The Wild Card round has come to an end with eight teams remaining.
After a crazy Wild Card round that saw all seven central teams lose, the division series kicks off today, with the American Lead, leading the charge. Here are my predictions for the ALDS.
Tampa Bay Rays V. New York Yankees
Wild Card Round Outcome:
Tampa Swept Toronto 2-0.
New York swept Cleveland 2-0
This series will be full of fireworks and high emotions. Bad blood had been brewing between the two teams, but tensions boiled over on September 2nd when Aroldis Chapman threw a fastball behind the head of Mike Brosseau. This led to the benches clearing.
Tampa won the season series against the Yankees 8-2, but New York is back to full strength. Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, and Gleybor Torres showed in the Wild Card round that they are all healthy. The Yankees swept the Wild Card series against the Cleveland Indians, but most surprisingly was the fact that the Yankees roughed up the assumed 2020 AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber. After posting a 1.63 ERA, Bieber allowed seven runs across 4.2 innings. Throw in the AL home run leader Luke Voit, plus Gary Sanchez, and the Yankees have arguably the best lineup in the AL.
Gerrit Cole was lights out in his Wild Card start, allowing only two runs across seven innings while striking out 13. Outside of him, the rotation is full of questions, making Game One a must-win for the Yankees. When it comes to the rest of the rotation, they will need to keep Tampa’s offense at bay long enough until the bullpen can take over. The Yankees bullpen is one of the best in the league, led by Zack Britton, Aroldis Chapman, and Chad Green.
This matchup will see a powerful Yankees offense take on an elite Tampa starting rotation led by Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, and Tyler Glasnow. Blake Snell held a young Toronto Blue Jays team scoreless through 5.2 innings with nine strikeouts in his Wild Card game start. Glasnow followed suit and held Toronto to two runs across six innings while striking out eight. Both have the ability to shut down any offense and carry the team.
After missing the team’s Wild Card series, stud outfielder Austin Meadows was added to Tampa’s ALDS roster. His presence will be a huge boost and he is a great compliment to All-Star Brandon Lowe. Against the Blue Jays, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Randy Arozarena, and Mike Zunino all played dividends in the offense’s success. They will all be leaned on to replicate this against the Yankees.
Prediction: Tampa Bay’s rotation is the best in the American League and owned the Yankees in the season series. While the Yankees offense is firing on all cylinders, Tampa’s rotation will prevail. Tampa in five.