You can breathe now New York Yankees fans. They beat Oakland in the AL Wild Card Game and now have an ALDS matchup against Boston starting tomorrow. I’m here to break it down.
Pitching: In what came as a surprise to nobody, J.A Happ was announced to be the Starter for Game 1 against Chris Sale and the Red Sox and Masahiro Tanaka in Game 2 against David Price. The rest of the rotation hasn’t been announced yet, but I think Wild Card Stater Luis Severino will start on regular rest against Rick Porcello, and C.C Sabathia in Game 4 against former Yankee, Nathan Eovaldi.
Happ has a great track record against Boston with a career 2.98 ERA against the Red Sox and a 3.27 ERA in Fenway. Sale has established himself has one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball, but struggled in the postseason last year and saw his velocity dip in every start since coming off the DL. Tanaka has struggled against the Red Sox this year, but he has a 1.44 ERA in four career playoff starts.
Price has struggled both against the Yankees and in the playoffs with a ERA’s close to five. Severino pitched four shutout innings allowing only two hits against Oakland and Porcello has a 5.47 career playoff ERA. Porcello also has mixed result against the Yankees. He has pitched good against them overall, but struggles at Yankee Stadium. This year he pitched 18 innings of one run ball in three starts against the Yankees at Fenway, but gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings in his only start at Yankee Stadium.
Eovaldi has dominated the Yankees this year with a 1.93 ERA in four starts against the Yankees. C.C has been shaky against the Red Sox this year but overall pitches better at Yankee Stadium.
The pitching matchups could change depending on the first two games. If it is 1-1, we might see C.C pitch Game 3 so the Yankees can save Severino for Game 4. If the Red Sox down 2-1, you could see them bring back Sale on short rest, or at least make him available out of the bullpen.
The Yankees also have a better bullpen. There bullpen has a 3.38 ERA, while Boston’s bullpen only has a 3.74 ERA. Aroldis Chapman is back in the Closer role for the Yankees. After letting up a home run in his return from the DL, he has pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts. They have a solid bridge featuring Zack Britton, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Chad Green. The Red Sox have an elite closer in Craig Kimbrel, but their bridge is not as strong.
Offense: The Yankees and Red Sox have two of the most prolific offenses in Major League Baseball. The Yankees broke the record for single season home runs and the Red Sox are led by MVP candidates J.D Martinez and Mookie Betts. The Red Sox have other good offensive players like Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts, but the Yankees have a deeper lineup overall.
The stars Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Martinez, and Betts are going to hit. Stanton and Judge have hit a combine .360 with 10 HR’s and 27 RBI’s against Boston. Bets and Martinez have a combined 7 HR’s and 35 RBI’s. The X-Factor’s for the series are Gary Sanchez and Steve Pearce. Sanchez has slumped this year, but batting .303 with 8 Home runs in 18 career games at Fenway. Pearce is a Yankee killer. He is hitting .288 with 15 career home runs in 64 games against the Yankees.
Fielding, Base running, and Managing: Managing is almost even. Both teams have rookie managers and won over 100 games. The have the clear advantage in baserunning. Three of their regulars have more stolen bases than Brett Gardner, who leads the Yankees in stolen bases with 16. However, the Yankees have a big advantage defensively. According to Sports Info Solutions, the Red Sox are last among all playoff teams with -26 defensive runs saved. That is 50 less than the Yankees who have 24. The biggest culprits are Bogaerts, Eduardo Nunez, and Rafael Devers are a combined -51. Nunez and Devers will like platoon, as will Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt at second.
Advantage: Yankees Fielding, Red Sox baserunning, managing even
Prediction: I think overall the Yankees matchup better against Boston than any of the other teams in the American League playoffs. They lost the regular season series 10-9, but they are 8-6 with Judge in the lineup against Boston and would have avoided the four game sweep in early August had Andujar made a good throw to first in the 9th inning on Sunday night. I think most of the pitching matchups favor us, especially since Chris Sale doesn’t appear to be physically right. While I like the matchup, I think Betts will end his postseason struggles and winning 108 games is hard. I think the two teams will return to Yankee Stadium tied at one and the Yankees make the most of their home field advantage games 3 and 4.
Result: Yankees in 4