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ALCS case for Texas Rangers: Expect a mid-series swing

Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee Photo Credit: Getty Images

Games 3 and 4 will be when the Rangers take control of the ALCS. On Monday, ace Cliff Lee will make his next start. Lee — not the Phillies’ Roy Halladay — is baseball’s best starter. That was evidenced in the ALDS when he held the high-octane Rays offense to a pair of earned runs through 16 innings in two starts. He also fanned 21 Rays batters without permitting a walk. Yankees fans might be thrilled their team doesn't face Lee in the ALCS opener, but it will in Game 3, the swing game, when Lee can do the most damage.

The Rangers’ powerful offense could tee off on A.J. Burnett when he starts Game 4. The $82.5 million righty struggled so much toward the end of the regular season (7.09 ERA in last nine starts) that he was banished from the ALDS rotation. Eight homers in five ALDS games showed how much the Rangers offense can decimate the opposition. Not that the Yankees will go down easy.

Rangers in 7

Key stat: The flip side of patience
The Yankees batting order has supreme plate patience; their 662 walks ranked second in the majors in 2010. That patience could backfire when they face Lee, who threw a first-pitch strike to 43 of the 60 batters (72 percent) he faced in the ALDS. Lee finished fourth among all starters with 3.54 pitches per plate appearance during the regular season. His 7.8 K/9 rate means a first pitch strike can quickly lead to a strikeout.

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