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Yankees 2015 possible playoff opponent: Texas Rangers

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Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The regular season is almost over, but the postseason picture is just starting to come into place. Most of the teams have been decided, but there is still time for them to change positions. Right now the Texas Rangers are in first place in the AL West after unseating the Houston Astros. If things hold the way they are, the Yankees will have to face the Astros in a one-game playoff to decide who advances to the Division Series. If New York wins, they would advance to play the Toronto Blue Jays while the Kansas City Royals will face off against the Rangers. Only if both teams advance would the Yankees go head-to-head with the Rangers in the ALCS to determine who represents the American League in the World Series. It seems premature to be thinking that far ahead, but if it comes to that, the Rangers could put up quite a fight in a best of seven series.

The Rotation

The team's rotation will be anchored by Cole Hamels in game one. Even though he hasn't been the same pitcher he was with the Phillies, Hamels is still one of the best in the game and actually has a good amount of postseason experience. They will likely send out Yovani Gallardo in game two, who did the noble job of leading the rotation in the first half of the season before they acquire Hamels. He's maintained a 3.41 ERA, but his strikeout rates have dropped considerably this year with a 5.78 K/9. Derek Holland had been out since April, but since returning in August, he's kept opponents to a 3.64 ERA and a .253/.298/.424 batting line. If he can stay healthy for the remainder of the year, he could be a major obstacle to anyone's playoff run. The last member of the Rangers' postseason rotation will probably be Colby Lewis, who has been a solid backend starter all year with an ERA in the low-4.00s. Good news for the Yankees is that neither Holland or Lewis have been very good against New York–both have life time ERAs above 5.00 against them.

Advantage: Yankees, if everyone stays healthy.

The Bullpen

The Rangers bullpen hasn't always been very good this season, actually ranking as one of the worst in the league over the first half of the season, but they have since turned things around. Shawn Tolleson has been a 2.71 ERA reliever all year and he dramatically improved the bullpen after he replaced Neftali Feliz as the closer in May. Along with Keone Kela, Sam Dyson, and Sam Freeman, the Rangers have been able to solidify things in the seventh, eighth, and ninth as well.

Advantage: Still the Yankees, sorry.

The Lineup

The Rangers offense has been pretty middle of the road all season long, but they have a few weapons going for them right now. Prince Fielder and Shin-soo Choo have made impressive rebounds in 2015, as Prince has hit .309/.383/.469 with 21 home runs and 84 RBI and Choo has batted .273/.371/.450 with 18 home runs and 69 RBI. They've more than made up for a disappointing season from Adrian Beltre, though the third baseman has been incredible in the second half with a .306/.364/.478 batting line. Good seasons from Mitch Moreland and Rougned Odor, as well as the acquisition of Mike Napoli, could also make things difficult for Yankees pitching. The Yankees and Rangers are fifth and sixth in runs scored this year and are second and first in runs scored against lefties, but where they differ is against right-handers with New York outscoring Texas by a considerable margin.

Advantage: The Yankees maybe have a slight advantage, but it's pretty even.

Of course, we have a long way to go before we see the Yankees and the Rangers face off in a playoff series again. Unless the Astros are able to take back the division in the next few weeks, a New York-Texas series will have to wait, if both teams can even make it that far.