If the New York Yankees want to take this year’s AL Wild Card game, these three aspects must be fulfilled on Tuesday night.
It has all come down to this, folks.
The New York Yankees will put it all on the line tonight in what has been a one-sided postseason rivalry for quite some time.
The last five times the Minnesota Twins have been to the postseason, New York was there to eliminate them in four of them. Since 2002, the Yankees own a 90-33 record over the Twins, marking the best record by one opponent over another in that span.
How can the Yankees repeat history and avoid having their hopes spoiled by the Twins? They have to follow three keys, which ESNY highlights:
3. Keep The Baby Bombers In Check
It’s natural to be captivated by the thought of seeing the trio of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino light it up on baseball’s biggest stage, but it’s just as easy for the inexperienced youngsters to succumb to the pressure.
That is why the veterans of this team are so important.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Matt Holliday, CC Sabathia, David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman have been key components to previous World Series runs in the past. Sure, they play huge roles with this team, but they now serve as mentors for those who are playing October baseball for the first time.
Keeping them in check by not letting the stage get too big for them will be critical to avoid turning in a dud with the season on the line.
2. Set The Tone
New York’s 23-year-old starter for Tuesday’s Wild Card game has the swagger that can take over a postseason contest, so setting that tone early on is imperative.
Luis Severino is coming in with confidence, as he finished the season with the third-best ERA in the American League and his combination of a blazing fastball, nasty slider, and effective changeup set him apart as one of the best pitchers in the league.
Seemingly unphased by the spotlight, nothing would be greater than the youngster coming out firing in the first inning in front of a sellout Yankee Stadium crowd hungry for another round of postseason baseball.
1. Get Out To An Early Lead
In the month of September, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman combined for a 2.16 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 58.2 innings of work. This fearsome unit is now about to be deployed in the postseason and no matter when the lead, the odds of seeing manager Joe Girardi signal to the bullpen quite often this October are sky-high.
Girardi doesn’t have to worry about giving one of his back-end guys some days off. He has the ability to close out a game as early as the fifth inning with seemingly no issue.
That will only work, however, if the Yankees’ offense can push a couple runs across the board in the early going. They are 55-18 this season when they score first for a reason.
Many like the Yankees, who finished the regular season six games better than the Twins this season, but they still have to pull out the win against a very capable ballclub. That shouldn’t be a problem, however, if they follow the three keys highlighted above.