Oakland Athletics @ New York Yankees: ALWC edges to the home side
The National League Divisional Series are set after Colorado's 2-1 win over Chicago last night, now attention turns to New York. Fresh off a pair of winning bets yesterday Ben Steele returns to preview the Yankees matchup with the Athletics.
"The Yankees have Giancarlo Stanton (38 HRs), signed last winter for his monstrous hitting power, and a quartet of players who hit 27 of their own in the regular season."
The Yankees (100-62) and the Athletics (97-65) can both count themselves a little unlucky to be in the wildcard game this season. Their regular season records make them the third and fourth best teams in the majors this season but, unfortunately for them, they play in the same division as the Boston Red Sox (108-54) and the Houston Astros (103-59) so are forced to play the sudden death wildcard game. With big hitters all throughout both lineups we can expect fireworks in the Bronx tonight.
Unusual pitching battle awaits
The Oakland Athletics changed the game with their famous moneyball system in the early 2000s and they are approaching pitching in similar, non-traditional, style tonight. Rather than name a starter who will attempt to pitch six or seven innings before going to the bullpen the A's will use "opener" Liam Hendriks, a reliever who has come to specialise in pitching the first couple of innings before being replaced by a range of bullpen options.
The A's will play the matchups, chopping and changing their pitching staff to try to edge out any form of advantage. This style has worked well for Oakland, who finished the season very strongly.
The Yankees, on the other hand, will turn to 19-win starter Luis Severino to lead the line, with Masahiro Tanaka (12-6) waiting in the wings in case Severino struggles. Severino started last year's wild card game but gave up three runs in just a single inning of work and was pulled, he'll be out to improve on that record tonight. Given the power in both lineups the game will most likely be decided by one question. Who blinks first? Severino or the A's bullpen. In my opinion, Severino has the edge.
Yankees to edge home run race
The National League Wildcard game was a low scoring, tense affair the American League could well turn in to a home run derby. There is potential for 11 players to feature who have hit 20 homers or more this season, including home run king Khris Davis who hit 48 for Oakland this season.
The Yankees have Giancarlo Stanton (38 HRs), signed last winter for his monstrous hitting power, and a quartet of players who hit 27 of their own in the regular season. With the heart of the New York order all capable of blowing a game open on their own, look for the Yankees to repeat last year's feat and win a high scoring wildcard game.