Let me start by saying congratulations to the Detroit Tigers on their ALCS victory, as they were the team I picked in the beginning of the season to win the whole damn thing. Now for the topic at hand. The New York Yankees not only lost in the ALCS to the Detroit Tigers, but they absolutely got obliterated and they had more dysfunction in their dugout and front office then I have ever seen a team have in the playoffs EVER. After a hard fought ALDS against their division rival Baltimore Orioles in 5 games, no one in the world expected to see what happened to the Yankees in the Championship Series. From losing their captain, Derek Jeter, to a season ending injury, all the way to the worst hitting performance in playoff history, everything that could go wrong for the Yankees did and now there are tons of questions around where they should go from here.
While I wasn’t rooting against the Yankees, I can’t say that it doesn’t feel a little good that the always successful Yankees got a little dose of what it feels like to walk in the Mets cleats. The Yankees are the most successful and the most hated team in all of baseball so outside of the Yankees fans the baseball world is thrilled with this collapse. What the Yanks did in the ALCS was the single most pathetic offensive performance in PLAYOFF HISTORY! It’s pretty remarkable because after the historic 4-game comeback in the 2004 ALCS against their biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox, no one ever thought that the Yankees would be able to have a worse playoff series. Guess again people because this series against the Tigers was a hell of a lot worse. My fellow Sports Debater, NYBobby, stated in his ALCS preview (https://sports-debaters.com/2012/10/13/american-league-championship-series-preview-and-prediction/) that the Yankees would definitely lose if they continued to struggle at the plate. I guess he was right. This was the first time that the Yankees were swept in a playoff series since 1980. They had played in 36 playoff series since then which is a MLB record for most consecutive series without being swept.
We all saw signs of anemic hitting for the Yankees during their series against the Orioles, but not many people thought it would carry over to the ALCS. The Yankees had the highest payroll in all of baseball this season ($222 million), which isn’t a big surprise, but their playoff batting average sure was. The Yankees set a Major League Baseball playoff record with a microscopic .188 postseason BA. Even more pathetic then that was the fact that they only batted .157 in the ALCS, meaning that their hitting actually got worse from the Orioles series to the Tigers. The Yanks only scored an abysmal 6 runs throughout the ALCS and they never had a lead in any game. What is really bothering me about these disgusting hitting numbers is that analysts and fans are trying to place all the blame on the easy scapegoat, Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez was benched in 3 different games in the playoffs and seemed to be getting all of the heat for the Yankees struggles. Luckily for ARod (.111 BA in ALCS) , he was at least able to get some digits from some hotties in the crowd while being benched. While ARod is an easy person to point the finger at, he wasn’t close to being the only problem for the men wearing pinstripes.
The Yankees scored in just 3 of the 39 innings in the ALCS, which seems really hard to beleive but it’s true. The “savior,” or ARod’s replacement, Eric Chavez, hit for a big doughnut 0-16 with 8 strikeouts, which I think ARod could have probably managed to hit if he tried really hard. Robinson Cano (.056 BA in ALCS) and Curtis Granderson (.000 BA in ALCS) were destroying the ball all regular season long but once they entered the playoffs neither of them seemed to be able to make contact. Mark Teixeira (.200 BA in ALCS) seemed to be blind at the plate and the Yankees regular season role players, Nick Swisher (.250 BA in ALCS), Russel Martin (.143 BA in ALCS) and Brett Gardner (.000 BA in ALCS) all seemed like glorified minor league ball players. Ichiro Suzuki (.353 BA in ALCS) and Eduardo Nunez (.333 BA in ALCS) were the only breathes of fresh air for the polluted Yankees during this demolition that the Tigers performed on them. The only bad thing about that is Eduardo Nunez wouldn’t even have been playing if Jeter didn’t get injured, so as a consolation prize it kind of sucks.
While the overall numbers of the series surprises me, the end result does not. I said it for the entire season that the Yankees will not be successful come playoff time if they didn’t find more ways to score runs outside of the long ball. The regular season and the playoffs are two totally different animals. Ask the Texas Rangers who lost in two straight World Series entering this year and couldn’t even get past the one game playoff against the Oakland Athletics. This epic failure for the New York Yankees comes with a lot of questions for the upcoming season and unfortunately for Yankee fans, it doesn’t look too good.
