On Twitter Sunday night, Benjamin Kabak of River Ave. Blues made a very valid point about the tough task the Yankees face with Cliff Lee potentially pitching against them in two of the five remaining ALCS games scheduled. I think it is very fair to be concerned about Cliff Lee and his mastery of pitching, but I feel that the discussion about that point has unnecessarily risen to a decibel level that rivals that of cries that the sky is falling. It is imperative to recall that there are several things that the Yankees have going for them against Cliff Lee that should (somewhat) dampen the concerns of Yankee fans.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Firstly, let us not forget that in the 2010 regular season, the Yankees were tops in the American League in wOBA at .347. They also led the AL in OBP (.350) and were third in SLG (.436). The Yankee line-up is stacked with professional hitters; it is not impotent by any stretch of the imagination and has the ability to hold its own against even a world-class pitcher like Lee. (As a side note, it should be noted that, while the southpaw Lee enjoys similar success against both lefties and righties, the Yankees' line-up is mostly RH or switch-hitting, and that of their three regular LHB, only Curtis Granderson posts a poor platoon split. So there's that.)
Secondly, people should take solace in the fact that Cliff Lee actually is not a robot. He is as vulnerable to being sup-bar as every other major-league player. It is not outside the realm of possibility that Lee does not pitch well in this series. If the Giants' middle-of-the-road offense (.318 wOBA, 9th in the National League) managed to put some chinks into Roy Halladay's armor, the Yanks could certainly manage something against Lee.
Last, but certainly not least, anything can happen in the playoffs. It is often said that the playoffs are a crapshoot; teams are at the mercy of luck in five and seven-game contests. Anything can happen in a series, from Francisco Cervelli getting a big hit to a future Hall of Famer like Alex Rodriguez going 1 for 16. So it shouldn't be a surprise if Lee falters; anything can happen in the sample size of one or two games.
The intention of this article is not to understate the ability of Cliff Lee; he is an amazing pitcher whom the Rangers were savvy enough to trade for this summer. With that said, he is not invincible, and the Yankees have, bar none, the best offense in baseball. Yes, having to potentially face Lee twice over the next five games is unfortunate, but it definitely does not spell the end for the Yanks.
Posted by George E. Hadjiconstantinou at 12:53 PM