One game. If you win, you move on. If you lose, your season is done. The drama will be intense as the Oakland Athletics travel to Yankee Stadium to take on the New York Yankees in the American League Wild Card game. If the game wasn’t exciting enough, you have two completely different strategies at play.
For the Yankees, they will be deploying their traditional ace, the hard-throwing Luis Severino (19-8, 3.39 ERA). For the Athletics, they are employing the opener strategy, meaning they aren’t throwing a traditional starter but rather deploying a bullpen game to try to win.
First in line for the Athletics will be Liam Hendricks (0-1, 4.12 ERA). While it is a bold strategy, the Athletics have relied on a bullpen that holds the second best ERA in the American League, so why not maximize their strength in a one-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 pm ET.
The money line for Wednesday’s wild-card game is set at the Oakland Athletics +165 and New York Yankees -195. The over/under on runs scored is set at 8.5.
A’s Underappreciated All Season, Why Should Postseason Be Different
No one expected the Oakland Athletics to contend this season, let alone be in the playoffs. Frankly, most people couldn’t even name a handful of A’s players if asked. With so little appreciation for a franchise that won 97 games, it is no wonder they are seen as such underdogs in the wild-card game.
For the A’s, though, that is probably how they like it. Just like the regular season, the A’s find themselves in a game that many don’t expect them to win, meaning most of the pressure is on the Yankees. To add to the lack of respect, they will be deploying a strategy that many traditionalists have scoffed at as they are using a bullpen game in the playoffs. With the arms the A’s have, it is hard to blame them.
In addition to “opener” Liam Hendricks, you will likely see Blake Treinen, Jeurys Familia, Fernando Rodney, Lou Trivino, Shawn Kelley, Yusmeiro Petit and Ryan Buchter throughout the game tomorrow. While it may seem like an odd strategy, for a bullpen that has a collective ERA of 3.35, it might just work.
On the offensive side, Khris Davis was an absolute beast this season. He hit .247/.326/.549 with a .874 OPS. He also added 48 home runs, 123 runs batted in and scored 98 runs. While the Yankees have their fair share of big boppers, none of them have had the type of season that Davis had.
Yankees Turn To Severino To Get Them Through
Luis Severino is a bit of an enigma. On the one hand, he has ridiculous stuff and has shown glimpses of being utterly dominant, including starting the season 14-2, with a 2.31 ERA. On the other hand, he has shown major flashes of inconsistency, no more so than the fact that he went 5-6 with a 5.57 ERA in the second half of the season. He also probably has last October somewhere in the back of his mind. Last year, he allowed three runs and two home runs in the first inning before being knocked out of the game.
Offensively, the Yankees look stacked on paper. With six players recording 20 or more home runs (a seventh was at 18 in only 323 at bats), the power can be seen from top to bottom in the Yankees lineup. The question, though, will be whether they can find their swings against the very solid and very deep A’s bullpen. The Yankees will have their work cut out for them, but if a pitcher misses his spot, almost everyone in the Yankees lineup can make him pay for it.
Athletics Find A Way To Move On
I would be lying if I said I hadn’t rewritten this paragraph a couple times, each time flipping on who I was going to choose. I truly see this as a coin flip type game, as either team is capable of putting up runs and shutting the opposition down. With it being a 50/50 type game, I have to go with the Athletics. They have just found a way to win almost all season long, shocking much of the baseball world and I think they are going to do it again Wednesday. Throw on top of that the odds they are getting and I will take the A’s at +165 to move on.