Last night, the Rockies got to Lester in the first inning and struck first. The Cubs bats remained in hibernation and the Cubs got sent home early. In the 22 innings played in Chicago the last two days, the Cubs scored 2 runs. That will not win you ballgames. Rockies advance, thanks to a stellar performance by Freeland. Plus, we got our first extra inning game of the postseason. I’ll preview all four Division Series in the morning with my official predictions, but first let’s preview this AL Wild Card Game.
The Athletics vs the Yankees should not be a wild card game. This game could’ve been the ALCS. Both teams have amazing bullpens, which led to a surprising twist when the Athletics announced they are starting Liam Hendriks, a reliever with a 0-1 record and a 4.13 ERA. He will act as an opener for them, meaning he’ll pitch only one or two innings. Hendriks has acted as an opener against the Yankees before, throwing a perfect inning, but the Athletics lost that game 5-1. From there, who knows. Maybe they bring in Mike Friars, maybe they stick to the bullpen. My guess is they’ll go to Friars and ride him till he struggles. The Yankees will be pitching their ace, Severino. Severino is 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA, but he started 14-2 and there have been glimpses of the Severino reappearing recently. Sevy has struggled as of late, but he’ll have a short leash. If the Athletics can get to Severino quick, the bullpen will have to be lights out the rest of the time.
The Yankees have arguably the most feared lineup. With the help of Andújar and Torres, all spots 1-9 are a threat. The key to the game for the Yankees is to attack early. The Yankees need to race out to a 2-3 run lead and have Severino be his old self. If the Yankees get out to a lead early, I like their chances. An interesting tidbit, the Yankees are carrying three catchers for this Wild Card game, which means they intend on having a leash on Gary, if he struggles. Gary is tied for the most passed balls and he is also atrocious at the plate right now.
The Athletics don’t have the depth in their lineup, but they do have Khris Davis who hit 48HR’s and 123 RBI’s. With the short deck in right, I expect him to get one tonight as well. The A’s can match the power of the Yankees, one of the few teams that can do so. Their bullpen is 4th in ERA and has the 2nd most innings pitched, so they’re deep and experienced. What ultimately scares me for the Athletics, is Mike Friars pitching in New York. Friars has history with Stanton and since then, Stanton has kind of owned him.
Prediction: The A’s and the Yankees are 3-3 against one another this year. The Yankees have 53 home wins, which was 2nd in the league but the Athletics have 46 road wins, which is the third most. I think this game will be a slugfest. There will be lots of variables but ultimately, I think the Yankees win. If the Yankees can get 5 scoreless or even one run from Severino, then I do not see them losing. The Yankee Stadium atmosphere in October is wild, as we all saw last year. Having home field advantage in this game will pay off. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Athletics win, in fact I think, right now, that they are the better team. But October is different, and it’s in Yankee Stadium. 8-5 Yankees.