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2012 New York Yankees Playoff Preview Q&A

Max Meyer |
October 6, 2012 | 2:37 p.m. PDT

Associate Sports Editor

Teixeira was an integral part of the Yankees leading MLB in home runs. (James DiBianco/Creative Commons)
Teixeira was an integral part of the Yankees leading MLB in home runs. (James DiBianco/Creative Commons)

The Yankees won the AL East and finished with the best record in the American League. However, the Yankees still have a lot of questions about their roster. Starting tomorrow, the Yankees face the magical Baltimore Orioles in the American League Divisional Series, a team they went 9-9 against in the regular season.

Here to tell provide the answers to the most pressing Yankees questions is Wallace Matthews from ESPN New York

1. What is the biggest obstacle that the Yankees will have to deal with when facing the Orioles in the ALDS?

Wallace Matthews: Their own tendency to go cold at the plate for no apparent reason, and that applies no matter who the opponent is. They certainly have enough talent to beat any team in the playoffs, I saw how they handled the Washington Nationals in June, but sometimes the whole lineup inexplicably goes into a slump, and in a five-game series, that could spell doom.

2. Even though CC Sabathia this season hasn't been as rock solid as he normally is, he's still the Yankees' ace. Who do you think the Yankees should name their No. 2 starter?

Matthews: Andy Pettitte, because he's a proven postseason performer who will not be overwhelmed by the moment. That, and because it will be 9 days since he last pitched by the time they get to Game 2. Too much rest is not good for Pettitte's cutter/slider. 11 games could be fatal.

3. The Yankees hit a franchise record 245 home runs this season. Do you think their over-reliance on the long ball can be a negative in the postseason?

Matthews: Yes, because of the caliber of the pitching they will be facing and because of their recurring problem getting timely hits this season. I think the presence of Ichiro in their lineup has rectified that somewhat, but still, teams that live by the HR die by it too.

4. Robinson Cano has been the hottest hitter in baseball over the past two weeks. Because of this, he hit in the cleanup spot in the Yankees' final game of the regular season. Do you expect Cano to stay there in the postseason lineup? 

Matthews: Yes. There really is no other candidate, now is there? 

Alex Rodriguez will need to step up his play if the Yankees want to advance in the postseason. (GFDL/Creative Commons)
Alex Rodriguez will need to step up his play if the Yankees want to advance in the postseason. (GFDL/Creative Commons)
5. Which slumping slugger will need to step up the most in order for the Yankees to survive in the postseason?

Matthews: Tex-Rod, meaning both the No. 3 and No. 5 hitters Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.

6. What kind of impact do you expect Brett Gardner to make in the playoffs for the Yankees?

Matthews: Don't know how much playing time he will see, but I could see him having the same kind of impact as a pinch-runner that Johnny Damon had with his two-base steal in 2009 under the right circumstances.

7. Who does Joe Girardi trust most in the bullpen outside of Rafael Soriano and David Robertson?

Matthews: Probably Boone Logan although a lot of nights I can't imagine why. I also think Derek Lowe has moved way up the ladder with his recent performances. And I have the feeling we could see David Phelps early in games if a starter, especially Phil Hughes, gets in trouble.

8. Joe Girardi has been criticized in the past for over-managing and that he often makes his decisions from his binder. With people watching Girardi's every move closely in the postseason, do you think his managing style will play a pivotal part in the postseason?

Matthews: Honestly, sometimes I think Girardi gets too much blame and not enough credit for his strategy, from myself included, but in postseason play his tendency to be very active with pitching changes could play a major role.

Thanks to Wallace Matthews for answering our Yankees questions. Check out the rest of our MLB playoff Q&As.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Max Meyer here. Follow him here.



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