While we say it every year, it bears repeating that it is cruel for the seasons of a 100-win team like the New York Yankees and a 97-win team like the Oakland Athletics to come to a one-game playoff.
But that’s the way the cookie crumbles in Major League Baseball as the Bronx Bombers host the A’s on Wednesday night in the American League Wild Card Game, a one-game playoff that will end one of these teams’ season. The winner will move on to the ALDS to face the Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees will send Luis Severino to the mound to face the Athletics, a choice by first-year manager Aaron Boone that has raised the eyebrows of many. While Severino came into the season as the rotation’s ace and pitched like it for much of the first half, he’s been struggling mightily over his last 14 starts with a 6-6 record and 5.67 ERA.
His experience in the AL Wild Card Game isn’t necessarily good, either. Last year he lasted just 1/3 of an inning, allowing three runs on four hits to the Minnesota Twins before he was yanked. The Yankees would go on to win the game and make a run to the ALCS before losing to the eventual World Series champion Houston Astros.
While Severino is expected to have a short leash considering the Yankees have one of the best bullpens in the league, Boone could have gone with veteran J.A. Happ, who is 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA since being acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays at the deadline.
On the offensive side, the Yankees have a plethora of big bats that are capable of turning a game on its head. Sure, there are the usual suspects like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, but arguably the most important bat down the stretch this year has been that of first baseman Luke Voit.
Acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals this summer, Voit has snatched the starting job from Greg Bird and has been unstoppable. In 39 games, he’s batting .333 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI. He had five home runs and 21 RBI in 137 career games with the Cardinals.
He’s a big reason why the Yankees have averaged 6.9 runs per game in their last 10 to end the regular season.
The Athletics are going to counter with a bullpen game as Liam Hendriks will be Oakland’s opener for the night. Manager Bob Melvin has made it known that he’ll have 10 pitchers at his disposal on Wednesday night with Edwin Jackson being the lone starter likely available.
Since being called up from Triple-A on Sept. 1, Hendriks has opened for the A’s eight times while posting a 1.96 ERA in 9.2 innings while performing under that role.
Oakland will hope the constant changes on the mound will keep the Yankees out of a groove, allowing for a talented offense of their own to take advantage of the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.
Khris Davis led the majors with 48 home runs this year while Jed Lowrie, who had 23 of his own, is batting .346 in six games against New York this season. Matt Olson (29), Matt Chapman (24) and Stephen Piscotty(27) all have 24 or more home runs as well.
Here is how you can catch all the action on Wednesday night from the Bronx:
Athletics vs. Yankees Wild Card Game viewing information
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 3
Time: 8:08 p.m. ET
Free Live Stream: Reddit (links will update closer to first pitch)