What an absolute roller coaster the last week of Yankee baseball has been.
The Wild Card game—which seems like it happened a month ago, brought the highest of highs. Once the team shipped out to Cleveland, however, it was the polar opposite. The Yankees were shut out by Trevor Bauer in Game 1, but Yankees fans had their hearts pulled out in Game 2. Let’s not dwell on the past because after a shower of boos were cast on Joe Girardi last night, Greg Bird and Masahiro Tanaka saved the season.
Tonight, Luis Severino has a chance at redemption as he’ll try to out-duel Trevor Bauer—who will get the starting nod on just 3 days rest. Here’s what the Yankees need to do to force a Game 5.
Judge must figure it out at the plate
Since his laser beam home run on Tuesday night, Judge is 0-for-10 with 8Ks in the ALDS. While he did help save the game last night with his home run robbery of Franciso Lindor, the Yankees need his bat to be productive tonight. As he did in that rough patch back in July and August, Judge is getting himself in too many 0-2 and 1-2 counts—resulting in him chasing that breaking ball down and away. Bauer struck him out every time he faced him Thursday.
The last time Judge had an 0-for-10 slide or worse? June 28th-29th.
Redemption for Sevvy
Talk about a disappointing outing. On Tuesday night, Sev threw just a third of an inning—and was bailed out in the form of 13Ks from Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Dave Robertson, and Aroldis Chapman—“bullpening” as our friend Brian Kenny coined it, turned out to be successful.
That can’t happen again tonight.
In two starts this season, the 23-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.70ERA and 18Ks in 13.1IP against the Tribe. While the bullpen is well rested for the most part outside of Chapman, there’s little to no chance they can cover another 8 and two thirds this evening. Last week, Sev looked overhyped and nervous at the same time (if that makes sense). Tonight he must keep an even keel and locate the nasty stuff we all know he has.
On 6+ days of rest this year, Sev is 2-0 and opposing batters are hitting .230 with a .607OPS.
The Bird must continue to be the word
Hitting .355 with 4HRs and 11RBI in his last 10 regular season games, Greg Bird has stayed hot. Belting two big blasts in Game 2 & 3, the Yanks have to hope Bird can stay hot and keep delivering.
“I really believe he’s built for this ballpark” said manager Joe Girardi.
Bird’s intent on returning from his mysterious ankle injury was clear, and after much doubt from fans and executives alike about his will to return—well, they don’t have much to say anymore.
The 24-year-old also made it clear he’s not finished just yet, “I’m not ready to be done playing and I don’t think the rest of the team is.”
Maybe Joe Girardi will look at moving Bird up in the order, since Judge and Didi Gregorius have been cold during the first 3 games.
The AL Reliever of the Month in September has been a workhorse at the back end of the bullpen. Chapman earned the 5-out save to keep the season alive last night, and the only problem with that is he threw 34 pitches. Couple this with the fact he threw 27 pitches on Friday—and it’s easy to see why 64 pitches in 3 days could be tiresome for a closer. The thought for his usage tonight is that he will only be available for a 3-out save in the 9th inning—and you shouldn’t be worried.
Since Sept 1 (including playoffs): 16.2IP, 8H, 3BB, 26K, 0ER
First pitch is at 7:08 on FS1 weather pending. GO YANKS!