ALCS Preview: The Cliff Lee Show

The postseason belongs to Cliff Lee. And that’s why the Texas Rangers got him.

After the 5-1 complete game win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the ALDS, Lee has quietly put together an impressive playoff resume. He is 2-0 going into the Rangers ALCS series with the New York Yankees, and has 21 strikeouts. Going back to last year with the Philadelphia Phillies, he is 6-0 in 7 postseason starts with a 1.44 ERA. Those numbers rank among the best in playoff history.

What makes the upcoming series interesting is the possibility of Lee, scheduled to pitch Game 3 at Yankees Stadium, auditioning for a chance to wear the pinstripes next year. The lefty is on the open market after the season and on the radar of many teams. The Rangers snuck in and stole Lee out from under the Yankees before the trading deadline when he was with the Seattle Mariners. All signs pointed to him heading to the Big Apple, even Lee himself believed it. But the Rangers pulled the right strings, and here we are.

Some might remember last year’s World Series when Lee was with the Phillies. In Game 1 at Yankees Stadium, he had the Bronx Bombers off balanced. The 2 World Series losses by the Yankees were at the hands of Lee.

Rangers team president and co-owner Nolan Ryan has made it clear the organization wants to keep Lee in Arlington. That helps make the series even bigger than it already is.

Here is a look at the ALCS mound match-up:

Game 1: CC Sabathia vs C. J. Wilson

Game 2: Phil Hughes vs Colby Lewis

Game 3: Cliff Lee vs Andy Pettitte

Game 4: Tommy Hunter vs A. J. Burnett

Game 5, 6 and 7: TBA

The series begins in Arlington before shifting to the Bronx. The Yankees start the series on the road, but they have been there before. Plus they have owned the Rangers in the playoffs, 9-1 all time. But that was a decade ago, and these are two completely different organizations now.

The up-start Rangers against the playoff veteran Yankees, a tough one to pick. If Texas is ever going to break through against the Yanks, you would think this is the year.

At the beginning of the playoffs, I picked a Yankees-Phillies World Series rematch. I’m sticking with that.

Written by C. James


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