expand its strike zone. Given the team is 18th in total walks, that could end up a real concern.

Fielding is the last major impact there can be on a series. The Rangers have a team UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating) of 1.9, but the Yankees lurk just behind at 1.8. In defensive runs saved, the Rangers have one to their name, while the Yankees have exactly zero. So even the pitching is evenly matched up.

Both teams are too close in offense, pitching and defense to call any victor. Given the Yankees have the edge in plate discipline and power, that might be enough to tip the scales in favor of New York in what is shaping up to be a battle between two evenly-matched teams.

-- Evan Brunell

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Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2010 3:28 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

Yankees in 5.  CLiff Lee is the only starter who can beat them (see 2009 World Series, where the 2009 Phillies had much better starters than the 2010 Rangers)

Since: Mar 31, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2010 2:19 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

2 letters.............MO

He will be the difference.
Texas bullpen is junk at best.

Yanks in 6

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: October 13, 2010 2:13 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

Good thing they have the wildcard or the Yankees would all be vacationing in hawaii while the Texas Rangers would be going to the World Series.  Texas did beat the best team in the AL East 3 of 5.  Maybe your alligator jaws are overloading your pekinese ass.

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: October 13, 2010 2:08 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

Against the 3 best teams in the AL East, Texas is 15-14, they were 4-4 against NY exchanging home field sweeps.  Texas was 6-4 against Boston, but 5-2 over the last 7 games.  Texas was 2-4 against TB going into the play-offs, how did that hold up for you in the play-offs?  Many people forget that when TB swept Texas in August that Texas was playing without 4 regulars in the heart of their line-up those for games and that Lee was pitching with a bad back at the time. 

The point is; regular season records have no bearing on the play-offs.  Any knowledgeable fan knows that Texas matches up much better against the Yankees than they did the Rays.  Yankees have no weaknesses other than consistency against lefties.  Yanks have been here more than any team, they are experienced, confident and very good in all facets of the game.  They will be tough to beat, but they are beatable and the Texas Rangers believe they can beat them.  I wouldn't bet the farm on the Yankees winning if I were you.

If Yanks are going to win this series, they will win it in 5 or 6 games, if it goes 7,  the Rangers win.

Since: Mar 23, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2010 2:08 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

4-4 woo hoo.  Huge sample size.  I suppose if they were 5-3 you'd say they would win 100 games against them in a full season...

The fact is, playing 72 games against the AL East is much much tougher than an imbalanced schedule against Oakland, Seattle, and Texas.  Texas's top 3 starters have a combined record of 39-30 and ERA's of 3.18, 3.35, and 3.72.  The Yankees top 3 are 50-18 with ERA's of 3.18, 3.28, 4.19.  Very little difference in ERA's but the Yankees have faced much stiffer competition.  TB, Bos, Tor, and Bal averaged 128 more runs scored than Oak, LAA, and Sea.  And that doesn't even take into account the stiffer competition.  The only Texas starter who would have an ERA under 4.00 playing in the AL East is Cliff Lee - and's he's been mediocre since joining Texas.  That's the reason for the HUGE disparity in starter W-L records.  Not only is it MUCH more meaningful for a starter to have an ERA in the 3.00s pitching out of the AL East, but it also helps that the Yankees have the best closer in the history of the game.

One of the most laughable parts of this article is when he states that Texas's offense is almost even with the Yankees.  72 runs is nearly half a run a game.  That's HUGE!  The Rangers are actually a BELOW AVERAGE offense by AL East standards.  Check out the baseball RPI ratings.  The sad fact is that Toronto is a slightly better team than Texas.  Really, the only thing the Rangers have going for them, is that anything can happen in a best of 7 series in baseball.  Unlike the NBA or NFL, the best team often doesn't win the World Series - which is why they should have never added the Wild Card...

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: October 13, 2010 8:14 am

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

You do realize that about a month ago the Rangers swept the Yankees, and they are 4-4 against the Yankees for the year. That's pretty evenly matched. They also had a winning record against Boston and were 5-6 against Tampa including the postseason.

But keep trotting out vs. division stats for the East because they mean so much.

Since: Dec 13, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2010 8:12 am

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

most people probably wanted to see the Yankee-Rays, since those were the 2 best teams in the league, however the Rangers will now have to exercise there own demons against the Yankees, something the Twins weren't able to do....yet again.

Since: Mar 23, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2010 2:14 am

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

Even matchup?  Are you kidding me???  There isn't a single team in the AL West or Central that had a winning record against the AL East.  There isn't a single AL East team, including the lowly Orioles, who had a losing record to the AL West.  The disparity between divisions is horrible!  The Rangers are not even a .500 team if they were in the AL East.  The Yankees will crush them.  The Rangers are fortunate that anyone can win a short 5 games series.  No way lightning strikes twice.  Especially in a 7-game series against a well rested Yankees squad...

Since: Dec 11, 2007
Posted on: October 13, 2010 1:28 am

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

I question whether the pitching matchups will occur as the article suggests.  Cannot imagine that the Rangers will pitch Lee in 3 and 7, sticking to 4 days rest.  How can they play the ALCS with a decent chance of using their best starter only once?  I realise that Lee has never gone on 3 days before, but we may see the end to that trend, especially if game 6 rolls around and the Texas is down 3 to 2.  Also Girardi may go with Hughes in game 2 instead of Andy, reversing his setup against the Twins.  The Twins lefty lineup was a good matchup for Andy, while Hughes may match up better against Texas' righty dominated lineup.  Hughes has only 2 career starts against the Rangers, small sample size, but in those two starts he has not allowed a run.

Since: Oct 11, 2010
Posted on: October 13, 2010 12:49 am

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

The two best teams in the AL matching up, glad to see it.  I have to give respect to the Yanks because they know when to start playing good ball at the right time, but I think the Rangers might be too much to handle with the home field advantage.  We know Texas isn't stranger to winning on the road this postseason (3-0 against the AL East Champs)

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