George Steinbrenner must be rolling over in his grave as his “Evil Empire,” that he has built for over three decades is slowly unraveling. From the beginning of the season for the Yankees something felt off. The season was bookended with injuries to two of the greatest Yankees of all time, Mariano Rivera went down really early with a freak like season ending injury and Jeter went down at the beginning of the end during the ALCS. Pitching was never a problem during the sluggish playoff run, but the sweep against Detroit was finalized with the Yankees Ace, CC Sabathia, getting absolutely manhandled by the Tigers power lineup. I think that’s what they call a cherry on the top of the shit sundae the Yankees served their fans this postseason.
For pretty much any other team in all of baseball, a trip to the Championship Series would be considered a successful season, but the Yankees and their fans know that this season will go down as an epic failure. The Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager, Brian Cashman, has a lot of issues to focus on during the offseason and non of it will be easy. Do the Yankees try and dump some of these outlandish salaries like Granderson and ARod? Do we place some of the blame on Joe Girardi and try get him replaced? If they return, how much time does Jeter and Rivera still have left? Was this series an indication of where Robinson Cano’s career is heading? What pitchers do the Yanks need to resign and or go after? The questions are honestly endless, but there is a lot of fixing that needs to be done and it needs to be done fast.
Last weekend, I predicted a New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers American League Championship Series and after a week of tough, gritty baseball games, I was correct. Before I break down the ALCS, I must give credit to where credit is due. The Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics were not supposed to have had the type of seasons either of them had. They were both tough nosed, clutch and a lot of fun to watch. Each team was able to grind out a Game 5, and unfortunately for the A’s and O’s, neither team could match the Ace pitchers Justin Verlander or C.C. Sabathia. Kudos to both Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin for managing their clubs to the brink of the ALCS. The Yankees and Tigers can breathe a sigh of relief for a few hours today, but then get back at it tonight. In last year’s ALDS, these teams played each other evenly, however the Tigers ousted the Yankees in Game 5 in the Bronx, ending the Bomber season prematurely. The two teams also matched up in the 2006 ALDS, which was won by Detroit in 4 games, a series remembered by Joe Torre’s decision to bat A-Rod 8th (not too much has changed). The Yankees have revenge on their minds and this is how I see the ALCS breaking down…
Yankees Lineup: Theoretically, the Yankees will have a lineup consisting of Jeter, Ichiro, Cano, Teixeria, Rodriguez, Ibanez, Swisher, Granderson, and Martin. This lineup would consist of 3 future hall of famers and 9 players who have made All-Star games in their career. However, the big wild card in this lineup is A-Rod. After his Game 5 benching, it is unclear as to how much playing time he will receive in the next round. Eric Chavez batted over .500 against Detroit this year, and the fact that all the Tigers pitchers are right handed might lead Girardi to keep Rodriguez riding the pine. Everyone except Derek Jeter and Raul Ibanez struggled against the Orioles, especially Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson prior to his Game 5 homer. I expect the Yankees to come out of their slump and start hitting like they are capable of. As far as I’m concerned, it is mostly up to Robinson Cano to pick his game up, because he is the one player capable of matching the fire power that Miguel Cabrera brings to the Tigers. This is a veteran team, lead by Derek Jeter and they will look at the Orioles series victory as a narrow escape which can lead to a chance for bigger things to happen with the bats.
Detroit Tigers Lineup: The Tigers lineup as I mentioned in the ALDS preview is very top heavy. Miguael Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson and to a lesser extent Delmon Young carry the rest of the bats for Detroit. Quinton Berry, Omar Infante, Jhonny Peralta, Andy Dirks and Alex Avila are all good ball players who do the little things necessary to set up their studs. Peralta specifically has always done well against the Yankees, dating back to when he was a member of the Cleveland Indians. The Tigers are not as deep as the Yankees from 1 through 9, but the power Cabrera and Fielder can bring will definitely overwhelm the Yankees if they don’t hit better than they did against Baltimore. Even though Cabrera had the best season any of us have seen in a long time, it is Fielder’s power shooting toward the Yankee Stadium short porch that scares me the most.
