How the Yankees can beat Cleveland in game 2 of the Wild Card

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees did exactly what they needed to do to overcome the Cleavland Indians in game one of the AL Wild Card series. If they can secure a victory on Wednesday evening, they will move forward in the postseason, but they must get past Carlos Carrasco of Cleveland, who finished the regular season with a 3-4 record and a 2.91 ERA.

What the Yankees did against Shane Bieber matched up exactly with my analysis earlier this week. They remained patient at the plate and waited for his below-average fastball. Hovering in the 94 mph range, the Yankees did extreme damage on that specific pitch, which he throws a majority of the time. However, his curveball and slider are his two primary strike-out pitches, and the Yankees did a phenomenal job laying off them and waiting for the chance to strike.

Let’s take a look at Carrasco and what he brings to the table in game two:

According to FanGraphs, Carrasco throws his fastball 34.4% of the time, with a blend of alternative pitches, ranging from a change-up to a slider. He also sprinkles in his curveball and sinker. Overall, he has a solid array of pitches he can utilize against the Yankees, but he has the same weakness as Bieber. Hovering in the 94 mph range, his fastball is about average. I expect to see him throwing plenty of change-ups and sliders during the contest, but the Yankees must remain patient in game two and follow the same set of rules.

The Bombers struggled against curveballs, and that is not one of Carrasco’s primary pitches. So, in fact, this matchup is actually better for the Yankees than Bieber was, by a fair margin. Considering he had more losses than wins during the regular season, it also attests to the Indians’ lack of run support. They are not an above-average hitting team, as we saw on Tuesday evening. They were only able to muster three runs, given it was against Yankee ace Gerrit Cole.

However, Masahiro Tanaka is fully capable of dominating in his own right. He finished the regular season with a 3.56 ERA, his best since 2016. During the postseason, he only gets better, as he recorded a 2.45 ERA over two games last year. That was the highest his ERA has been in the postseason since 2016.

As long as Tanaka can refrain from allowing home runs, the Yankees can easily win this game and end the Wild Card early. But remember, they must remain patient and keep an eye on Carrasco’s fastball.