The New York Yankees (33-27, 11-18 away) and Cleveland Indians (35-25, 18-12 home) battle on Tuesday night in the AL Wild Card best-of-three playoff series opener. The two teams did not face each other during the pandemic-shortened regular season.
First pitch gets underway at 7 p.m. EST at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio and oddsmakers have New York a slight -115 favorite (Cleveland -105). The run total in this expected pitcher’s duel is just 6.5.
What to Know – New York Yankees
New York battled key injuries nearly all of the regular season and because of that lost seven-straight at on point. Outside of starting pitcher James Paxton, all of the key parts of the lineup are back healthy for the postseason. The Yankees are one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs if they can maintain their health.
Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84 ERA, 0.96 WHIP) takes the mound in the opener for the visitors. Cole put together another fine season, making 12 starts and throwing 73.0 innings. Over those starts, the right-hander allowed 23 earned runs on 53 hits and struck out 94 batters.
DJ LeMahieu led the majors with an impressive .364 batting average and .421 on-base percentage. Luke Voit brought the power, accounting for team-highs in home runs (22) and RBI (51) with sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton missing a majority of the season with injuries.
The Yankees finished the regular season in second place in the AL East division, seven games behind the Tampa Bay Rays.
What to Know – Cleveland Indians
Like the Yankees, Cleveland also had a lengthy losing streak (their longest since 2015) during the season but found themselves back in the playoffs after missing the 2019 postseason. Cleveland closed out the regular season winning seven of their final eight games, and will need that momentum to contend with a stacked Yankees lineup.
Potential AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.63 ERA, 0.87 WHIP) toes the rubber for the Indians looking to give Cleveland an early advantage in the series. Bieber was brilliant on the mound this season, leading the majors in wins (8), earned run average (1.63), and strikeouts (122).
Jose Ramirez paced the Indians in almost all offensive categories. The third baseman batted .292 with a .386 on-base percentage and cranked 17 home runs while driving in 46 runners. Ramirez also added a team-high ten stolen bases.
Cleveland wrapped up the regular season in a tie for second place in the AL Central with the Chicago White Sox. The Indians finished one-game back of the Minnesota Twins.
The Pick is In
You couldn’t ask for a better pitching matchup than Cole vs. Bieber. The Cleveland starter faces the toughest lineup he has seen this season, and it will be fun to see how the Yankees bats fair against arguably the best pitcher in the majors in 2020. This is a tough one to pick, but with the pitching matchup neutral, the advantage goes to the Yankees and their offense. The pick here is the Yankees -115 in a low-scoring contest.