So, what is the New York Yankees secret to success in this ALDS series?
It is a pretty simple formula…. winning Game 1 and beating Justin Verlander.
Appropriately in Game 1, both skippers’ Joe Girardi and Jim Leland, have their aces taking the hill. This is almost a prerequisite for all teams competing in the five-game ALDS series, as it allows an ace to pitch twice if needed.
First off all, winning Game 1 of the postseason is never a bad thing, as for any team it sends an abrupt message that you came to play. For the Yankees, defying the odds is something the players seem to relish in and when they get hot, they usually stay that way but the same is true when they get beat.
Now let’s look at Verlander, Sabathia and my specific prediction for the outcome of the ALDS Game 1….
Verlander vs. Sabathia
It is easy to start with Tigers Justin Verlander, as be is a shoe-inn for the AL CY Young Award and is in serious contention for the AL MVP Award, which a pitcher hasn’t won since Roger Clemens was on the juice.
Regardless, Verlander is nasty. The righty finished the regular season with a 24-5 record, which included four complete games and two shutouts. Over the total of 251 innings he pitched, Verlander fanned 250 batters, posted a 2.40 ERA and opposing hitters averaged .192 against him. His arsenal includes a wicked curveball, slider and change-up to compliment his 100+ mph fastball.
To put it politely the Yankee bats will have their hands full, but it is not a total lost cause. Verlander gave 24 home-runs and 57 walks, which is a higher number than expected. Hitters have fared a lot better against him then the stats would make out to believe, but not by much.
In his career, the Yankee Captain has hit .357 off Verlander. And now I understand why Girardi is DH-ing Jorge Posada as he is not far behind Jeter posting .333 vs. the Tiger’s ace. Swisher has three career homers against Verlander, while Tex, Chavez and Cano have all gone yard once vs. Verlander.
Even with the future crowned 2011 CY Young winner on the mound, the Yankee hitters have an enormous amount of plate patience and it could frustrate Verlander. The only thing is that Verlander is a workhorse and can through well over 130 pitches, so that almost eliminates the Yankees advantage over the Tigers relievers.
When you consider that Sabathia gave up 17 home-runs and 61 walks in total, it makes Verlander seem more mortal and if any lineup in baseball can bring a pitcher back down to earth it is the Yankees. It also reminds baseball fans that Sabathia is no slouch.
It is no secret that Sabathia struggled this past August. The decline happened at the same time Girardi went to a six-man rotation and the extra day between starts might have thrown the ace off schedule.
My guess it at some point Sabathia will have to swallow his pride by intentionally walking Tigers slugger and 2011 AL Batting Title winner Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera is the best hitter I have ever seen, and he has owned Sabathia. In his 16-career at-bats vs. CC, Cabrera has 11 RBIs, two home-runs, one double; four walks and posts a .563 batting average. So this move would be smart.
The Yankees bullpen is dominate, and if Sabathia can throw six solid innings without letting runs score that would be enough.
WHO HAS THE PITCHING ADVANTAGE?
How can anyone not pick Verlander? Even as a Yankees fan there is no denying that the Tigers ace is a stud and if he has command on his fastball, you can just forget it.
MY GAME WINNER:
Even though Verlander has a good night, the Yankee hitters don’t do much but they get deep into counts and Tigers skipper Leland pulls him out after seven innings.
Yankee bats take advantage of the Tigers relievers and score two or three runs. The real heroes were the Yankee bullpen featuring Soriano-Robertson-Rivera. After Sabathia pitches six innings, giving up a solo home-runs to Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez, the bullpen comes in and keeps the Tigers batters hit-less.
Yankees win over the Tigers… 3-2, with a little patience.
Oh wouldn’t that be nice…
- ALDS Game 1: Big Game From CC, Yankees A Must Against Tigers’ Verlander (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Jeter, Yankees in tough vs. Verlander in ALDS (cbc.ca)
- You: ALDS Schedule 2011: C.C. Sabathia Must Top Justin Verlander for Yankees to Win (bleacherreport.com)
- Yankees will face Tigers in ALDS; Garcia to start Game 3 (nypost.com)
- ALDS Preview: Tigers vs. Yankees (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Yankees, Tigers Sqaure Off In ALDS: Justin Verlander vs. CC Sabathia In Game 1 (huffingtonpost.com)