So here it is. The moment we’ve all been waiting for since the Yankees bottomed out at 21-29. It’s time for Game 1 of the ALDS and time to take another stab at securing that elusive 27th World Championship.
So far, in preparation for the playoffs, we’ve looked at why the Yankees won’t beat the Indians and why they will win. We worried a bit about Bob Sheppard and watched three other games yesterday as well as a riveting and controversial Wild Card playoff on Monday. What’s left to do?
Oh, that’s right. We have to debate the Yankees’ choice of Game 1 pitchers. The comments from here on down in the post on the Yankees’ playoff roster began a discussion I was planning on having, and Jay Jaffe over at Baseball Prospectus elaborated in his massive playoff preview piece. Let me quote the relevant passage from Jay:
Make no mistake: this Yankee rotation and its deployment may be the team’s downfall in this series. As good as Wang is, he’s shown a decisive enough home-road split (2.75 home/4.91 away this year; 3.04/4.62 career) to prefer that he not start in Cleveland once, let alone twice if the series goes five games. Pettitte has enough postseason experience (34 starts, 212 innings, 4.08 ERA, 14-9) to add a line to his resume virtually identical to his 2007 stats.
Therein lies the rub. While Chien-Ming Wang may be the ace of this staff for now, does it make sense to expose one of your weaknesses in starting your ace on the road? Andy Pettitte could easily be your games 1 and 5 starter based on his season success, and going with Pettitte, Hughes, Wang, Mussina/Clemens isn’t exactly terrible.
Hopefully, Jaffe is wrong. Joe looked through some of the game logs, and Wang’s bad starts on the road are few and far between. While the Taiwanese sinkerballer has a higher number of better starts on the road, which pitcher doesn’t? Last night, the numbers weren’t in John Lackey’s favor in Boston and he had another rough Fenway outing. But Wang’s numbers on the road are much better than Lackey’s were at Fenway.
But, hey, what fun is a playoff game without a little pitching controversy beforehand? Meanwhile, I’m standing by my prediction: Yanks in 4 after a game 1 loss. Maybe I’ll be wrong there too.
Chien-Ming Wang P
Play nice in the comments. Big game today.
Update 4:21 p.m.: There were rumors of an accident involving Doug Mientkiewicz this morning, and we can confirm the info right now. Mark Feinsand at Blogging the Bombers has the story. Mientkiewicz, leaving the team bus, was run over by a Cleveland photographer. His ankle is taped, but he should be good to go at first tonight. Not only has Doug been stellar in the field, but he’s hitting .424 over his last 10 games. We’ll update this if something changes.