John Lepore | October 4th, 2019
Two teams that won over 100 games this season will begin their battle in the Bronx tonight at 7:07 ET. This series should be full of scoring as the Yankees and Twins were #1 and #2 in HRs (Twins 307-Yankees 306) and runs (Yankees 943-Twins 939). The pitching will have to be on point for both sides as mistakes in the field and on the basepaths will give the other side extra outs. Neither team can afford that with the firepower these squads have. Let’s break down the matchup.
New York Yankees AL Rankings (1st in runs 943, 2nd in HRs 306, 3rd in OPS .829)
The Bronx Bombers set a major league record with 14 players over 10 HRs. While two of them, Aaron Hicks and Mike Tauchman, are not on the roster for this series, the Yanks still have enough hitters who can put one out. While many people look at DJ LeMahieu as the team’s MVP, and he has been great, Gleyber Torres has cemented himself as a star. He led the team with 38 HRs and was second only to LeMahieu in runs (96), RBI (90), and games played (144). The Yankees also have their two big boys back and healthy. Judge missed 60 games yet still managed a .921 OPS and 27 HRs. Stanton only played in 18 games but had an .894 OPS.
Minnesota Twins AL Rankings (2nd in Runs 939, 1st in HRs 307, 2nd in OPS .832)
The Bomba Squad will be in full effect for this series hopefully. Max Kepler is battling shoulder soreness but has progressed to the point where he should be ready for Game One. He broke out this year with 36 HRs and has played stellar defense. Nelson Cruz does what he does. The Boomstick led the team with 41 HRs at 38 years old. