The 2011 has been a bit of a strange season in Yankee-land.
There were times that it was clear that the Red Sox were far superior, and the aging Yankees would be lucky to snag the Wild Card and hobble into the playoffs. Turns out, the combination of added veteran pitchers Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia along with young stud, Ivan Nova (who could very well win Rookie of the Year and will be the Yankees number two starter in the postseason at age 24), has been pretty good behind CC Sabathia.
The potent lineup led by a career year from Curtis Granderson provides the Bombers with enough offense to overcome virtually any deficit.
The Detroit Tigers are a formidable opponent and match up very well on paper with the Yankees. Justin Verlander is a true ace if there ever was one.
With a record of 24-5 and an ERA of 2.40, the Tigers have the edge in game one, even with Sabathia on the mound.
But, never underestimate the power of home field advantage. Yankee Stadium has been very kind to New York, especially in the last 15 years, and especially in the postseason.
Beyond Verlander, the Tigers’ pitching staff is admirable, but not overpowering. Doug Fister will start game 2 boasting a regular season ERA of 2.83, but he has a career ERA of 6.00 against the Yankees.
Game 3 starter Max Scherzer is a bit of a question mark for both teams. He’s shown great stuff in his last few starts, but he’s given up a lot of runs. (Thirty one in his last 10 starts.)
On offense, the Yankees will likely only worry about Miguel Cabrera and Miguel Cabrera only. Sporting a huge .344 average, he’s nearly impossible to get out, and with 30 home runs on the season, he’s sure to be a threat every time he’s up. There’s little to worry about after that; a handful of players had high averages but low production numbers.
Austin Jackson, who came over in the Curtis Granderson trade with the Yankees, will have something to prove to his former team after a great rookie year with Detroit.
The Yankees have a (not-so) secret weapon in David Robertson out of the bullpen. He’s been talked about a lot in the Yankees Universe this season, but a closer look into his numbers reveal he may be the Yankees’ MVP and biggest asset going into the post season. He went 4-0 this season with a microscopic ERA of 1.08, which is Mariano-esque. He had an even 100 strikeouts in 66.2 innings and only gave up 40 hits. The one home run he surrendered was a solo shot. His numbers are most impressive with runners on, and especially with the bases loaded: in 6.1 innings (that’s 19 outs with the bases loaded) he didn’t give up a run in the regular season and struck out 14 batters, leaving them with an average of .053 against. That’s one heck of a setup guy to Mariano Rivera.
It’s going to be a very competitive series between the Tigers and Yankees, one to watch for sure. The Yankees have a slight edge on paper, but as has always been the case, the postseason is a totally different story.