"Just don't get swept!" Alright, it makes for a piss poor rallying cry, but that's all I really expect from the Yankees this weekend. With both the Yankees and Red Sox likely headed to the playoffs, a lot of the juice has been taken out of this weekend's series.
Assuming the Yankees can eek out at least one victory, here are the subplots that interest me most.
- Will Roger Clemens be able to return to his July '07 form? We are never going to see a vintage Clemens again. However, the Yankees desperately need him to be a solid 3rd starter from here on out. This is not exactly the kind of discussion we thought we would be having about a man making nearly $20 million for 4 months of work, but here we are. Without Roger Clemens pitching at least at his pre-elbow inflammation level, the Yankees' will have a spotty postseason rotation.
- This series will have serious AL Cy Young Award implications. With less than three weeks left, the field is still wide open. Sabathia, Santana, Carmona, Lackey, Escobar, Verlander, Beckett, and Wang all have legitimate shots at the award. Putting my pinstriped pom poms down for a moment, Wang probably has the least compelling case of the 8 men listed above. However, voters love wins like SYHD contributor loves Italian jokes. If Wang clearly outduels Beckett on Saturday's nationally televised game, he'll probably be the guy to beat. Let's say for argument's sake, that Wang finishes the season 21-6 with a 3.50 ERA and nobody else gets 20 wins (a distinctly plausible scenario), who is going to win the Cy Young Award? Escobar and Lackey will siphon off votes from one another. The same will likely be true of Sabathia and Carmona. Johan Santana already has two Cy Young Awards and will not win more than 18 games. If the Yankees make the playoffs, Detroit will not. Rightly or wrongly this will hurt Verlander's candidacy. I am not saying Wang will deserve the award, but if he pitches well down the stretch, I think he is the odds on favorite.
- Besides batting lefty and throwing righty and possibly having ancestors that fought for the Axis Powers, Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui have something else in common. Both are struggling mightily. Matsui is 4 for his last 33. Giambi is 5 for his last 43. I'd like to see these gentlemen show some life this series.