Yankees set to face Twins in a thrilling postseason matchup
The only thing better than regular season baseball is playoff baseball and that is where the Major League Baseball season is at.
It is no longer a race to find out who the 10 best teams are, but now a race to find out who is the best of the best and which team will be crowned the 2019 World Series Champions.
Postseason baseball is a different animal.
The American League is no slouch this year, as there are five legitimate teams. This will not be an easy test for the New York Yankees, who have fought this entire season to win back the AL East and try to get away from a third straight one-game wild-card playoff.
The Yankees saw their 2018 playoff cut much shorter than expected when they were humiliated by the Boston Red Sox on New York's home turf.
However, there is a major difference between this year’s and last year’s team.
Confidence is oozing out of everyone as they now set their focus on their opponent, the Minnesota Twins.
Aaron Judge gave his thoughts about what is to come for the matchup set to take place in the Bronx as he told reporters, “It’s going to be rowdy. We’re looking forward to it. We’re excited to get back home and I want to see the Bronx come out in numbers.”
This came after their final regular season game, where they lost to the Texas Rangers 6-1.
With home-field advantage during the AL Divisional Series, the Yankees believe they can take care of business early and focus on whoever is next.
The Yankees have had overwhelming success over the Twins in the playoffs, but that should be nothing to look at because of the very young talent that the Twins display.
This will not be an easy matchup between the league’s leading home run hitting teams, with the Twins finishing with 307 and the Yankees right behind them with 306, but will be an exciting one where pitching has to trump all else.
The league saw what was likely the most exciting game of the season on July 23, when the Yankees overcame the Twins in a 14-12 slugfest that ended with a stellar diving catch by center-fielder Aaron Hicks.
A game like this is possible, but both teams will need their pitchers to step up in order to take the series.
Pitching has always been the key to postseason success.
Teams want and expect their starters to take them nearly six strong innings before turning it over to their bullpens.
Luckily, the Yankees’ strong point is their bullpen.
Manager Aaron Boone has spoken before about a new way to utilize his relief pitchers during the playoffs.
With four guys that could come in and get outs in any situation, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton, the Yankees do not necessarily need their starters to go the traditional six innings of work.
Boone also intends to use CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ as long relievers out of the bullpen if he were to use Green as an opener.
Boone is turning to James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino to man the starter roles throughout the playoffs.
Tanaka has seen the most success out of the group.
For the past several seasons, he has always seemed to turn it up in the postseason.
In five career playoff starts, he has pitched to a stellar 1.50 ERA and in his 12 innings in the ALDS, he pitched to a 0.75 ERA.
Severino is still working towards full strength but there are still high expectations from him to see if he can turn a corner in the playoffs and leave behind his past poor performances.
Other than the lack of postseason experience for Paxton, another question is if he will even be able to pitch after leaving his last start of the season with nerve irritation in his glutes.
Paxton was a serious candidate for getting the start in Game 1, but that is still up in the air now.
Of course, there are still other questions for other injured players who are expected to be on the roster.
Edwin Encarnacion believes he will be ready for the start of the ALDS and Gio Urshela believes the same after he left the regular season finale with an ankle sprain.
It is truly magnificent that the Yankees continued to face injury issues up until the final game of the regular season.
This potential Yankees playoff run will be an exciting one and will lead to a great story if they are able to accomplish World Series title number 28.
It is clear that Yankees will also be rooting for the Tampa Bay Rays to beat the Houston Astros. They are the clear frontrunner in the American League and the one team that can outduel the Yankees.