We are now just one day away from the ALCS opening game between the Yankees and the Angels. The game will take place in Yankee Stadium and will likely be Sabathia for the Yankees and Lacky for the Angels. It could be held up by rain, but lets hope it won’t be. Here are the top 5 questions I am looking foward to to learning the answers to as the series progresses.
1. If necessary, will Sabathia be able to pitch effectively on 3 days rest?
Girardi’s plan is simple; stupid, but simple. He will go with a 3-man rotation that looks like this: Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte^, Sabathia^, Burnett^*, Pettitte*, Sabathia* (^=away, *=if necessary). As we know, Giardi is not a fan of pushing his starters. So, his brilliant plan to protect C.C., is to hope that one of the games gets rained out. Good job Giardi. Assuming that he will, in fact, need to start on 3 games rest, it will be interesting to see if he can come through. As you remember last year, C.C. went consistently on 3 games rest and carried the Brewers on his back into the playoffs. Sabathia has pitched four games on 3 games rest and has a 1.01 ERA in those starts. But, in 2 starts in the ALCS, he has a 10.45 ERA in 10.1 innings.
2. Which first baseman will perform better: Teixeira or Morales?
If you saw my entry yesterday, you saw that these two players have very, very similar numbers. In the regular season they had almost an identical BA, OBP, SLG, HR and RBI. They both hit better against righties and have similar numbers against lefties and will both face 2 righties and 2 lefties (assuming a 4 man rotation.) For both of them as well, this is their first appearance in the ALCS.
3. Will A-Rod continue his “clutchness”?
In the ALDS against the Twins, A-Rod hit .455 with 2 HR and 6 RBI, which are all career bests for him in any postseason series. I think its fair to say that without A-Rod, the Yankees might not have won that series. If he continues to play like this, this series will be A LOT easier. He has 67 home runs against LA, his best against any team, so that may help.
4. Can the Yankees overcome their Anaheim Hex?
Although the season series was even at 5 this year for these teams, there is no doubt that the Yankees have had some struggles against this team, especially on Anaheim’s turf. They had 2 series in LA this year. They got swept in one and won their first series since May of 2004 in the other. If the Yankees are going to win this series, they will need to end the hex.
5. Will Hughes pitch well?
Hughes was one of the most dominant relievers in baseball this year, with a 1.40 ERA and 65 SO in 51.1 innings. In his second postseason series in his career, it was a different story. He pitched 2 innings and gave up 2 runs and 5 hits. Although the Yankees swept, it would have been a lot easier if Hughes had pitched like he did during the regular season. I think its fair to say that this series could very well come down to how well Hughes pitches.
Poll of the Day: