In what could be one of the more fascinating matchups of the AL Wild-Card round, the No. 5 New York Yankees will travel to Progressive Field to take on the No. 4 Cleveland Indians in a best-of-three series. While both teams finished second in their respective divisions, both have high aspirations of a postseason run. Regardless, there are many interesting storylines, so let’s take a closer look at the matchup.
Being the higher seed, the Cleveland Indians will host the best-of-three series at Progressive Field. The schedule will be as follows:
- Game 1: Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
- Game 2: Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
- Game 3 (if necessary): Thursday, Time and TV TBD
2020 Regular-Season Records
- New York Yankees: 33-27
- Cleveland Indians: 35-25
Given the nature of the shortened season, where teams only played opponents in their region, these two did not play. In 2019, it was the Indians who edged out the Yankees in the season series, 4-3.
New York Yankees 2020 Stats
The Yankees continue to be able to mash the ball, and that led to them ranking fourth in the majors in runs per game at 5.34. They have the AL batting title champ in DJ LeMahieu (.364/.421/.590 with 10 home runs, 27 runs batted in, and 41 runs scored) and the home run leader in Luke Voit (22 home runs, 52 runs batted in). That isn’t mentioning Aaron Judge and his ability at the plate. Even with the struggles of Gary Sanchez (hitting .147) and Gleyber Torres (just three home runs), this lineup is scary.
Defensively, they aren’t too bad either. Te Yankees ranked 12th in runs allowed per game at 4.49. The likes of starter Gerrit Cole, the Game 1 starter, certainly help. He is 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 94 strikeouts in 73 innings. With a bullpen anchored by the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green, and others, New York is equipped for a postseason run.
Over the last few years, health has been the biggest concern for the Yankees, and like the last few seasons, they have missed both Judge and Giancarlo Stanton at times. When everyone is healthy and clicking, the Yankees are arguably the best team in baseball. The question, though, is, can they stay healthy? In the last month, Judge and Stanton have played 19 games combined.
Cleveland Indians 2020 Stats
While the Yankees have had one of the best offenses in the game, the Indians have had one of the worst. They rank 27th in the majors in runs per game at 4.07 runs. Despite that, they could have a contender for the MVP in third baseman Jose Ramirez, who, in 219 at-bats, hit .292/.386/.607 with 17 home runs, 46 runs batted in, 45 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases, leading the team in all those four categories. While the Indians may not have the depth of the Yankees, they have the ability to put up runs.
In terms of pitching, Cleveland has been stellar. The Indians’ pitching staff ranked second in the majors with a 3.28 ERA. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they have a possible frontrunner for the AL Cy Young in Shane Bieber, who is 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and has struck out a remarkable 122 in 77.1 innings. The Indians have amazing depth in their rotation with Carlos Carrasco, Zach Plesac, and others.
It isn’t just the starting rotation that has been dominant for Cleveland, as its bullpen has been pretty special. Brad Hand was a perfect 16-for-16 in save opportunities and sports a 2.05 ERA. Throw in the likes of relievers like Oliver Perez (2.00 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) and Cal Quantrill (1.84 ERA), and it could be hard to score against the Indians at any point in the game.
- Game 1: Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84 ERA) vs. Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.63 ERA)
- Game 2: Masahiro Tanaka (3-3, 3.56 ERA) vs. Carlos Carrasco (3-4, 2.91 ERA)
- Game 3: TBD vs. Zach Plesac (4-2, 2.28 ERA)
The New York Yankees come into this one with a moneyline of -130 to win the series. The Indians are even to advance.
The Game 1 matchup of Cole and Bieber is expected to be tight, with the Yankees sporting a moneyline of -104 compared to the Indians’ -106. The over/under for the contest is set at 6.5 runs.
New York enters the postseason with the second-best odds to win the American League pennant at +325, just behind Tampa Bay’s +285. Cleveland is fifth in the league at +650.
Wild Card Pick
It is undeniable that the Indians have a phenomenal starting pitching staff, but it isn’t like the Yankees are too bad either with Cole and Masahiro Tanaka as their 1-2. Despite how stellar Ramirez has been, the Yankees have had better offensive depth and, overall, I think are just the better well-rounded team of the two.
They may be the lower seed, but the Yankees seem like the right bet in this matchup.