After an excellent, long and thrilling National League Wild Card Game last night, the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees look to match the excitement in the American League Wild Card Game tonight. Gametime is set for 8:08 ET or so.
The Athletics are going with an opener in this one, and it’ll be old friend Liam Hendriks. Hendriks had a roller coaster ride of a season for the A’s this year. After struggling to start the season, he found himself on the DFA pile at the end of June, and being outrighted off the roster and down to the Minors. He pitched in AAA for a couple months, doing quite well, and was added back to the roster when rosters expanded on September 1. From there, he made 12 appearances, including 8 opening acts. He allowed a pair of runs in the second inning of the first game, but from then on he allowed no runs on 6 hits and 2 walks over 11.2 innings, striking out 9. Look for him to go just 1 inning today, as the A’s have realized he isn’t effective beyond that first inning.
Following Hendriks will likely be a wave of 1 inning relievers, a group that was one of the best in baseball this year. Bob Melvin should be able to play matchups most of the night, as the majority of the Yankees bats are right handed, and the majority of best relievers in the A’s pen are right handers as well.
The Yankees have gone with the contentious move, giving young right hander Luis Severino the start in this one. Severino pitched in last year’s Wild Card Game as well, and he did not fare well at all. He got just 1 out in that game, surrendering 3 runs on a pair of home runs, and Joe Girardi gave him the hook before the game got out of control.
The pick is also contentious because Severino had a terrible second half to his season. After posting a shiny 2.31 ERA in the first half, Severino struggled mightily over the last 2.5 months, surrendering a 5.57 ERA as he nearly matched the walk and home run output from the first half of the season in half as many innings.
If Severino falters in this one, Aaron Boone will have Masahiro Tanaka waiting while holding the short leash on Severino. If Sevy makes it a few innings, Boone will probably just go right to the big guns in his bullpen, a group that collectively put up one of the best seasons all time.
MLB.com has done the dirty work of predicting the lineups for this one. I have added their 2018 wRC+ right after it.
LF Nick Martini - 121
3B Matt Chapman - 137
2B Jed Lowrie - 122
DH Khris Davis - 135
1B Matt Olson - 117
RF Stephen Piscotty - 125
CF Ramon Laureano - 129
SS Marcus Semien - 95
C Jonathan Lucroy - 70
That is a very solid hitting, balanced team that is a lot better than they are given credit for. Martini and Olson are the only lefties, while Lowrie provides a switch hitting bat. As a group, they were 4th in the AL with 5.02 runs per game.
Also from MLB.com, with wRC+ right afterwards.
LF Andrew McCutchen - 120
RF Aaron Judge - 149
SS Didi Gregorius - 121
DH Giancarlo Stanton - 127
CF Aaron Hicks - 127
3B Miguel Andujar - 128
C Gary Sanchez - 89
1B Luke Voit - 194
2B Gleyber Torres - 120
This is an absolutely scary lineup. The Yankees filled up their biggest hole with Luke Voit, who launched 14 home runs in 39 games. And he’s batting 8th. This is a team that set the Major League record this year for home runs, hitting 267, three more than the previous record. That led to a second place overall finish in runs scored, at 5.25 per game.
Find the Link
Find the link between Hendriks, Brett Gardner and 3000 hits.