The Yankees won’t have home-field for the ALCS, but that might not matter as they are the slight favorites to win the pennant and return to the World Series. Pitching will clearly play a huge role in the outcome of this series.
Rangers vs Yankees
By being pushed to limit by the Rays, the Rangers were unable to save Cliff Lee for the start of the ALCS. Instead, Lee will start Game 3 with C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis squaring off against CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. Wilson and Lewis are actually projected to fare very well in the first two games at home while Lee starting the third game puts him in line to pitch a potential Game 7. Lee in the deciding final game of the series is obviously a big advantage (projected 60/40 over Andy Pettite) but it does preclude the possibility of three starts in the series or an appearance out of the bullpen.
The biggest source of angst for Yankee fans is probably the inclusion of A.J. Burnett as the fourth starter in the rotation. That fear might be slightly misplaced as New York is a 60 percent favorite in Burnett’s projected Game 4 start at home because he will be going against Tommy Hunter. While Hunter has much better season-long numbers than Burnett, he doesn’t have strikeout stuff (4.78 K/9) which is a problem against a lineup as potent as New York’s. Burnett at the very least has the talent edge, and has performed in the playoffs in the past.
Overall, Texas has the edge in the first three games of the series, and will need to jump on the Yankees to have a good shot at advancing. Lee is the trump card for the Rangers in a potential Game 7, but New York has a large forecasted advantage in games 4 through 6. The Yankees will try to end the series before it goes the distance.