By: Billy Lewis
The New York Yankees (100-62) are preparing to host the Oakland Athletics (97-65) in the American League Wild Card Game. The Yankees and A’s seemed on a crash course for the Wild Card game throughout September. The only question that arose was where would the game be played, New York or Oakland?
The Yankees were able to clinch home field and thus set the stage for Wednesday night in the Bronx. After sorting out home field, the next question for the Yankees became who would pitch? The three main choices were J.A. Happ, Luis Severino, and Masahiro Tanaka.
Heading into July this would be a no-brainer. Luis Severino was dominating and was one of the best pitchers in baseball throughout the first half. Going into the All-Star break Severino was 14-2 with a 2.31 ERA. The second half of the season was the polar opposite for Severino. He would go 5-6 with a 5.57 ERA.
Happ might have been the popular choice among fans. Since he was traded to the Yankees, Happ is 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA. Happ squared off against the A’s back in early September. He pitched well going six innings and only allowing one run on two hits.
Tanaka has pitched well for the Yankees in his postseason career. In four postseason starts, Tanaka has a 1.44 ERA. When the Yankees hosted the Astros in the 2015 Wild Card Game, Tanaka went five innings allowing two runs.
Tuesday afternoon the Yankees announced their decision. Luis Severino will get the nod for the Yankees against the A’s. Though Severino has struggled in the second half, he has been pitching better as of late. If he can somehow find his first half form against the A’s, the Yankees might be able to coast through.
Odds are the bullpens will play a vital role Wednesday night. The A’s are using the opener strategy for the Wild Card Game and will start Liam Hendriks. Look for the Yankees to turn to the bullpen at the first sign of trouble.
Of course last year Severino was absolutely awful in the Wild Card Game. He was only able to get one out in the first inning and allowed three runs. If Severino spots the A’s three runs again, the Yankees will be in trouble. This Wild Card Game may have the two best bullpens in baseball.
Major League Baseball has to be licking its chops for Wednesday’s night game. Not only does it feature the Yankees, but it should also be a great game. The one game Wild Card has done exactly what the MLB wanted: put a giant emphasis on winning the division and kicked off October with two win-or-go-home games.
Wednesday night will be a nervously exciting time for the Yankees. They won 100 games in the regular season, but if they lose Wednesday, 2018 will be looked upon as a disappointing season. However, if they win, they will travel up to Boston to square up against the Red Sox in the American League Division Series. My prediction for the Wild Card Game: Yankees win 6-4, Sevy goes 4.2 giving up 4 hits and 2 runs in the process.