This development is incredibly good fortune for the Yanks, who (mostly) struggled against both power lefties this season. While neither Lee nor Price is infallible, and though the Yankees did manage to get to both pitchers one time each this season, they are inarguably two of the top five lefthanders in the American League (I'd probably round that top five out with CC Sabathia, Jon Lester and Francisco Liriano), and each pitcher's ability to routinely completely dominate the Yankee lineup cannot be overlooked.
I'm having a fair amount of trouble figuring out which team to root for tomorrow night, so I thought I'd take a look at the numbers:
Here are Lee's career numbers vs. the Yanks, including the postseason:
Here's what Lee did in his three starts against the Yankees in 2010:
|12||206||76||Jun 29||SEA||@||NYY||W,7-4||CG||W(7-3)||5||9.0||8||4||3||1||2||2||0||2.45||35||115||58||.71||0.224||0.73||1b start tie||9b 3 out a3|
|20||214||113||Aug 11||TEX||NYY||L,6-7||GS-7||4||6.1||8||4||4||0||11||0||0||2.57||27||106||52||.94||-0.048||-1.29||1t start tie||7t 1-3 1 out a2|
|25||219||143||Sep 12||TEX||NYY||W,4-1||GS-9||W(11-8)||11||8.0||2||1||1||3||5||0||0||3.28||28||109||76||.97||0.307||3.12||1t start tie||9t 1-- 0 out a3|
Here are David Price's career numbers against the Yankees:
And here's what price did in 2010 against the Yankees:
|1||29||4||Apr 9||TBR||NYY||W,9-3||GS-8||W(1-0)||99||7.2||7||3||3||3||7||0||0||3.52||33||111||57||.68||0.079||0.58||1t start tie||8t 123 2 out a6|
|18||46||91||Jul 18||TBR||@||NYY||L,5-9||GS-5||L(12-5)||10||5.0||7||7||7||4||3||0||0||2.84||25||96||24||1.20||-0.420||-4.37||1b start a 3||5b 3 out d4|
|28||56||143||Sep 13||TBR||NYY||W,1-0||GS-8||5||8.0||3||0||0||2||4||0||0||2.75||27||114||78||1.23||0.573||4.39||1t start tie||8t 3 out tie|
|30||58||152||Sep 23||TBR||@||NYY||W,10-3||GS-6||W(18-6)||4||6.0||8||3||3||4||7||1||0||2.84||30||107||47||.87||-0.057||0.16||1b start tie||6b 3 out a5|
So in 2010, Lee threw 23 1/3 innings and gave up eight earned runs (3.12 ERA) over three starts, while Price tossed 26 2/3 and gave up 13 runs (4.47 ERA) in four starts. However, the bulk of Price's runs were ceded in the one bad outing he had against New York in July. If you remove that outing from Price's ledger he threw to a 2.55 ERA against the Yanks this year.
Price has held the Yankees to a lower OPS, though there are a couple of caveats -- the Yankees have faced Lee more often and some of the numbers in that table were tallied off the pre-2008 version of Lee, who by all accounts was a drastically different pitcher.
Lee of course also has two big postseason starts against the Yankees, which represented the Phillies' only victories in the 2009 World Series. In Game 1, Lee put on an absolute pitching clinic, hurling a complete game, giving up one run, walking no one and striking out 10, while in Game 5, a slightly less sharp Lee went seven innings and allowed five runs but still picked up the victory anyway.
Still, I can't quite decide which team I'd prefer the Yankees to face. Obviously it comes down to more than just Lee or Price, but those pitchers are so pivotal to their teams' successes and are so capable of shutting the Yankee lineup down anytime they face them that it's difficult to say one would be preferable to the other.
After Lee, the rest of Texas' rotation doesn't put quite the same scare in me. C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter all had nice years, but a pitcher like Wilson -- who had the second-highest BB/9 in the AL -- plays right into the Yankees and their top-OBP-in-the Majors hands'; Lewis' year, while very good, screams fluke; and Hunter's a pitch-to-contact guy who had a fairly lucky year, significantly outpitching a rather ugly FIP (4.99) and posting a 4.70 xFIP and 5.17 tERA.
As for the Rays, after Price the Yankees should be able to hit "Big Game" James Shields despite being handcuffed several times in the regular season, and they've also typically been able to get to Matt Garza. Wade Davis is the wild card here, who gave up 8 runs in 21 innings (three starts and one relief appearance) in 2010 for a 3.43 ERA, but has probably emerged as Tampa's second-most reliable pitcher, and only yielded more than three earned runs three times in the last three months of the season (with two of those instances coming against Minnesota, randomly enough), a span of 13 starts.
Both teams' bullpens have been lights-out all season. The Rangers boast a slightly stronger offensive attack (though not by much), while the Rays make the most of their chances when they do put men on base. The Rays are also a touch more likely to wreak havoc on the basepaths, though the Rangers are certainly no slouches when it comes to putting pressure on pitchers and taking the extra base.
After running through Price's and Lee's numbers and this quick-and-dirty non-analytical take on each team's strengths, I'm still not entirely sure who I'd prefer the Yankees to face in the ALCS. Both teams come at you with a very similar gameplan that features strong starting pitching and outstanding relief pitching, while Texas's offensive attack probably relies a bit more on power and the Rays' a bit more on speed.
Given that the Rays and Yankees had to battle it out 18 times in the regular season andTampa Bay routinely proved to be quite the pain-the-neck to dispose of, while the Yankees only faced Texas eight times, and in those contests only saw CC Sabathia and Andy Petitte make one start apiece -- all the way back in April -- and Phil Hughes start against the Rangers zero times, I would say the starting pitching match-ups against the Rangers (non-Cliff Lee division) significantly favor the Yankees in a hypothetical ALCS. Additionally, the Trop seems to depress offense pretty severely, while the Ballpark in Arlington has always been a hitters' paradise; another point in the Yankees' favor.
Based primarily on the Rangers' barely having seen the Yankees' Games 1 through 3 starters all season, along with the offense-boosting tendencies of the Ballpark, at this point I think my preference would be for a Yankee-Rangers ALCS. However, I'd be very interested to hear what everyone else thinks.