Sure, the leaves are changing colors, the temperatures are getting cooler and the days are getting shorter. But more importantly, it’s time for playoff baseball.
Today is the first game of the 2017 playoff schedule. A one game playoff matchup between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins. the winner of tonight’s game will earn a spot in the American League Division Series, and take on the Cleveland Indians. This Wildcard matchup has the potential to be a blowout. The Yankees, stacked with sluggers, and good pitching throughout their rotation, and especially in their bullpen, will be the favorites on Tuesday night. The Twins should not be counted out though. They have a hungry, scrappy mix of veterans and youth, and should not be overlooked. I counted them out a while ago, and I’m pleasantly surprised with the way they have performed down the stretch.
The Yankees are loaded in their lineup. Aaron Judge will lead the charge, coming off a rookie season where he hit 52 home runs and knocked in 114 RBI. The Yanks have solid hitters up and down the lineup and can hurt you in several different ways. They have good speed on the bases, and hit for average as well as hitting for power. With solid starting pitching and one of the best bullpens in the game, they are set up to make some noise in this year’s postseason, if they can make it through the Twins.
Minnesota isn’t supposed to be here. That’s what we have been thinking all year. I thought they were too young and inexperienced to hold on this long. Led by Veterans like Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier, the young players have been the surprise. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano have been some of the brightest stars this season for the Twins. The key for them tonight will be Ervin Santana however. Santana had a very nice season this year, and he needs to keep it going tonight if the Twins want to extend their playoff run. If any Twins pitchers are going to shutdown the Bronx Bombers lineup, Santana has a good chance. He has a been very affective mixing up his pitches, and keeping hitters off balance. He has swing in miss stuff, and the Yankees hitters are known to swing and miss.
The Wildcard playoff is one game to see who advances. Anything can and probably will happen. If Santana can neutralize the big Yankee hitters, and expose the holes in the power hitter’s swings, the Twins will have a very good chance. The Twins will have to scratch out a few early runs and avoid falling behind and trying to makeup a deficit against the very strong Yankee bullpen. The Yankees I think, will ultimately be too much though. With the ability to make you pay from the leadoff spot all of the way down to the number nine hitter, they will have too much pressure on the Twins’ pitching staff. Yankee starter, Luis Severino should be able to keep the Twins’ lineup at bay, and lead the Yankees on to the ALDS.
Keys to the game:
- The Yankee lineup needs to avoid the strikeout and get to Santana early.
- Severino needs to stay calm and carry the game until the power bullpen can take over.
- The Yankees’ bullpen, which has struggled at times throughout the season, needs to be dominant, which they are very capable of doing.
- The Twins need to play fundamental baseball. Get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in.
- Santana needs to be strong. Expose the few weaknesses in the Yankee lineup and in the big hitter’s swings.
- Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier need to be leaders for the young team and keep them within themselves. They have a lot of talent, and it needs to come out tonight.