The Great ALDS Unknown


Will we see him Friday night? (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

We’re down to the final day of the regular season, and we still don’t know the wildcard team for either league. That makes for what should be a very exciting night, but there is still something else that has yet to be determined, and that’s the Yankees ALDS opponent. The only thing we know for sure is that Game One of that series will be this Friday night in Yankee Stadium, and CC Sabathia will be on the mound. Everything else is kind of up in the air.

As of this moment, the Yankees would play the Tigers in the ALDS. However, if Detroit wins tonight and the Rangers lose, the Yankees will play Texas. That’s the only scenario in which the Yankees would play a rematch of the 2010 ALCS in the 2011 ALDS. Anything other than a Tigers win and a Rangers loss results in a rematch of the 2006 ALDS. We could argue about which team we’d rather see the Yankees face from here until first pitch on Friday, but the bottom line is that both of those teams are really, really good. They’re not in the playoffs by accident.

If you want the Yankees to face the Rangers, it’s likely because you like the way the Yankees matchup against Texas’ left-handed starters and/or fear the duo of Justin Verlander and Doug Fister. If you want them to face the Tigers, then it probably has to do with the Rangers’ prodigious offense and the general shakiness of Detroit’s pitching staff behind the two guys at the top of the rotation. There’s a million other factors we can consider as well (the Rangers’ bullpen, Miguel Cabrera, etc.), but here’s the thing to remember: it’s a five-game series, and five-game series are very prone to volatility.

That’s why I’m not all that concerned about who the Yankees face in the ALDS. It’s going to be a tough assignment either way, and the best possible matchup isn’t guaranteed to manifest itself in a short series. Sure, the Yankees might do really well against Texas’ left-handers across 162 games, but anything can happen in a best-of-five. Verlander is likely to pitch to a sub-3.00 ERA across 34 starts, but one bad pitch in the ALDS changes everything. It probably sounds like a cop-out, but it’s true. Weird things happen in baseball all the time, and the impact of the weird stuff magnifies in short playoff series.

If you’re going to put a gun to my head, I guess I’d rather see Yankees-Rangers than Yankees-Tigers. I’d prefer to have New York play as many games in hitters’ parks as possible, in part because that’s how their team is built. Verlander (and to a much lesser extent, Fister) is phenomenal, but he’s not unbeatable, and I’m pretty confident in the Yankees scoring runs against pretty much anyone. Just keep that in mind when you’re scoreboard watching tonight, there’s no such thing as a great matchup in a short series*.

* Unless the Yankees are playing the Twins.

Categories : Playoffs


  1. Donnie23 says:

    I remember being thrilled when the Tigers fell into our laps in 06, thinking it was the best possible situation. 4 games later the season was over.

    I’m done pulling for opponents. We get who we get.

  2. Jorge says:

    I am definitely less afraid of facing Texas. Their pitching staff doesn’t care me in the least. Verlander and Fister scare the bejeesus out of me.

    • David, Jr. says:

      You would be less scared of Fister if you saw the teams that he has faced. I can’t find the article where I saw it, but since coming to Detroit he has faced a whole pile of junk like Kansas City and Cleveland a bunch of times. This is where this unbalanced schedule with 18 games against divisional teams can be illusory.

      No question he has done very well for Detroit, but if the Yankees are afraid of a guy named Fister, they aren’t going to win anything.

  3. BJ says:

    Are you sure about the playoff opponent? If the Tigers win tonight and the Rangers lose, they’ll have identical 95-67 records. What’s the determining factor in that situation?

    • The Fallen Phoenix says:

      Head-to-head. Tigers have a better head-to-head than the Rangers, so they’d be higher-seeded, and the Yankees would face the lower-seeded Rangers.

      • BJ says:

        Head-to-head against the Yankees? What are the Rangers’ and Tigers’ respective records against us this year?

        • The Fallen Phoenix says:

          No, head-to-head against each other. Tigers won the season series against the Rangers.

        • Sweet Dick Willie says:

          No. Head to head vs each other. Tigers are 6-3 vs Texas this year, hence they get the 2 seed.

          Not that it’s relevant, but since you asked, the Rangers are 2-7 vs the Yanks and the Tigers are 4-3.

          • BJ says:

            Very interesting. That makes considerably more sense than comparing their records against the Yankees, I’m not sure why I assumed that. Thanks for the info, guys.

