The New York Yankees won 100 amateur and the Oakland A’s won 97—good for the third- and fourth-best annal in Above Alliance Baseball in 2018—but acknowledgment to the attendance of the Boston Red Sox (108) and Houston Astros (103) in their divisions, they face aishment at Yankee Stadium in the AL Wild Card Game.
This is hardly a David vs. Goliath matchup, behindhand of the $100 actor amount difference. Instead, it’s a affray of heavyweights amid two teams boasting two of the league’s best bullpens by Win Probability Added, and two of the bristles best offenses by OPS, wRC and best added metrics.
How They Got Here
The Yankees didn’t do annihilation amiss to wind up in the Wild Card game, they aloof had the accident of actuality in the aforementioned analysis as one of the 12 winningest teams of all time. There were aloof a few little things that afar abundant from historic. The Yankees went 11-9 adjoin the NL while the Red Sox went 16-4. The Yankees went 12-7 adjoin the 47-win Orioles; the Red Sox went 16-3. When the two teams akin up, the Yankees accomplished 9–10.
The chase for the analysis was close and close through the season’s aboriginal three months afore Boston pulled away. On July 1, the Yankees exhausted the Red Sox 11-0 to win a three-game alternation at home and cull aback into aboriginal place. It was the 28th day they spent aloft the AL East, and it was additionally the last. The Red Sox went 19–6 in July and never looked back, authoritative the Yankees aloof the fourth aggregation aback the bounded era began in 1969 to win 100 amateur and accomplishment in second.
On June 24, the A’s were aloof aloft .500 and sitting in fourth abode in the AL West (11.5 amateur abaft Houston), with the Mariners the abruptness aggregation block the Astros. Oakland won 41 of its aing 58 amateur and spent four canicule angry for the analysis advance afore the Astros pulled abroad with a 21-win September.
For the additional after season, the Yankees will accelerate Luis Severino to the Yankee Stadium bank to alpha the Wild Card game. The allowance are appealing acceptable that this year’s alpha will go bigger for Severino than the aftermost one; in the 2017 d adjoin the Twins, he accustomed bristles of the aboriginal six batters to ability and was pulled with his aggregation bottomward 3-0. Severino was a bit of a abruptness best by Boone, because he has struggled to the tune of a 5.57 ERA aback the All-Star Break. Some speculated J.A. Happ or Masahiro Tanaka would get the alarm instead, but Boone is activity with the guy who has been the Yankees’ ace over the accomplished two seasons. Severino’s airing and strikeout ante accept bigger hardly from their already-elite 2017 numbers, but a accessory access in adamantine acquaintance and some bad luck accept contributed to a .42-point access in adversary BABIP. He’ll try to accumulate the brawl in the esplanade this time around, which won’t be accessible adjoin an A’s calendar that leads the majors in fly brawl amount and is third in homers.
The Yankees amount to accord Severino every befalling to go bristles or six innings if he’s aciculate but will accept a quick activate if he struggles. He acceptable won’t see the A’s calendar a third time unless he’s absolutely dealing. In Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton, David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Chad Green, Boone has a activating accumulation of powerful, swing-and-miss relievers to deploy.
Oakland administrator Bob Melvin has adopted to go with a abode day, starting with “opener” Liam Hendriks and activity from there. Hendriks has put calm 11 beeline scoreless appearances over the accomplished month, blurred his division ERA from 7.83 to 4.13. If Hendriks pitches a quick first, he may get a adventitious to get some outs in the second. Once he’s out of the game, the A’s accept nine added relievers accessible to go. If they can get to eighth with a abbreviate lead, lights-out afterpiece Blake Treinen—the best analgesic in baseball by WAR (3.6) and ERA (0.78)—may be asked to get a six-out save.
Anyone abroad is in comedy to arch the gap amid Hendriks and Treinen. Lou Trivino and Jeurys Familia assume like locks to accomplish appearances, and at atomic two of Yusmeiro Petit, Shawn Kelley and J.B. Wendelken should get an inning. Lefthander Ryan Buchter could be activated adjoin Didi Gregorius or Aaron Hicks, the closing a switch-hitter who is bigger from the larboard ancillary of the plate. Veterans Fernando Rodney and Familia advance the way with 13 postseason appearances apiece.
With Aaron Judge abiding from a wrist abrasion a brace weeks ago, the Yankees’ record-setting calendar is aback to abounding strength. Giancarlo Stanton and AL ROY applicant Miguel Andujar accept been the abhorrent MVPs with analogous 126 OPS abstracts in 600-plus bowl appearances. Hicks and Gregorius will get best of their ABs adjoin righties and are players to watch. General Administrator Brian Cashman fabricated a brace midseason trades that accept panned out wonderfully; Andrew McCutchen and Luke Voit accept been outstanding aback donning pinstripes and are above upgrades from Brett Gardner and Greg Bird. Voit has been abnormally ablaze with a Trout-ian 188 OPS in 39 amateur as a Yankee. Gleyber Torres and his 118 OPS hit ninth, which tells you a lot about this lineup. The alone absolute aperture is catcher Gary Sanchez, who has hit .186 this year with aloof 18 homers. Gardner and Neil Walker could be activated off the bench.
Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images
The A’s hitters ability not accept the aforementioned akin of name recognition, but Oakland absolutely had a college aggregation OPS in 2018 (109 to 108). This is an aristocratic calendar with a agnate abridgement of holes and affluence of pop. Matt Chapman (136 OPS ) and Khris Davis (136 OPS , 48 homers) accept been astounding all year long, Stephen Piscotty aloof larboard the backyard eight times in September, and Jed Lowrie is 6-for-11 in his career off of Severino. Matt Olson is consistently a blackmail to go deep, abnormally at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. New York’s Andujar and Torres are the better-known rookies, but Oakland has a accomplished brace of their own in centerfielder Ramon Laureano (128 OPS ) and lefty Nick Martini (.397 OBP), who may get the alpha in larboard acreage over Mark Canha.
Everything affairs in a one-game playoff, including defense. These teams accept altered strengths and weaknesses from a fielding angle that could comedy a big role in free the outcome. The best notable one is that the A’s accept the best arresting infield in the league. It starts with Chapman, the best third baseman in baseball according to every avant-garde arresting statistic. His 29 arresting runs adored (DRS) are 22 added than the next-best third baseman, and he passes the eye test, consistently authoritative absurd plays attending routine. At aboriginal base, Olson is additionally the best at his position by DRS and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). Up the middle, additional baseman Lowrie and ambush Marcus Semien both accept top-5 UZRs. By contrast, Andujar (3B) and Torres (2B) are the affliction defenders amid able players at their position according to UZR, and aboriginal baseman Voit is beneath boilerplate as well. In the outfield, though, the Yankees accept the advantage. Led by Judge, the Yankees outfield ranks in the top-5 in DRS and UZR, while the A’s are characterless (though they do accept Laureano’s arm).
There’s actual little to abstracted these teams, but Severino’s contempo struggles and the brainy hurdle of aggravating to abstain addition Wild Card auto are causes for concern. The A’s get to him aboriginal and Treinen absolutely closes the aperture late, ambience up an ALDS antagonism with the Red Sox.
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