Thursday, September 29, 2011

ALDS Preview: Yankees/Tigers

For the first time in a while, we don't have the Red Sox late season situation to discuss. I think the topic has been covered pretty well, and I'm sure it will be revisited as people get some time away and the resultant perspective. Not just perspective in regards to the meltdown, but more importantly perspective in terms of what this means for the broader context of where the Red Sox are going. They've gone from winning the World Series, to losing in the ALCS, to getting swept in the ALDS, to missing the playoffs two years in a row. Those things obviously don't all point to a steady decline the way the shear end results indicate (getting bounced at different points in the playoffs is not necessarily a true indicator of talent), but clearly this is not a team heading in the direction they want to be right now, and I'm sure that will be addressed here.

Moving onto previewing the Yankees division series matchup, I think a lot of this series will boil down to Sabathia vs. Verlander. Both are very clearly the ace of their respective staffs, and a there is a lot of playoff question marks after that in both rotations after that. In terms of both overall and underlying statistics, both were probably the two best pitchers in the American League this year as well. It's a bigtime matchup, and even bigger in the context of a 5 game series. That is because both are slated to start Game 1 and a potential Game 4. If one can take control of that matchup, they likely put their team in the driver's seat in this series.

Beyond that, the starting pitching is pretty similar. The Yankees have a better and deeper bullpen (4th best bullpen ERA in the majors to 25th best bullpen ERA in the majors), but the Tigers do have some strong arms on the back end in Valverde, Benoit, and Alburquerque. In the postseason the back-end influences games far more than middle relief in most cases, so the Tigers will have a chance to make an impact here. They will be up against Rivera, Robertson, and Soriano, which is no small task. Especially because the Yankees do have more depth, so should the starting pitching falter and it becomes a contest of middle relief, guys like Hughes, Burnett, and Wade could provide separation. The Yankees also have Logan to neutralize lefties.

The Yankees have a better offense, scoring 80 more runs than Detroit this year. But that is somewhat misleading as the Tigers were 4th in runs scored in all of baseball, only two behind the Yankees who were 2nd in baseball in runs scored. They also have a lot of right-handed/switch-hitting bats, which could help them make things tougher on Sabathia.

As far as the Yankees' offense, they are as deep and talented as any team in the game. For them it's a matter of not having guys disappear. Naturally, in a short sample like the playoffs, some guys are going to get hot and some are going to be cold. The key for the Yankees is having that relentless 1-9 attack, just like they do for most of the regular season. When they do that, as we know, they can make even the best pitches work and get them out of the game early. The problem is, in a playoff setting, the Yankees have at times had complete zeroes in the lineup and that has allowed elite starters, and even just good starters, get in bigtime grooves against them. That was rarely more evident than against Texas last year. They don't work counts, they don't get guys on base, pitchers aren't having long innings, and it starts to look like everyone is thinking home run.

Can't have that in the playoffs. Have to think small, and let the big extra-base hit come when it comes. It's all about getting baserunners and moving them along. A big part of that happening is minimizing the amount of bats that are totally neutralized, because that stagnates the lineup and prevents the lineup from getting in a groove and turning over. Based on the last two postseasons, the biggest players to watch in this regard are Teixeira, Swisher, and Gardner. Tex and Swish have gotten a few big hits each, but for the most part these three have been non-factors. The Yankees need more from them this postseason.

Overall, the Yankees need to come out on the offensive. They're at home, they had the best record in the league, and they played good baseball for a long time to end the season. I'll be at both Game 1 and Game 2. No matter how many times the Yankees get there, playoff baseball, especially the buzz the day before and the day that it begins, never gets old. Go Yankees.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I didnt bother reading this post as i could care less, but if this blog truly is ending i have now entered the phase of anticipating dvs last hurrah

the gm said...

Pat,

I think two big considerations to be made when evaluating the ALDS is scheduling and God's will. It is really crucial, especially if TBS is scheduling them for night games before getaway days, that there is a night off after those night games. It can be really tiring for certain individuals on baseball teams to have to get in at 4:00 in the morning and be expected to show up to work a mere nine hours later, then actually perform at a high physical level a mere fifteen hours later. No, seriously, running at 18:00 mile pace down the first base line when you ground into yet another double play is really strenuous physical activity. You might pull a calf muscle, hit a home run on the tight calf muscle, and THEN have to pull yourself out of the game.

Not sure if you knew this, but nobody ever shows up to work a little tired. That's why coffee, caffeinated soda, and energy drinks have never really taken off in the United States, and that's why baseball players have never been in Dunkin Donuts commercials.

So yeah, my main concern is that Mark Teixeira might be a little tired after night games televised nationally. Because they could put the Rays and Rangers on late at night, too. Scheduling is really unfair for the players playing on big-market teams.

Also, God's top priority is to intervene in major professional sports. That whole "free will" stuff in the Old Testament? Nah, we like to take a Calvinistic approach to it. If you suck, it's God's fault, certainly not yours. Hopefully for you, Pat, God loves the Yankees.

the gm said...

Also, by the way, on Thursday, it appears that HYD set all-time single-day traffic records in virtually every statistical category. It was a historical day for the site, and I thank you all for visiting.

the gm said...

Wah, it's too early. I went to bed too late last night after doing homework. Check out the time stamp. My living conditions are not up to basic living standards. Wah. F you, Adrian Gonzalez. I'm going running and then going to work because that's what I get paid to do.

Anonymous said...

Boys

The Globe is reporting that Francona is out as manager. I don't know about you guys, but I'm not thrilled about it.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

All that money bigelow spent on him just went to waste. that was me earlier by the way -jason

Ross Kaplan said...

Pat, have fun at the game tonight it should be a good one despite the asinine 8:37 start time.

What you described, pretty much sums up the Yankees between 2001 and 2009 aka the the Dark Ages. I feel like the offense has done well all year against all types of pitchers including the ones they used to stink against like the hard throwing aces, the unheralded rookie, the soft tossing journeyman they never played against. We just have to hope that trend continues in the playoffs. Especially against Verlander they really need to work the count against him force him to throw a lot of pitchers and get to the bullpen.

the gm at work said...

No mention of Doug Fister, Pat? I'm not trying to bust your balls, but he really solidified Detroit's rotation as they emerged from the ashes of the AL Central. He's pitched big-time down the stretch, had more wins than the Red Sox in September (almost), and provides non-ace stability that the Yankees don't really have.