It’s do-or-die time in the Bronx. The Major League Baseball playoffs are here, and the New York Yankees, despite having wowed fans with 100 wins in 2018, could see their postseason come to an end before it really begins.
With wild cards played in a single-game elimination format, the New York Yankees (100-62) will have to fend off the Oakland A’s (97-65) in the American League Wild Card game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The winner advances to the AL Division Series.
Both teams have stellar bullpens, so this playoff game might come down to which team scores first. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists the Yankees at -190 to win the Wild Card, and has the A’s are +175 underdogs.
The Yankees won 100 games yet finished in second place behind the Red Sox in the AL East. Even though they are led by a rookie manager, Aaron Boone, the Yankees are on a mission to go to the World Series — especially after losing to the Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series last October.
The A’s finished in second place in the AL West after a late-season surge. The A’s last postseason appearance occurred in 2014 when they lost to the Kansas City Royals in the Wild Card.
Oakland A’s (97-65) vs. New York Yankees (100-62)
Where: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
When: 8 pm ET
Betting Line: Yankees -190 / A’s +175
OAK Liam Hendriks (0-1, 4.31 ERA)
NYY Luis Severino (19-8, 3.39 ERA)
Out the Box in Oakland
Oakland was the birthplace of Moneyball, so it’s not unusual to see the A’s think outside of the box when it comes to competition against superior teams. Manager Bob Melvin opted to go with a relief starter in the Wild Card. And why not? The A’s have one of the best bullpens in baseball with a 3.37 ERA, which is tops in the American League.
The bullpen is anchored by closer Blake Treinen (28 saves, 0.78 ERA). Manager Bob Melvin’s squad is 70-1 when leading after 7 innings in part due to stellar pitching from Lou Trivino.
“Oakland is a very good team and a dangerous team,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “We know we’ve got to play really well to beat them. If they get a lead, they can shorten that game on you.”
The A’s are led by slugger Khris Davis, who led the majors in home runs with 48.
The Yankees have home field advantage, but the As power hitters Davis, Jed Lowrie (23 HR, 99 RBI), and Matt Olson (29 HR, 84 RBI), can take advantage of the short porch in right field.
New Yankees Boss, Familiar Face
Aaron Boone, former third baseman for the Yankees, won 100 games in his first season as a manager and he will be coaching in his first postseason game.
The major key to this Wild Card game is scoring first and then handing off a lead to the bullpen. The Yankees are 72-17 when they score first, while the A’s are 64-22.
The Yankees are 77-4 when leading after 7 innings because of a deep and dangerous bullpen led by closer Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Bettances, David Robertson, Zach Britton, and Chad Green. This season, the Yankees bullpen had a team ERA of 3.38.
The Yankees tapped their right-handed ace Luis Severino to start in the Wild Card. In two starts against the As this year, Severino went 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA. In last year’s Wild Card game against the Minnesota Twins, Severino struggled and was pulled in the first inning.
“It should be Sevy. He’s our ace,” said Aaron Judge.
The Bronx Bombers lived up to theri moniker when the Yankees set a MLB record for most home runs in a season. They pulled off the feat with star sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez missing time with injuries.
Starting shortstop Didi Gregorius is still nursing a wrist injury he incurred during the last weekend of the season, but the Yanks rely on a deep bench that includes utility man Neil Walker.
Outfielder/DH Giancarlo Stanton will be making his first postseason appearance in pinstripes. Stanton led the Yankees in homer runs with 38.
The Yankees relied on a trio of rookies this season: Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, and Luke Voit. Miguel Andujar is a Rookie of the Year candidate after hitting .297 with 27 HRs, 92 RBIs and a team-leading 47 doubles.
During the regular season, both teams went 3-3 against each other. The Yanks took 2 out of 3 early in the season in the Bronx. The A’s won 2 out of 3 in Oakland in early September.
The sportsbook at the Westgate in Las Vegas currently offers the Yankees as 10-1 odds to win the World Series, while the A’s are the longshot on the board at 14-1.