By Ivan Morrobel
Published: October 3rd, 2018
The long-lasting MLB regular season has finally come to an end and for a second straight season, the New York Yankees will host the American League (AL) Wild Card Game.
After putting together a marvelous campaign, in which they won 100 games, the Yankees will go to head-to-head with the Oakland Athletics. The winner of the AL Wild Card game will meet the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series.
It will be interesting to see which team wins this do-or-die game, considering they split six regular season matchups against each other. The Yankees, who were one game shy of making it to the 2017 World Series, are expected to have another deep playoff run this year, while the Athletics make their first postseason appearance since 2014.
September was a struggle for the Yankees, as Judge, Didi Gregorius, and Aroldis Chapman battled injuries, but luckily the trio has returned just in time for the playoffs.
The Athletics have also faced trials regarding injury. Star left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea was shut down for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury. However, they fought in order to remain atop the AL west.
Offensively, both teams are very much alike. The Bronx Bombers are loaded with sluggers from top to bottom with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Miguel Andujar, which is why they broke the single-season home run record (267). But, the A’s have a dicey lineup of their own with Matt Olson, Jed Lowrie and this year’s home run leader (48), Khris Davis.
Despite what their lineups can do to one another, pitching will be the deciding factor between the two teams. Unlike the Yankees who have three legitimate starters (Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ), the Athletics don’t have a proven starter, yet it was the Athletics who finished with a lower earned run average (3.95) in their games against the Yankees this season.
In their six games, the Athletics also led in runs (5.5) and average (.246). Nevertheless, the AL Wild Card game will be held in the Bronx, where the Yankees won a three-game series in May, although some fans would say the Athletics have become a completely different team since then.
Last but not least, the bullpen: both teams feature exceptional arms that can put the finishing touches to a ball game. Considering the A’s don’t have a genuine ace, relievers such as Blake Treinen, Lou Trivino, and Fernando Rodney are likely to make an appearance. The Yankees, on the other hand, have just as many pitchers in their bullpen who can torment the Athletics.
The Yankees are no stranger to wild-card games. In 2015, they lost to the Houston Astros in a one-game playoff, and later defeated the Minnesota Twins in last year’s wild-card matchup. The Athletics’ last postseason appearance ended after they lost to the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 AL Wild Card Game.
All in all, these two teams have shown their respective fanbase that they can defeat the opposing team, but their regular season records against each other are neck and neck. Regardless of the victor, there will be little time for rest, as the prize for victory is a trip to Beantown, where they will face-off against the Boston Red Sox for a series that won’t be for the faint of heart.