After leading the AL East for most of the season, the Yankees going into the playoffs as a wild card might seem disappointing. But many wild card teams have been able to make World Series runs, just like the Royals did before they were ultimately eliminated in game seven last year.
The Yankees’ playoff rotation has not been set in stone, but it seems likely that Masahiro Tanaka will be the ace of the staff, unless his nagging hamstring injury resurfaces. Michael Pineda and Luis Severino would help comprise a solid three-man rotation. C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Adam Warren would be undesirable candidates to make a postseason start, so it appears the Bombers will have to go with the three-man approach.
Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have been phenomenal in the bullpen all year long and they will have to be in the playoffs as well, as there aren’t many reliable options behind them.
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The Bombers’ offense is second only to the Blue Jays in run production on the year. Even though Mark Teixeira was lost for the season, Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann should be able to carry the freight in the power department. Carlos Beltran and Didi Gregorius have been getting on base with regularity in September; they will need to be just as good in October.
The Yankees’ opponent for the wild card round will probably be determined on the last day of the season, with the Astros, Angels and Twins deciding it. Should the Yankees win that elimination game, they would play the AL team with the best record in the ALDS; either the Blue Jays (who the Yankees were 6-13 against this season) or the Royals (who the Yankees beat 4-2 in the season series).
Where the Mets stand going into the postseason
It didn’t seem possible when they were hovering around .500 in June, but the Mets clinched the NL East last Saturday, and in the process, their first playoff berth since 2006.
The Mets will have a fearsome postseason rotation, with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz expected to take turns starting.
Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese, who each had a decent season as a starter, will be working as relievers in an already-strong Mets bullpen (ranked 10th in the majors in ERA at 3.45) in the playoffs.
Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia will be working most of the late innings. Reed, the former closer in Arizona, was acquired in August from the Diamondbacks, while Clippard was brought in back in July from Oakland. Familia, in his first year as the Mets’ closer, was among the league leaders in reliever ERA and saves.
The Mets’ offense, once among the worst in the league, became a juggernaut post-deadline. Yoenis Cespedes didn’t come cheaply from Detroit (the Mets parted with Michael Fulmer, one of their best pitching prospects) but the soon-to-be free agent is having such a great second half that he was thrown into the discussion for NL MVP. With Travis d’Arnaud and David Wright now playing full-time after spending so many days on the DL, the Mets lineup has become a nightmare for opposing pitchers.
The Mets will likely face the Dodgers in the NLDS, then if they win that five-game series, whoever comes out of the NL Central dogfight in the NLCS. It would be a shot at redemption if the Mets draw the Cardinals in the NLCS, as they were the team that eliminated New York in 2006.