Rangers Match-Up Best With the Yankees
The champagne has been cleaned up, the hangovers have hopefully passed and the Rangers are back home tuning up for their first postseason appearance since Clinton was in office.
With a week to go until the playoffs begin the Rangers have their rotation setup for the first round with Cliff Lee going in game one, CJ Wilson in game two and Colby Lewis in game three.
If there is a fourth game, the Rangers can either bring Lee back on three days rest or start Tommy Hunter depending on how the first three games go for the Rangers.
It's highly doubtful the Rangers start Hunter if there's a game four simply because both scenarios that would lead to a fourth game make Lee starting important.
If the Rangers win two of the first three then Lee will be brought on to try and close out the series in Arlington, but if they lose two of the first three then Lee will be needed to try and force a game five.
Who the Rangers will play in the Division Series won't be determined until the battle for the American League East is decided, but I can tell you who the Rangers want and who Yankee fans do not want.
Spending a week in New York last week was interesting as nearly every Yankee fan I ran into told me they hope the Rays win the East because they don't want to face the Rangers.
Sorry Yankee fans, but the Rangers and their fan base want the Yankees in the first round for a variety of reasons.
First and easily the most important, the Rangers match-up well against the Yankees in every category, except for postseason experience which could be a huge factor considering how the Rangers played the closer they got to clinching the West.
Lee has pitched well against the Yankees in the past and will match-up against C.C. Sabathia in the first game and perhaps the fourth game if the stars align properly.
After Sabathia the Yankees become vulnerable and they cannot feel too great about their starting pitching in September.
The Rangers meanwhile have another hard throwing lefty following Lee who has pitched very well against lefties all season long and will turn around the Yankees' power hitting switch hitters taking away that convenient short porch in left field.
Probably the biggest advantage for the Rangers in a match-up with the Yankees comes with the bullpen.
The Rangers swept the Yankees at Rangers Ballpark a few weeks ago simply by having the better bullpen.
The Yankees blew late leads while the Rangers bullpen pitched out of jam after jam allowing the offense to eventually knock around a Yankee relief pitcher and win the game.
I've said it many times before, but a team's bullpen is the key to winning 11 playoff games and enjoying a parade down the city streets and the Rangers are very well positioned thanks to the depth of the bullpen.
Offensively the Yankees can flat out mash with much more power than the Rangers have to offer especially with Josh Hamilton still questionable.
However, if there's one thing the Rangers know far too well from their own postseason experiences, the most potent offense doesn't mean much in a playoff series facing pitchers that shut down power hitters.
The Rangers are built around speed, some power in the middle and solid fundamentals in terms of moving guys over and stealing bases at the right times; a dynamic the Rangers didn't have their last playoff appearance and a dynamic the Yankees simply don't match.
If the Rangers pitchers can keep the ball in the yard and turn this series into one revolving around speed on offense and pitching they have a very good shot at their first playoff series victory in club history.
Of course things like this always sound easier on paper.