ALDS Preview: New York Yankees

There is little doubt – the New York Yankees are the best team in baseball this year. They won 103 games and it wasn’t a fluke, as their WAR projected win total was 103 as well. They pummeled their opponents for 915 runs, winning with a bludgeoning offense that made up for a mediocre defense and some problems with the pitching staff. As usual, though, the Yankees are built for the playoffs, with three strong starting pitchers, an elite closer, and an offense that can put up 10 runs on any given night. By getting to choose their ALDS schedule, they even get the advantage of only having to use three starters in the first round, putting an even greater percentage of the innings in the hands of their best players.

This would be a hard series for the Twins to win even at full strength. The Yankees are really good.

Game 1, Twins at Yankees, Wednesday, 6:07 PM

Brian Duensing takes the hill against CC Sabathia, and it’s not hyperbole to say that this might be one of the most lopsided pitching match-ups in history. After a slow start, Sabathia has been on a roll of late, and he takes the mound looking to shake the memories of a disastrous post-season a year ago. Minnesota’s best hitters are primarily left-handed, giving Sabathia even more of an edge. Anything can happen, but the Yankees have to be huge favorites tonight. Joe Mauer getting kidnapped is the only break they haven’t caught for game one.

Game 2, Twins at Yankees, Friday, 6:07 pm

The downside of the longer series is that the Twins get a breather after game one, which their bullpen will certainly need. The Yankees face off against Nick Blackburn, a pitch-to-contact strike thrower. That’s a tough skillset to win with against the Yankees in New York. The Yanks counter with A.J. Burnett, in a decision which I find a little puzzling. It’s tough to argue that Burnett is a substantially better pitcher than Andy Pettitte, and the fact that Pettitte’s a lefty makes him the tougher match-up for Minnesota. I would have though that facing the Twins to hit a LH starter in four out of five games would have been to the Yankees advantage, but Girardi disagrees and goes with Burnett in game two.

Game 3, Yankees at Twins, Sunday, TBD

The series shifts back to Minnesota for the first possible elimination game, with New York seeing despised former teammate Carl Pavano. Pavano’s had a better year than his ERA indicates, though he’s been prone to disaster starts as well, and the Yankees have to be hoping for the chance to pile up runs in a hurry. Pettitte takes the hill for his one start in the series, and as usual, gives New York the advantage on the hill.

Game 4, Yankees at Twins, Monday, TBD

Due to the extra game against Detroit, Scott Baker makes his first appearance of the series in game four if the Twins are able to get it that far. Unfortunately for the Twins, he has to face off against Sabathia, so even with their ace on the hill, New York has the advantage.

Game 5, Twins at Yankees, Wednesday, TBD

To be honest, I’ll be quite surprised if this game is played. The Yankees are substantially better than Minnesota, and the pitching match-ups favor them in every single outing. The Twins are going to need a minor miracle just to get to get to game five, and if they do, they’re either going with Duensing again or Blackburn on short rest. New York really couldn’t ask for a better situation for their first round.

Overall

The playoffs are a crapshoot. Inferior teams beat the best teams in baseball. Anything can happen. But if you’re betting, bet on the Yankees. They’re the prohibitive favorite for good reason. They have every card stacked in their favor, even before accounting for that whole best-team-in-baseball thing.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Xavier
Guest
Xavier

“But if you’re betting, bet on the Yankees. They’re the prohibitive favorite for good reason.”

This strikes me as counterintuitive. I really can’t imagine there would be any value in a Yankees line when their advantages are so obvious. I would say, if you’re betting, bet on the Twins, although that might be a little too obviously contrarian.

I would not bet this series.

Teej
Guest
Teej

I think he’s just making a general statement, like if you had a straight-up bet with a friend or something, not factoring in Vegas betting lines.

Xavier
Guest
Xavier

Yeah, I kinda figured. I guess that just seemed way too obvious of a statement.

Though if you have any friends that are willing to bet me straight up, I’ll take the Yankees, please.

Andrew
Member
Andrew

Uh, why would you not bet on something that is pretty safe? It’s no different than betting on anything else with 4:5 odds. The risk is very low.