Sadly these series' have too many days off and you can pitch only 2 starters in 80% of the games. With all the issues people have about the game, this is the one I would fix asap and play all 5 games back to back. This way you judge a team just like you did over the regular season where you use your entire team. Having Rivera has been a huge difference for us, partially because he can pitch in every game and not be tired...kind of silly.
OK, so what do we know about Minnesota?
Their two closers are Capps and Fuentes they picked up from the Dodgers. Capps is a mediocre closer (42 saves for them with an OPS against of .688),…Fuentes is a lefty killer having an OPS of under .400 against them (.696 righties), although most was in the NL. He is the guy who was on the Angels squad
First, Morneau is out for the entire playoffs...so this is a blow to Minny's offense. That being said, Minnesota has played a lot better since he went down and they have been without him for awhile so the impact is really not that big. Of course, the reason why they have been playing better is not because of his absence as Morneau was having a great year with 18 homers and an OPS of 1.055 in 80 games. Cuddyer moved from RF to 1st base, but his OPS is about .750 so obviously others have stepped up.
One guy in particular is their DH…Jim Thome. He has a huge lefty righty split with a mediocre .769 against lefties, but a dominating 1.153 against righties. At his age the back has been giving him some problems, but he has been hitting great with a 1.158 OPS in the 2nd half...yeah, that is incredible. This is NOT a guy you want to be facing a rigthty in a key spot. Overall, his numbers in 131 AB's since the All Star game are .313/.448/710! And yes that is against both righties and lefties. Makes you wonder why Cashman didn't get Thome for 1.5 million...
The Twins rough lineup:
Denard Span CF – bats Lefty and usually leads off and I am not sure why? This is one of those let’s get our fast guy at the top of the order even though his OPS is .679 (OBP of .331). He only has 26 SB’s but has only been caught 4 times (that is very effective). He hits both lefties and righties the same. Span previous to this year has been a little better against lefties
Orlando Hudson 2B – Switch Hitter - Hudson is usually at the top of the order as well and he shouldn’t be as well. .710 OPS (.338 OBP) who hits both the same as well.
These two guys are weak at the top and must be kept off the bases.
Joe Mauer C – STUD – Mauer is a lefty who is better against righties. His OPS this year was .871 and he had a large discrepancy against lefties with an OPS of .711/.978. In past years the OPS differential was 100 points; either way getting a lefty on his makes sense.
Thome DH (see above for stats) Having a lefty to face him or keep him on the bench is smart.
Delmon Young – Bats righty - LF – Solid .826 OPS hitter who really hits lefties (.927) but has an acceptable .780 OPS against righties…
Kubel RF – Bats Lefty - .750 OPS who has a .792 against righties and .655 against lefties.
Cuddyer 1B Bats Righty - .753 OPS who hits lefties very well. .875/.700 shows a very large split.
Valencia 3B – bats Righty – this guy has played well for Minnesota since he grabbed the job. OPS of .799, he has crushed lefties in his 100 AB’s batting .374 with a .966 OPS (.713 righties)
Hardy SS – righty .714 OPS who hits righties better than lefties (.615 L) and (.759 R), but in previous years he was .140 OPS points better against lefties. I would not worry too much about the matchup game against him.
Outside of Hardy, and the top 2 guys, the matchup game works very well, this is why it is asinine to not have 2 lefties in the pen…even if just for Kubel, Thome and Mauer…I could see every time Thome gets up and our starter is out to have Ring face him and then later have Logan face him…I just don’t get why the Yanks want Burnett as a long man to leave Ring off the roster. Isn’t one long man enough with Mitre? I mean truthfully, if you are going to a 2nd long man you are probably in some trouble, let alone a 3rd. Mitre has pitched very well out of the pen and I would have kept him and dropped Moseley or AJ for Ring. I can promise you there will be many times where Ring would make sense, while AJ and Moseley collect splinters (even if I did say AJ would probably be a good reliever). BTW, Mitre as a reliever has an OPS against of an excellent .598 in 138 AB’s and has been a little better against lefties. Logan is really a one man pitcher or maybe 2 lefties out of 3 as he really struggles against righties but has been great against lefties. Still amazed with our payroll this has not been taken care of??? Let me repeat, why keep both AJ and Moseley on the postseason roster instead of Ring? My roster would drop Moseley and keep AJ and Ring.
Our lineup in brief with lefty righty OPS splits:
Jorge Posada C (.833/.799)
Mark Teixeira 1B (.941/805) Big split this year – usually even
Robinson Cano 2B (.857/.944)
Alex Rodriguez 3B (.747/.899) Alex is usually better against righties
Derek Jeter SS (.872/.633) Liability against righties this year
Brett Gardner LF (.726/.778) 47 SB’s – play him all the time (could pinch hit later)
Curtis Granderson CF - .646/.866 – Been better of late, bad matchup game 1
Nick Swisher RF – (.848/.877) please keep this up!
Lance Berkman DH (.517/.846) should not see a lefty
Marcus Thames DH (.812/.896) yes, this was surprising, but I would start Berkman against righties
Cervelli, Kearns, Golson and Pena are the bench guys. This is correct, although Nunez for Pena has been talked about. I am OK with this though.
Kearns doesn’t get up unless an injury or a possible pinch hit for Granderson against a tough lefty or if we need a homer and Gardner is up against a lefty killer in the last inning with 2 outs. Oh, also if Berkman is up against a lefty. That being said, if Cervelli is not in, I would pinch hit his .845 OPS against lefties.
The game 1 starters:
Liriano - .670 OPS against and an ERA of 3.62. He throws hard, but his best pitch is his slider, it is a top notch pitch. He is really tough on lefties as they have an OPS of .517 against him compared to the righties OPS of .713.
CC – pretty close against both sides of the plate (overall .656 OPS against).
What do I think?
We have won the last 3 series against the Twins dropping 2 games while winning 9. But, the Twins are 53-28 at home (41-40 on the road) so they are very tough there.
We have been playing so poorly and Girardi has been so off that it is hard to say, but I do think we are better than Minnesota and our offense is clearly better as is our defense. Our #1 starter is better so I predict us winning in 4. Obviously, the CC game is critical; if we lose game 1 we probably will not win the series.