There are not many years where people could say that the most anticipated playoff series is in the divisional round. However, the New York Yankees facing off against the Tampa Bay Rays is expected to be must-see TV for all baseball fans.
The Rays had their way with the Yankees winning eight of the ten regular season matchups. The bombers just couldn’t get over the hump against the Rays. One of the games that the Yankees won was started by their ace, Gerrit Cole.
In that game in Tampa Bay, Cole went 4.2 innings but struck out 10 while giving up 3 runs. It was his fourth start of the year, and he just ran out of gas in the fifth innings. The Rays beat Cole in their second matchup on the year.
However, Cole has turned a corner for the Yankees in the month of September. Cole went 3-1 with an ERA of 1.00 in September and struck out 34 batters in 27 innings. Cole made his Yankees postseason debut against the Indians where he went seven innings and struck out a season high 13 batters.
Gerrit Cole has been known to be a slow starter. His year is actually on pace with where he was a year ago when he turned the corner for the Astros. When Cole got hot, he couldn’t be stopped as the Rays found out last year in the ALDS.
Can Cole repeat history for the Yankees?
Last year, the Rays pushed the Astros to the limit. However, they couldn’t get by Gerrit Cole. Cole started two games and he won both games pitching a combined 15.2 innings, striking out 25 batters and only giving up one run.
Had the current Yankees ace not been a member of the Astros, the Rays would have likely made the ALCS last year. Cole will get the ball twice in this years’ ALDS barring a sweep by either team. Cole will be the starter in game one and game four for the Yankees.
If Cole can pitch the way he has over the last month, the Rays could be in a lot of trouble. In my opinion, it’s easier to be the underdog after a season of losing to one team. The Yankees an an underdog are a very dangerous team.
It’s hard to imagine calling a team an underdog when they will have Gerrit Cole starting two games in a five game series. However, that’s the position the Yankees are in. The Yankees are hot right now with the bats, but the blueprint to victory in the ALDS starts with the $324 million man, Gerrit Cole.