Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ New York Yankees - America's Best

August 11, 2012; Toronto, ON, CANADA; New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart (19) waits in the dug out for his at bat against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE

The Rangers don't win in New York very much. In the best era of Rangers baseball, from 2009-now, the Rangers are 4-11 at Yankee Stadium in regular season play. Comparatively, in the then best era of Rangers baseball, 1996-99, the Rangers were 7-16 in New York. New stadium, old stadium. It didn't matter. In the now second best era, the Rangers won the first ever playoff game they ever played in New York and then lost the next five. The Rangers did have success in this era in New York one time. It was time then, after all. In 2010 the Rangers went 2-1 in New York in October to propel themselves past the haunting of the 1990s.

The Rangers don't often play the Yankees in August with the best record in the league at stake, either. Perhaps the only other instance where something comparable happened would be the time in late August of 1999 when the Yankees came to Arlington with a 75-48 record to the Rangers' record of 75-50. The Yankees won that series and the hopes of home field throughout the playoffs dimmed a bit.

By the end of the season the Yankees held on to their better record than the Rangers by three games in the American League standings. Then, having already clinched the division, the Rangers were leapfrogged by Cleveland by two games at season's end after getting swept by the Angels in the final series of the season. Instead of playing Wild Card Boston, the Rangers were doomed to play the Yankees--at Yankee Stadium--in the postseason yet again. In those days, that meant a quick and early demise. The Rangers had their best team ever and were sentenced to death.

In the late '90s, thoughts of the postseason being a crapshoot seemed moot when it involved the Yankees. They just won. The Rangers were helpless to leave it up to fate because fate, talent, money, mystique, ghosts, history and all that baloney were already always on the Yankees' side. But man, it feels different now. We'll find out in October if it is different for good. But it feels that way now. Maybe we'll get a taste of that starting tonight. There's no doubt that the Yankees are a very good team. They're always a good team. They're always a threat to come out of the American League with the pennant. But so are the Rangers now.

Winning in New York could be the next step in adding to the feeling of inevitability when it comes to the prospect of facing the Rangers in October. These four games don't mean a heck of a lot because, regardless of the outcome, these two teams will still be in the hunt for best record in the American League with a lot of baseball to play. But it sure would be fun to see the Rangers scare up some ghosts of their own.

Monday, August 13 6:05: RHP David Phelps vs. RHP Ryan Dempster

Tuesday, August 14 6:05: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Matt Harrison

Wednesday, August 15 6:05: RHP Freddy Garcia vs. RHP Scott Feldman

Thursday, August 16 12:05: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Derek Holland

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the second best team in the American League New York Yankees:

  • Ryan Dempster: 6-5, 7.41 K/9, 2.42 BB/9, .255 BABIP, 80.0% LOB, 3.63 FIP, 3.76 xFIP, 2.2 WAR - Last three starts: 11 runs allowed in 17.1 innings
  • David Phelps: 2-3, 9.69 K/9, 3.29 BB/9, .262 BABIP, 87.7% LOB, 3.71 FIP, 3.60 xFIP, 0.6 WAR - Last 15 innings (includes last start on July 4): 1 run allowed in 15.0 innings

Advantage: Ryan Dempster's Colbyosity over David Phelps having three pitch count-limiting starts on the season. Though, Phelps is pretty good. All it would take is using his 75-80 pitch limit to get five good innings in and then get it to the Yankees good bullpen.

  • Matt Harrison: 13-6, 5.34 K/9, 2.58 BB/9, .296 BABIP, 77.8% LOB, 3.85 FIP, 4.18 xFIP, 2.9 WAR - Last three starts: 11 runs allowed in 18.1 innings
  • Hiroki Kuroda: 10-8, 6.96 K/9, 2.16 BB/9, .289 BABIP, 78.1% LOB, 3.77 FIP, 3.71 xFIP, 2.9 WAR - Last three starts: 6 runs allowed in 20.2 innings

Advantage: Hiroki Kuroda over Matt Harrison in Slappy's Nightmare only because the Yankees are at home, these two pitchers have extremely similar numbers, and Kuroda has pitched better of late.

  • Scott Feldman: 6-7, 5.94 K/9, 1.94 BB/9, .295 BABIP, 62.1% LOB, 4.02 FIP, 4.24 xFIP, 1.4 WAR - Last three starts: 6 runs allowed in 21.1 innings
  • Freddy Garcia: 6-5, 6.69 K/9, 2.42 BB/9, .313 BABIP, 68.1% LOB, 4.12 FIP, 4.08 xFIP, 1.0 WAR - Last three starts: 7 runs allowed in 17.0 innings

Advantage: Feldmania rolls into the Big Apple ready for the big stage over would you just go away already Freddy Garcia? Freddy Garcia just needs to end his career with the Angels next season for him to have a career of playing for all of the least likable teams.

  • Derek Holland: 7-6, 7.41 K/9, 2.89 BB/9, .257 BABIP, 67.7% LOB, 4.91 FIP, 4.22 xFIP, 0.9 WAR - Last three starts: 13 runs allowed in 20.1 innings
  • Ivan Nova: 11-6, 8.28 K/9, 2.72 BB/9, .333 BABIP, 73.7% LOB, 4.40 FIP, 3.81 xFIP, 1.8 WAR - Last three starts: 18 runs allowed in 17.2 innings

Advantage: Ivan Nova has his highest strikeout rate of his career, minor league or otherwise, by over a full K per 9 and is a nearly a full three Ks per 9 better than his rate from last season. What? Still, Nova has given up more runs than innings collected over his last three starts. Overall though he--and practically everyone--has had a better season than Derek Holland. At least Holland finally got his FIP out of the 5.00s. If Derek Holland truly turned the corner in his great start last time out, he's a better pitcher than Nova but we've been teased so many times before, and Holland has been terrible against the Yankees in his career.

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New York Yankees (67-47, 1st Place AL East)

Rangers Record vs. New York: 2-1 (All at Ballpark)

New York's Recent Results: 2-1 series win against the Toronto Blue Jays

New York's Home Record: 34-22

Yankee Stadium Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 143/110 - Runs: 120/100

SB Nation Yankees Blog: Pinstripe Alley

Match-up: (as of 08/13) Rangers Yankees Advantage
Batting (RAR) 54.5 (4th) 84.2 (2nd) Yankees
Base Running (RAR) 0.0 (17th) 2.6 (10th) Yankees
Starters (RAR) 69.7 54.7 Rangers
Bullpen (RAR) 40.3 (4th) 48.3 (2nd) Yankees
Defense (UZR) 21.2 (4th) -12.6 (22nd) Rangers
Overall (UZR + RAR) 185.7 177.2 Rangers

Questions to Answer:

  • Does New Yankee Stadium seem any different to you? A couple of years in and it seems like they just spent a ton of money to build the same place.
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (Josh Hamilton reminds the New Yorkers of the time they chanted his name.)
  • Over/Under: 4.5 pop ups to right field that barely leave the yard but are counted as home runs in this series?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by David Phelps in a spot start tonight?
  • Do you respect Derek Jeter?
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