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ALDS Game Three Preview

Mood Music - Heartbreaker by Led Zeppelin

Well, this could be it. After two impressive road wins against the Minnesota Twins, the New York Yankees return to the Bronx with the opportunity to close out the ALDS in front of their home fans (including a blogger you may have heard of). The pitching match-up promises to be another good one, with the Yankees young star Phil Hughes facing the impressive Brian Duensing.

Phil Hughes - 29 starts, 176.1 IP, 4.19 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 4.33 xFIP, 7.45 K/9, 2.96 BB/9, 1.25 WHIP
Brian Duensing - 13 starts (53 games), 130.2 IP, 2.62 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 4.10 xFIP, 5.37 K/9, 2.41 BB/9, 1.20 WHIP

While, as always, I am supremely confident when the Yankees take the field, Duensing might be the type of pitcher that the Yankees have trouble with. He will feature a fastball in the low 90s (91.1 MPH average), a slider, a change up, and the occasional curveball. In addition to being a "finesse lefty," the Yankees have a very limited number of at bats against him.

The Yankee who has faced Duensing the most is Curtis Granderson (2-7, BB), and the only Yankees who have enjoyed success against him are Derek Jeter (1-3, HR), Robinson Cano (2-4, 2B), and Marcus Thames (3-6, 2B). Hopefully the Yankees can overcome their phobia of unfamiliar pitching and knock Duensing out of the game early.

For the good guys, the 'Phil Hughes pitching at New Yankee Stadium' fear has been realized. For whatever reason, Phil Hughes has posted a very drastic home/away split (4.66 ERA, 5.06 FIP at home, 3.47 ERA, 3.02 FIP on the road) this season, causing many of us to wonder if he would be used at New Yankee Stadium during the playoffs. I weighed in on this subject during the regular season and opined that Hughes' struggles at home were more a result of sample size than the short porch in right field.

Hughes should have the exposure factor on his side (no Twin has more than five at bats against him), and the only Twins batter to hit a home run off of Hughes (Justin Morneau) is not playing in this series. Hopefully the Phranchise can put together a quality start and turn over a comfortable lead to the bullpen (and hopefully there is a better showing from the umpiring crew).

Your game thread will appear at 8:15.