After a not so convincing sweep of the Twins by the Yankees and the Ranger’s Lee dominating the Rays into submission it is now time to move to the LCS in the AL and the Texas Ranger’s attempt to dethrone the reigning champion New York Yankees.
The entire post-season roster of the Rangers probably costs the same as the Yankee’s starting in-field, to which many will say is the epitome of the upset balance in baseball. Very true, the Yankees do “overpay” for their players based on the WAR for many of the “elite” names compared to a bargain basement Ranger’s staff. Both teams made tremendous late season moves to bolster their playoff chances and spent money where money needed to be spent to get here. Both overcame and triumphed and have some momentum on their side going into the series. Like with the Yankees Twinkies post this will dissect the two teams piece by piece.
Each series there is less to do with past performance and more how the players match up under the big lights. The aces of each staff are elite in their own right, but where CC Sabathia has not been the rock-solid foundation of the staff for the Yanks lately Cliff Lee is the great equalizer on the mound. Much like his run with Philly, he is dominating again on the Rangers… and for good reason, his pitches are riding down to nearly unhittable. After Lee the rotation for the Rangers is a fairly solid 2-4 with Wilson, Lewis and Hunter, even if Hunter can demonstrate questionable command at times. Meanwhile the Yankees counter with Hughes, Pettite and Burnett. Burnett was so aweful at points in the regular season he didn’t even make the roster against Minni, so who knows which AJ will actually take to the mound in this series. Hughes teetered against Minni and showed his youth in the latter stages of the season so again, he leaves a question mark on paper as well. As difficult as it might be to conceive the Nolan Ryan’s Rangers have the better pitching, they’ve come up bigger thus far and match up very well against the big Yankee bats.
K it to the Rangers
As simply stated last time, two words: Mariano Rivera. If they can get the ball to him, even if it’s in the 8th inning, with the lead the game is over. Having Woods and Chamberlain leading up and a solid mix of specialists in front of that there’s depth and breath in the Yanks pen and that makes them better. Can they live up to the hype, especially after the diamond-studded last round? With the experience of last year’s World Series behind most of them the hope is yes. That isn’t to degrade the Ranger’s pen, but these just are not the same caliber pitchers as what the Texas starters are or any of the other post-season pitchers taking the mound. can they overachieve, absolutely, and in a series like this they will have to in order to hold off the New York lineup and make every tight lead stand.
Close it all: Yanks
Two aging catchers backstop each team with Posada’s bigger bat and Molina’s brighter management both to be reckoned with, especially knowing Posada can be shrewd at times in calling games and Molina can put up clutch hits in a pinch. Defensively around the diamond both teams are fairly evenly matched with youth going to the favor of the Rangers and experience and gutsy presence being the Yankees forte. Ultimately, the deciding factor will be how each team handles their pitchers from a defensive perspective, controlling the base pads, turning the double plays, etc. and playing into the pitcher’s strengths for these. To that, there’s a definitive edge to the Rangers even if the rest of the infield is a wash.
Completing the DP: Rangers
Both teams seem to have their deficiencies in the outfield, with the Rangers not exactly being the speediest and most athletic bunch and the Yankees well documented inconsistency in fielding the same three night-in and nigth-out