ALCS Game 1 Preview: Yankees

If the Rangers can’t have Cliff Lee pitch the opening game of the ALCS, they could do a lot worse than C.J. Wilson as his stand-in. In his first full year as a starter Wilson shined, throwing 204 innings to a 3.35 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 4.20 xFIP, and 3.81 tERA. He now faces his toughest challenge of the year in the Yankees lineup.

As his rate stats indicate, Wilson can be tough on many hitters. The average quality of opponent he faced was .252/.320/.387, but he held them to a .217/.311/.311 line. He was especially tough on lefties, holing them to a .144/.224/.176 line — that’s just five extra base hits, all doubles, out of the 171 lefties he faced. The three lefties in the Yankees lineup could face some trouble this evening.

With a 49.2 percent ground ball rate, Baseball Reference would classify Wilson as a groundball pitcher, since he ranks in the top third of the league. This makes him even tougher against the Yankees. They hit groundball pitchers to the tune of .263/.343/.394, which is far worse than they hit fly ball pitchers. They’ll get a couple of those later in the series, but tonight they’ll be facing someone who matches up well against them in that regard.

The one thing that might undo Wilson this evening is his walk tendency. He led the league with 93 walks this season, while the Yankees’ offense drew the second most (and third wasn’t even close). Wilson faced the Yankees three times this season and walked nine batters in 14.1 innings. He actually pitched pretty poorly against them overall, allowing nine runs on 18 hits. The Yankees hit .300/.408/.350 off him, quite a bit better than Wilson’s season average. That’s because the Yankees lineup is quite a bit better than the average hitter Wilson faced this year. The nine starters tonight combined to hit .275/.357/.465 on the season.

The average hitter against CC Sabathia this season hit .254/.324/.395 and he held them to a .239/.301/.355 line. As is the case with Wilson, Sabathia will face a lineup considerably better than that this evening. The Rangers’ starting nine hit .290/.350/.454 on the season. They also tend to hit groundball pitchers a bit better than fly ball pitchers. That doesn’t exactly bode well for Sabathia, who kept about half of his balls in play on the ground.

The Rangers have seen Sabathia just once this season, and that came all the way bak in April when they lost to him in a rain-shortened game. Wilson was on the hill for that game as well, though it was in New York. The Rangers lineup has changed completely since that time, so if there’s even a shred of predictability in other previous match-ups, there certainly is none here.

Tonight’s match-up might not be ace against ace, but it comes close. Wilson presents a formidable challenge for the Yankees. If he can avoid the walk problems that hurt him against them this season we could see another brilliant playoff performance. As long as the long break between starts doesn’t affect Sabathia’s command, he too should be able to hold down the Rangers’ lineup. In a battle between two of the league’s best offenses, we could definitely see a pitchers’ duel tonight.

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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

9 Responses to “ALCS Game 1 Preview: Yankees”

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  1. TFINY says:

    Did CC and Lewis really hold opposing batters to identical triple slashes, or did you accidentally get mixed up? Pretty cool if they did.

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  2. Utgoto says:

    So the average hitter against Sabathia hit .254/.324/.395 and he held them to .217/.311/.311.

    Does anybody have this info on King Felix? Maybe this could debunk the myth that Sabathia has it so much harder in the AL East.

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  3. CircleChange11 says:

    The key for Wilson and any other pitcher facing a high quality lineup is to understand that you will give up both walks and hits, but to do everything you can to keep from giving them up in the same inning. That’s obvious but true.

    The focus should be on limiting the scoring to “non-crooked” numbers. Whoever avoids the 3-run inning, likely wins the game. If you give up a HR make sure it’s a solo shit and the result of you being aggressive in the strikezone, rather than nibbling with men on and either falling behind and having to come direct in a hitter’s count or by missing your location and missing in the strikezone.

    The margin for error for both guys is drastically reduced. This would not be a fun game for either guy to pitch in. The good news for both hurlers is that keeping your team within 2-3 runs allows either team a shot at the win. Those bullpen specialists are likely the key, as they’ll probably enter the with guys on base.

    This should be a good series to watch. Good, patient hitters are tough, as you have to make multiple, quality pitches in each at bat.

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  4. noseeum says:

    Postseason baseball. You gotta love it. And it looks like I’ll be at game 3! First playoff game at Yankee Stadium. So psyched.

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  5. king says:

    alcs game,e i preview. can i get some link about this?

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  6. king says:

    if you know some information on ineternet ,you can go through everything and get the result

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  7. filihok says:

    Is there an easy way to get the average quality of opponent faced data.

    This is pretty interesting way to look at a pitcher

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  8. Tisa says:

    I hope you never stop! This can be one of the best blogs I have ever read. Amazing.

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