Do or die. Win or go home. Those are the stakes for the New York Yankees and Oakland A’s tomorrow night when they square up in the Bronx. The winner of the American League Wild Card Game will get the Boston Red Sox on Friday, while the loser gets to go on vacation. The Yankees bring a record of 100-62 into Wednesday, while the Athletics hold a 97-65 record. Here’s everything you need to know about the match-up to impress your coworkers at the water cooler tomorrow.
Where to Watch
The game will be televised on TBS and first pitch is scheduled for 8:08pm ET.
The two teams will approach the play-in game with wildly different pitching strategies. Aaron Boone announced today that the Yankees will go the conventional route, starting Luis Severino (19-8, 3.39 ERA) despite his second half struggles. Severino slumped mightily through July & August, but finished September with back to back quality starts. The Yankees are hoping that he’s regained his form and will be back to his dominant ways tomorrow night. Severino was only able to get one out in last year’s WCG and gave up three runs in the process. It will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure of the moment tomorrow night. Here’s Severino’s press conference from this afternoon:
The A’s will be the first team in postseason history to employ the “opener” strategy. Reliever Liam Hendriks (0-1, 4.13 ERA) will get the ball to start the game, but is only expected to pitch the first inning. The Athletics will then look to use a platoon of bullpen pitchers to get them through the rest of the game. This is a strategy that’s been employed through most of the season by the Tampa Bay Rays and used nine times by the A’s. In those games, the A’s posted a 1.86 ERA, but went 4-5. The A’s bullpen is a strength and they will look to use a combination of Mike Fiers, Jeurys Familia, Shawn Kelly, and Blake Treinen after Hendriks.
I don’t expect either the A’s or the Yankees to change much in terms of their lineups. Expect to see something very similar to these two:
- McCutchen LF
- Judge RF
- Gregorius SS
- Stanton DH
- Sanchez C
- Hicks CF
- Voit 1B
- Andujar 3B
- Torres 2B
Note: This will be the first playoff game for Stanton, Voit, Andujar, and Torres.
- Martini LF
- Chapman 3B
- Lowrie 2B
- Davis DH
- Olson 1B
- Piscotty RF
- Laureano CF
- Semien SS
- Lucroy C
Note: Khris Davis led the majors with 48 home runs this season. The A’s lineup is made up of seven right handed batters, the only exceptions are Matt Olson (left) and Jed Lowrie (both).
I expect Severino to have a short leash against the A’s powerful lineup. They finished third in home runs and have shown that they are capable of hitting in any ballpark they play in. The Yankees are back to full strength after injuries to Judge, Gregorius, and Sanchez, while the core of the A’s lineup has stayed consistent for most of the season.
You know we like to gamble here at the BarnBurner. Here’s how Vegas has the match-up listed:
The oddsmakers favor the Yankees to win the play-in game and advance to play the Red Sox. The 8.5 run line makes me believe that Vegas is expecting the winner of this game to put up a good amount of runs. With two strong bullpens, an early outburst could be all that’s needed to move on in this one. As for me, I’m riding with the Yankees and homefield advantage. Yankee Stadium will be rocking tomorrow evening and the forecast is projecting to be 70 degrees. I think the returns of Judge and Didi Gregorius, along with it being Stanton’s first playoff game, to give the Yankees an early spark that they’ll need. Severino will need to be sharp, but ultimately I think the Yankees’ lineup will show that they are back to full strength. My prediction: Yankees advance in a tight one 5-2.
See you tomorrow night.