  4. bong hitter says:

    great ill go light one up

  5. Jesse says:

    I don’t care who the Yankees face. Doesn’t matter to me. Both teams are tough. Just play the game and see what happens.

  6. neaks says:

    Verlander would be a rematch of opening day this year, and we managed that one fine

    • Bill says:

      You can’t really compare that situation to facing Verlander right now. He wasn’t pitching nearly as well then as he has been in the second half.

  7. BK2ATL says:

    I’m not buying the Detroit starting pitching after Verlander. Fister looks great against the AL Central slop that he feasted on. While he did beat Tampa last month, we’re seeing that Tampa’s offense isn’t really that stout. You can work around Cabrera and Martinez in that lineup, limiting the damage. Other than Valverde, their bullpen is pedestrian. They don’t field particularly well.

    Texas has Wilson and the rest. They don’t scare anyone, but that offense can certainly put up runs on any pitcher and in a hurry. Their bullpen is deep and effective. They are defensively decent.

    I’d rather take my chances with Detroit, if there was a choice. I still got the Yanks winning the ALDS in 4.

  8. Bill says:

    I really hope that we get Texas in the ALDS. Texas doesn’t beat us last year if Cliff Lee wasn’t pitching. Their pitching doesn’t scare me at all, and I think the Yanks would win in 4 at the most if they faced the Rangers. Detroit has Verlander and Fister has been great (LOL), and they’re that team that we see a lot of years that gets hot down the stretch and goes deep in the playoffs. I think the Yankees could beat either team, but as a fan I would be more comfortable facing Texas.

  9. LiterallyFigurative says:

    I prefer the Rangers, if for no other reason than revenge for last year’s ALCS.

    Outside of that, who you play and when you play them isn’t that important. You’re going to have to beat the best teams to win a ring anyway.

  10. Dennis says:

    I favor Texas also especially the way we hit lefties with Montero and Jones in the lineup.

  11. Lou says:

    The last couple of years, the Yankees have not played well in Detroit. I agree that without Cliff Lee the Yankees would have won last year. What I hope is that they face them both!

  12. MattG says:

    I’ll take Detroit. Sabathia is the closest thing the AL has to Verlander (and when you factor in quality of opponent, its a lot closer than many not named Keith Law will credit), and the rest of that team (not named Avila or Cabrera) is pretty lousy. The Yankees will find a way to get three runs off Verlander in game 1, and Fister won’t complete 6 in game two.

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      and the rest of that team (not named Avila or Cabrera) is pretty lousy.

      Eh, that Victor Martinez guy is pretty good. He also get bonus points because his middle name is Jesus.

  13. Monteroisdinero says:

    Texas for sure. Lefty pitching, ballpark in Arlington and JESUS.MONTERO.

    • Bill says:

      I’m not sure you mentioning Jesus Montero in all of your posts is incidental or by design. I’m leaning towards the latter.

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        I didn’t mention him in my Betances/Brackman or any other pitching posts but when it comes to the offense/who would we rather face etc., yes I will mention Montero by design. He has plenty of right field power and a quicker bat than Posada.

        Not too many have argued the point that he is one of our 3 best hitters yet he doesn’t play in half our games. I will continue to champion him for the good of our team and his development.

    • Sarah says:

      Plus one for Texas because I live here.

  14. MattG says:

    Actually, I want to change my answer. I want to play them both. Order doesn’t matter.

  15. Kiersten says:

    Didn’t Leyland say Verlander won’t be pitching on three days rest? Because Detroit is a lot less scary if we’re only getting Verlander twice ans Fister once rather than both of them twice.

    But like Mike said, these Yankees can beat anybody.

  16. JohnC says:

    Be careful what some of you wish for. I learned that in 07 when Yanks swept season series from Cleveland and of course, lost in 4 in the ALDS

  17. Kevin says:

    We couldn’t hit Colby Lewis in the 2010 ALCS, CLiff Lee was the least of our problems.

  18. mustang says:


    Don’t want to face Verlander in short series.

  19. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    As the great Maffia boss may have said “anybody can be hit”.

  20. detroit_yankee says:

    “Just keep that in mind when you’re scoreboard watching tonight, there’s no such thing as a great matchup in a short series”

    Two Words: Minnesota Twins :)

    They’re always fun to play in a short series.

  21. Nick says:

    In games pitched by Verlander/ fister this season we are 3-0 so im confident that we will beat at least one of them

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