12 Aug 2012 11:50 AM EST
-by Justin O’Reilly, Contributing Writer; Image: Rookie Mike Trout has some already asking if he’s the best player in the big leagues. (Image Source: Getty Images)
Coming off a tough series against the Detroit Tigers last week, in which the New York Yankees were able to take the final two games to split the series 2-2, the Bombers responded against a potential playoff foe.
With the playoffs just about two months away, looking forward, the Yankees will have some stiff competition. As it stands, the Yankees, Rangers, and White Sox would win their respective divisions, with Tampa Bay and Oakland taking the two wild card spots, and Los Angeles, Detroit, and Baltimore all in striking distance.
Guessing that both the Rangers and Yankees spots in the playoffs are mostly secured, it leaves three more spots that are somewhat up in the air, and about six teams are fighting for them. Right now, the biggest threat to the Yankees will be the Los Angeles Angels. While Texas currently has the second-best record in the American League, it is the Angels whose talent from top to bottom could be a threat for the Pinstripes, especially in a short playoff series.
Predicting that the Angels do end up in one of the two wild card spots, they'd have a one-game playoff with, lets say Oakland. Arguably, their best pitcher, is Bartolo Colon, who is a great starting pitcher, but when he's going up against the likes up Jared Weaver, with the big bats of Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Albert Pujols hitting back-to-back-to-back, that's a tough win for any pitcher.
Now with the possibility of the Yankees taking the Angels in the next round, a best of five series, the Bombers will still have to deal with the rest of the Angels rotation, and every arm they will throw at New York’s lineup is just as effective as the last with CJ Wilson, Dan Haren, and Zack Greinke, leaving Weaver in line to pitcher either game four, or game three on shorter rest.
The Yankees do have CC Sabathia [hopefully] and Hiroki Kuroda, but past that, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, and Freddy Garcia have been inconsistent. Though the Yankees will most likely have Andy Pettitte back by then, the rotation advantage still points towards the Angels, especially in a first to three situation.
While one could argue the Rangers also have talent from top to bottom, the Angels have done it to the Yankees before, and with the way they've played lately, it would come as no surprise if the bats get shut down by Angels pitching. However, the Yankees can go on hot streaks, and their bullpen has been a consistent force all season, and most likely their greatest asset.
It'll be a tough run, but the Yankees have proven themselves once again to be one of the best teams in baseball, and they won't go down without a fight.
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