With the Rays and Rangers headed for a sure to be thrilling Game 5 in their ALDS series, I wanted to get a vibe for who our readers are rooting for in that series. Both teams would provide a strong matchup for the Yankees, but each has different stengths and weaknesses that could create unique issues for the Yankees. As I see it, these are some very rudimentary reasons that we might want/not want to face each team (Once the opponent is known, Stephen will dig a lot deeper into that team in his multi-part preview).:
Texas: Texas has struggled a bit against lefties this season, and as Steve showed us this morning, it would be feasible for the Yankees to throw lefties in 5 of 7 starts in the series. On the other hand, they do have some righty hitters, particularly Nelson Cruz, who can carry them if their key lefties have been neutralized. The Texas bullpen has looked a bit shaky in recent days, and the Yankees have not found Neftali Feliz impossible to hit. As for the Texas rotation, Cliff Lee and CJ Wilson provide a daunting lefthanded duo, and make me think that TB might be the easier matchup. Finally, from a novelty point of view, it might be fun to see the Yankees play a young team from another division rather than a club that the Yanks played 18 times during the regular season.
TB: Tampa has fairly even platoon splits, but with Evan Longoria a bit banged up, they might be susceptible to lefthanded pitching as well. The back of their bullpen does not scare me, but the front end of Soriano and Benoit are as good as it gets among remaining playoff teams. The TB rotation has some question marks, and with David Price not slated to go until Game 3, the Yankees would likely have a chance to get a quick start in the series against James Shields and Matt Garza (who they usually hit fairly well). Finally, the rivalry with Tampa really took a step forward this season, and an epic ALCS would be a great continuation of a fun regular season race.
I lean very slightly towards prefering Tampa, mostly because of the respective rotations and because I have felt all season that these two clubs were destined for an unforgettable 7 game ALCS. Larry at Yankeeist has already chimed in on the issue, prefering to see Texas win Game 5.
Which team would you prefer to see?