Who do you want the Yanks to play in the ALDS?
If the MLB playoffs started today (which they don’t) the Yankees, with the best record in the AL, would face the Texas Rangers in the ALDS. Of course each team has about 15-16 games remaining so a lot can change, but barring a 2007 Mets collapse the Yanks will be heading to the postseason. So I thought I’d take a look at who the best opponent would be for the Bombers.
The candidates: Detroit (have the Central all but locked up), Rangers (lead the Angels by three games in the West), Angels (right on the Rangers’ ass and 5 1/2 behind the Sox in the Wild Card). The Red Sox and Rays are neck and neck atop the WC race, but, obviously, the Yanks can’t face a divisional opponent in the ALDS.
We all fear Justin Verlander, he’s dirty. He’s a lock for the Cy Young and is in the discussion for the MVP. The Yanks wouldn’t want to face him twice in a five-game series.
However, each of their five starters are righties, which would bode well with all the lefties in the NYY lineup. Plus, their number two starter, Max Scherzer, doesn’t have great numbers this year and has one clunker against the Yanks and one gem, although they both came within the first five weeks of the season. The same could be said for their number three, Rick Porcello. Doug Fister has been nice since heading to the Tigers from Seattle, but look at the teams he’s faced. And I have to imagine Brad Penny won’t get a start in the playoffs.
As far as their bullpen goes, Valverde is nice this year. He hasn’t blown a save all season and looks good, plain and simple. Benoit is pitching well, as is Al Al, but I would love to see Phil Coke try to pitch in the Bronx. What strikes me as funny, though, is that the Tigers bullpen has the sixth worst ERA in baseball. I know ERA is a stupid stat for relievers, but that’s interesting. Detroit’s bullpen’s xFIP is the third worst in MLB at 4.29 and its FIP is sixth worst at 4.08.
Granted, the Tigers have won 10 straight and 12 of 13, but look at the teams they’ve faced. None of those 12 wins have come against a team that currently has a winning record. Plus, as my man @JordanSmed points out, if the Indians and White Sox records hold, the Tigers will play four of their final 50 games against teams over .500.
Detroit is in the top four in MLB in the following offensive categories: runs (706), hits (1,390), average (.276), total bases (2161), RBI (672), OBP (.338) and SLG (.429). Their BB% is 11th best in the majors (8.4) and their K% is 15th (18.3). Detroit’s wOBA is fourth best at .344 and its .317 BABIP is the highest in MLB.
My take: The Tigers are 4-3 against the Yanks this year, including the three most recent matchups. However, the teams haven’t faced each other since May 5 and the runs for-against are almost equal, with Detroit outscoring New York 36-33. It wouldn’t be the end of the world (or the season) if the Yanks drew Detroit in the ALDS, in my opinion.
They’ve alternated wins and losses for the past nine games and they’re once
They’ve got a healthy mix of lefties and righties in their rotation, and CJ Wilson has been a stud this season. He’s got one clunker in his last eight starts and has been filthy over that span. Colby Lewis has been average this season and has fallen apart recently, but we all remember what he did against the Yanks in Game 6 last season. Matt Harrison has also been legit and, much kind of like Scherzer, has one gem against the Yanks and one decent start. Derek Holland has been great as of late although his season numbers aren’t anything to write home about. Much like Lewis, we all remember what he did in last year’s ALCS. Alexi Ogando has put together a solid season, with an ERA+ of 118, but the Yanks have hit him pretty hard this season (albeit in just two starts).
Texas has scored the third most runs (765) in baseball, has the second most hits (1,431), cracked the third most home runs (179), driven in the third most runs (724), is tied for the best average (.279) and has the second best slugging (.452). Their ISO is third best in ball (.173) and their wOBA is third best (.344). However, they’re 10th worst in MLB in BB% (7.7) but do have the lowest K% (15.1).
As far as bullpens go, Texas’ has surrendered the eighth most earned runs this season. Its bullpen is worst in MLB in FIP at 4.61 and its xFIP is 16th in the majors at 3.97.
The Yanks are 7-2 against the Rangers this season while outscoring them 61-35. I wouldn’t mind the Yanks facing these guys in the first round.
The Halos have a little bit of work to do if they’re going to make the postseason, but if they do watch out. Weaver, Haren and Santana are not to be fucked with in a five-game series, that’s a trio you do not want to face. The LAA starters have the second best ERA in the AL (3.61), a crappy K/9 (6.45 — 11th worst in MLB) but their 2.44 BB/9 is third best in ball. Plus, their .83 HR/9 is the best in the AL. The starters have a collective xFIP of 3.91, which is 13th best in the majors, and a FIP of 3.69, which is sixth best in ball (second in the AL).
The offense is nothing great. The Angels have scored the 18th most runs in baseball (602) and rank 17th in homers (137), RBI (568), AVG (.253) and wOBA (.313). Their OBP of .313 is 22nd worst and their .400 OBP ranks 16th. They boast the sixth worst BB% (7.3) in MLB and their 17.9% K% is ninth best in MLB (tied with the Yankees).
The Anaheim bullpen ranks 23rd in xFIP with 4.06, 22nd in FIP at 4.02 and ninth in ERA at 3.47. It’s K/BB ratio is third worst in MLB at 1.77 and its .81 HR/9 is middle of the pack. The WHIP of 1.37 ranks 24th in the majors but their LOB% of 76.5 is seventh best.
The Yanks took the season series 4-2 and outscored them 29-22, however, since Girardi took over in 2008 the Yanks are 16-18 against LAA in the regular season while being outscored 196-177. I know the Yanks kind of broke the postseason curse against them in 2009, but the team is still 7-8 against the Halos since 2002 in the playoffs — 3-6 if you don’t include 2009. I don’t want any part of this team in the playoffs, especially if they get on a roll, knock the Rangers out of the playoffs and come in red hot. No thanks pal.