October 03, 2017
By: Steve Degler
The Major League Baseball playoffs get underway tonight. For each round I will post a preview and my fearless prediction on how things will go. Which will likely be the exact opposite of what I predict!
Leading off is the American League Wild Card game featuring the Minnesota Twins (85-77) at the New York Yankees (91-71). Let's just say I'm not a fan of this one-game-and-done-round at all. When you play a 162-game regular season, you should have at least a three-game series here. But, we can't be playing baseball until Thanksgiving. I would prefer expanding by two teams to 32 ( I know, not the greatest idea) and go with eight four-team divisions. No wild cards. The eight division winners advance to the postseason. Did I mention no wild cards?
OK...back to the game. These two teams met six times in the regular season with the Yanks winning four. Pretty good contrast in starting pitchers tonight. The veteran Ervin Santana gets the ball for the Twins against New York youngster Luis Severino. I think this is the key match-up. Both guys certainly have the ability to dominate. Will Severino have a case of the nerves? Will Santana try to be too fine in the cozy confines of Yankee Stadium?
As far as the offenses go, Brian Dozier hit .316 against the Yankees while Joe Mauer hit just .263. The Twins struck out 54 times in 52 innings against New York. For the Yankees, Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius each homered twice against the Twins. Judge is certainly capable of winning this game by himself with his power. He and Gregorius also combined to whiff 12 times in 42 combined at-bats. Brett Gardner was 12-for-23 (.522) against the Twins. He seems to rise to the occasion for this team.
Here is an "X-factor" for both teams. For the Twins, it is their bullpen. If they get a late lead, can they hold onto it? The Yankees relief corps will showcase much better arms. For the Yankees, it is Greg Bird. The slugger has missed most of the season with an injury. But he can change the course of a game with one swing of his bat.
Prediction: My heart tells me the Yankees won't lose this game at home. But they are a young bunch and maybe a year ahead of schedule. My gut says Severino might struggle in this one and the Twins will get to him early. I think both could actually happen and the Yankees win, 6-4.
Tomorrow: NL Wild Card Game preview: Colorado at Arizona.