MLB Playoff Preview – New York Yankees
By Jeff Dickson, Director of Food & Beverage
You know the names, you know the story. Behind Derek Jeter, Mariano River, CC Sabathia and MVP candidate Curtis Cranderson the New York Yankees won the American League East and are once again a heavy favorite to return to the World Series. While the familiar names have made headlines by reaching milestones this season (Jeter reaching 3,000 hits, Rivera setting the all time saves record) it has been members of the new Yankee era that have done much of the heavy lifting this season.
Sabathia (19-8, 3.01 ERA) has turned in another Cy Young caliber season while leading an interesting mix of a rotation behind him. While A.J. Burnett, the supposed number two starter, has struggled mightily to the tune of a 5.28 ERA, the Yankees have counted on a couple of surprising veterans and a young right hander who pitched himself into a permanent rotation spot. Freddy Garcia (11-8. 3.77) and Bartolo Colon (8-9. 3.81) have cooled a bit after hot starts, but still have held up better than most could have imagined. But it has been 24 year old Ivan Nova (16-4, 3.62) who may have saved the rotation after the struggles of Burnett, and should be the number two man behind Sabathia heading into the playoffs.
The story of the year, however, has been that of Granderson. Always a duel threat with his speed and power potential, Granderson is among the league leaders with his 41 home runs to go along with 24 steals 119 RBI. The biggest improvement he has made this season has been his performance against left handed pitching, which had been his biggest offensive weakness. This year he actually has a higher batting average against lefties than against righties (.277 vs .266) and leads the league in home runs off of lefties with 16. The short right field porch in the new Yankee Stadium probably gives Granderson a slight offensive boost, but there is no doubt that he has been one of the best players in the majors this season.
The bullpen has been anchored by Mariano Rivera, which has been the case for what seems like a lifetime. Aside from setting the all time saves record, Mo has had another tremendous season with 44 saves and a 1.95 ERA. What may separate the Yankees from the pack is the fact that this year the bullpen has a clear 8th inning setup man in a dominant David Robertson. With a 1.11 ERA and a 13.36 strikeouts per nine innings, Robertson is as tough to hit as any reliever in the game. The rest of the Yankees bullpen is solid, but with these two at the back end teams will have to get to the Yankees in the first 7 innings to have their best chance to win.
How the Yankees can lose:
After Sabathia the rotation has some question marks, especially if they are matched up against an American League offense such as the Texas Rangers, which is what the matchup would be if the season ended today. If the back end of the Yankee rotation struggles it may not matter how well Sabathia pitches or how well Granderson and the offense hits the ball.
How the Yankees can win:
If Sabathia and Nova continue as they have all season long and they can get quality starts out of either Garcia or Colon the offense should hit well enough to carry the team through to the World Series. A strong October from the bullpen should help pick up the slack of the veterans in the rotation if they aren’t able to deliver long performances.
Jeff is entering his second season with the ‘Dads and first as the director of food & beverage. The Oneonta, NY native joined the Crawdads in 2011 as a concessions assistant, and has previously worked with the Oneonta Outlaws as a sports marketing intern. Jeff is a die-hard fan of the Philadelphia Phillies and North Carolina Tar Heels.