As we go to press on Monday, the New York Yankees are in a very desperate situation as they prepare for Tuesday night’s third game of the ALCS.
Not only do the Yankees trail 0-2 in the best-of-seven series against Detroit, both of those losses came at home over the weekend.
And to make matters even worse the face of the franchise, shortstop Derek Jeter, was lost for the balance of the season when he broke an ankle late in Game 1.
History is much against the Bronx Bombers as teams that drop the first two games at home in a best of seven series come back to win less than 15 percent of the time.
Making matters worse is that in Tuesday’s Game 3 New York has to face arguably baseball’s best pitcher, Justin Verlander. And despite the virtual “must win” situation faced by the Yanks the line reflects the edge Verlander and Detroit enjoy. The Tigers are roughly -180 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.
Of course it might be fitting for the Yankees to fall behind 0-3 to the Tigers. It was in 2004 that the Yanks blew a 3-0 series lead to hated rival Boston that led to the Red Sox ending an 86-year drought by winning the World Series.
If you believe in the “what goes around comes around” point of view then perhaps a New York loss in Game 3 would not be the end of the world two months in advance of the ancient Mayans prediction.
But reality suggests Detroit is heavily favored to win the American League pennant and advance to the World Series.
Much of New York’s problems stem from a lack of hitting. With the exception of Mark Teixeira the meat of the Yankees lineup has been MIA. Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher are a combined 12 for 107 (.112) in the seven games against Baltimore and Detroit in the playoffs.
Cano has set a record with his current 0 for 26 stretch in the post season.
Pitching has been the theme of the AL playoffs with 9 of the 13 games staying UNDER the total. There have been just 3 OVERS in addition to a push.
The UNDER would seem to be the best approach to playing the balance of the ALCS, with Game 4 presenting the best chance for a low scoring game in a matchup of New York ace CC Sabathia against up and coming fireballer Max Scherzer. The Yankees will be either facing elimination or looking to square the series at 2-2.
The Yankees will try to avoid falling behind 0-3 on Tuesday as they send the inconsistent Phil Hughes to oppose Verlander. His inconsistency is best shown by his two efforts against the Tigers this season.
Both starts came in Detroit. On June 3 he pitched a complete game 4-hitter in a 5-1 Yankees win. Two months later on Aug. 7, he lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowing 4 earned runs in a 6-5 loss.
The Yankees have had modest success against Verlander this season, winning 2 of 3 games against the Detroit ace. In those wins the Yankees got to him for 5 runs on 7 and 9 hits respectively in a home win in April and a road win in June.
Verlander’s most recent start against New York resulted in a 7-2 home win in early August in which both runs he allowed were unearned.
Despite their hitting woes, the Yankees are worth a play in Game 3 at the high price in the range of +170.
The Yanks would also be worth a play in Wednesday’s Game 4, but if Detroit is in position to wrap up the series in Thursday’s Game 5 the Tigers would be the play.
Should the Yankees force a Game 6 back at home then New York would be the play in both a sixth and seventh game if laying no more than -150 or if made an underdog in a second start by Verlander.
Cards vs. Giants
In the National League, San Francisco looked to even up the NLCS against St. Louis on Monday night after losing Sunday’s opener 6-4.
A Cardinals win would put this series into a similar position as the ALCS with the road team having won both of the first two games.
This series features the winners of each of the past two World Series and as such neither team can be considered to have an edge in experience. Both teams do have solid starting pitching and strong bullpens.
The series resumes Wednesday in St. Louis with a likely pitching matchup of the Giants’ Matt Cain facing the Cards’ Kyle Lohse.
Through Sunday the road team has won 10 of the 12 games played in the NL playoffs. So much for home field advantage!
Yet the approach to be taken throughout this series is to play the home team when asked to lay no more than -120 when the Cardinals are at home. Should the series return to San Francisco wager up to -130 when the Giants are favored.
Should there be a game in which the road team is getting +150 or more – an unlikely scenario – then the road team would be worth a shot.
St. Louis was 50-31 at home in the regular season and the Giants were 48-33.
The Cardinals were just 38-43 on the road but the Giants were 46-35 away from home.
The teams split the six games they played during the regular season with the home team winning 3 and the road team winning 3.
The Totals were also evenly split with 3 OVERS and 3 UNDERS as the teams combined to average 8.7 runs per game.
The UNDER will be the preferred totals play throughout the series if priced at 7 or higher.
After winning on Sunday night the Cardinals are now slightly higher than 2-to-1 to win the NLCS after San Francisco opened at roughly -125.
The prediction still calls for the Cardinals to win the National League pennant in 6. Notwithstanding San Francisco’s sweep of the three games in Cincinnati in the NLDS, the Cardinals should take 2 of 3 in St. Louis (assuming they do not complete a 4-game sweep) and, if needed, at least one of the final two contests back in San Francisco.
Assuming no rainouts in a seven game series, next week’s column will preview the 2012 World Series which is scheduled to start next Wednesday, Oct. 24 in either St. Louis or San Francisco.
Andy Iskoe and his Logical Approach is one of the most popular statistical breakdowns in sports betting. Andy is also a longtime baseball and football columnist at GT. Contact Andy at Andy[email protected]