The New York Yankees (100-62) and the Oakland Athletics (97-65) will meet at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night for a one-game playoff to determine who will advance to the ALDS (8 p.m., TBS). The winner gets the Boston Red Sox (108-54) in a five-game series beginning on Friday. If you live in the state of New Jersey, you can bet on this game online now with FanDuel sportsbook.
Luis Severino (19-8, 3.39 ERA) will be starting for the Yankees, while Oakland counters with Liam Hendriks (0-1, 4.13 ERA) in what will be a bullpen game for them.
Oddsmakers have tabbed the Bombers as strong -178 favorites, with the underdog A’s listed at +171. The run line is 8.5.
The Yankees are hosting the AL Wild Card game for the third time in four years. They lost to the Houston Astros in 2015 before topping the Minnesota Twins en route to an ALCS appearance (and a near World Series appearance) last season. New York won 100 games, making them the best team to play in a Wild Card game since the postseason was expanded in 2012.
But with sky-high expectations going into Aaron Boone’s first year as manager and the Red Sox cruising to a franchise-best 108-win campaign, the Yankees’ season has been viewed as somewhat of a disappointment. The Athletics, on the other hand, have overachieved, riding a 63-29 second half into playoff contention despite having a mostly anonymous roster.
Both clubs have been highly symbolic of the shift in tactics in the game over the last few years. The Yankees set an MLB record as they hit 267 home runs in 2018, while the A’s were third in the league with 227 long balls.
They both rank in the top five in bullpen ERA as Oakland relievers have pitched to a 3.37 ERA, while the Yankees are just behind at 3.38. Athletics closer Blake Treinen is set up by mid-season acquisitions Jeurys Familia and Fernando Rodney, while the Yankees have Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Dellin Betances and mid-season pickup Zach Britton in their late-inning arsenal.
The Bombers would seem to have the lineup edge despite Aaron Judge’s struggles since returning from injury. Giancarlo Stanton is batting .273 with four homers and 11 RBI in his last 51 plate appearances. Newest pickup Luke Voit has been on a tear and stole the first baseman job from Greg Bird. He’s batting .419 in his last 47 plate appearances, smacking seven homers and driving in 16 runs.
Stephen Piscotty is in the midst of a nice hitting streak, batting .313 with three home runs and 12 RBI in his last 47 trips to the dish, but the most dangerous bat in Oakland’s lineup is that of Khris Davis. However, Davis has struggled against the Yankees historically, batting just .222 with two home runs.
He’s also strikeout-prone, which does not bode well against New York’s historically whiff-inducing bullpen. Yankee relievers struck out 30.2 percent of batters faced this year, the best mark in MLB history.
Look for the Bombers to use the long ball to get ahead before sealing the deal with their relievers to send Oakland packing. The Yankees are too heavy a favorite to back straight-up, so take them to win by at least two runs instead.
Prediction: Yankees win, 7-3
The play: Yankees -1.5 runs (+110)