Judging by the e-mails I’ve been getting, most Yankees fans seem to agree that playing the Twins in the first round would be better than playing the Tigers because the Tigers have stronger starting pitching in Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson. And that’s true.
But could you make the case that the Twins are actually the worse match-up?
After all, they’ve got the best pure hitter on either team (in Joe Mauer), an elite closer (in Joe Nathan), a bigger home-field advantage, some speed (Denard Span), some power (Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel) and they’re by far the hottest team in baseball. If they win tomorrow, they’ll have won 17 of their last 21 to get into the playoffs. In 2007, the Rockies finished as strongly as the Twins – Colorado won 14 of its last 15, including a play-in – and rode the momentum to the World Series.
If the Tigers win, they’ll stumble in having nearly blown a lead that was seven games on Sept. 6 and three games with four to go.
Could the Twins do the same thing the Rockies did even with pitchers like Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Carl Pavano and Jeff Manship? Could the Tigers be more of a hungover punching bag? Would the Yankees really be better off playing the limping Tigers?
(Nah. Starting pitching counts the most. I still think they’re better off with Minnesota.)