Edge: Yankees (by a narrow margin)
Yankees Starting Rotation: The Yankees starting rotation of CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda and Phil Hughes pitched unbelievable in the ALDS. Sabathia is currently on an 8 game winning streak and looks as good as any pitcher in the bigs. In tonight’s Game 1, the Yankees will throw Pettitte who will be looking for his 20th postseason win in a career filled with big games. Kuroda and Hughes will fall in line, after both threw great games against the Orioles on consecutive nights. The Yankees have a rotation with incredible playoff experience, something that the Tigers did not see in their previous matchup with the Athletics.
Tigers Starting Rotation: Enough can’t be said about how good Justin Verlander is. Last year’s MVP grabbed hold of his team during Game 5 in Oakland and lead them to the Bronx. He’s an incredible weapon to have in a playoff series. Thankfully for the Yankees, the fact that he threw Game 5 against Oakland means they probably won’t face him until Game 4, meaning they will take their shots at Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer before the see the Tigers Ace. Last year, both Fister and Scherzer did great jobs against the Yankees in the playoffs. Fister is a sinker baller, and fits the profile of the type of pitcher who always gives the Yanks a hard time. Although the Yankees faced a lesser experienced rotation against the Orioles, they had a hard time generating any offense, which leads me to believe their struggles could very well continue against a better Tigers rotation.
Edge: Detroit Tigers (by a narrow margin)
Yankees Bullpen: If Mariano Rivera was in this version of the Yankee bullpen, some might say it is the best they’ve had in years. Rafael Soriano has done an incredible job filling in for Mo this year, which he carried into the Baltimore series. David Robertson was unbelievable in the Oriole series as well, pitching flawless baseball in tight extra inning games. In fact, everyone that Joe Girardi called on against the Orioles did their job to the best of their ability. Boone Logan looked great against lefties and I’m sure he’s already visualizing any future at-bats against Prince. David Phelps, Joba Chamberlain and the veteran Derek Lowe round out a bullpen that has done a fantastic job all year long filling in for their injured closer.
Tigers Bullpen: Jose Valverde is the most annoying pitcher on the planet. He dances, celebrates and frustrates his opponents, especially the Yankees in recent years. We saw Valverde experience a bit of a hick-up against the Oakland A’s, as he surrendered 3 runs to Oakland in the 9th inning of Game 4 to force a Game 5 and therefore lose Justin Verlander for Game 1 tonight. The Tigers will set-up Valverde up with hard throwing Joaquin Benoit, the young and arrogant Al Alburquerque, ex-Yankee Phil Coke, veteran pitcher Octavio Dotel and demoted starter Rick Porcello. The Tigers bullpen isn’t nearly as spectacular as the pen the Yankees just defeated in Baltimore, though a lot of these pitchers, especially Valverde, Benoit and Porcello have given the Yankees problems in the past.
Prediction for the Series: This will be a close series, similar to last year in which each team will be limited offensively. If the Yankees bats heat up a little bit, they will win fairly easily. If they hit like they did against Baltimore, the Tigers will win fairly easily. I expect something sort of in between. The Yankees are too good offensively to hit as they did in the ALDS as an entire team. I don’t think they will instantly be a team that catches fire, but they will certainly improve. The Tigers have scrappy players who will set up Cabrera and Fielder, who will certainly inflict some levels of damage in this series. Against almost every team in the league, Justin Verlander has the clear advantage, though the Yankees countering more of CC Sabathia closes the gap immensely. These games will be close and will come down to late inning heroics and solid bullpen play. In 2009, the Yankees had to jump over the Angels to capture their 27th World Series Championship, an Angel team who had beaten them in previous playoffs regularly. This time around, the Yankees need to get past another opponent in Detroit who has been a thrown as their side for some time now. It will be a close series but the Yankees will prevail in 7 games in front of the Bronx faithful. Yankees in 7.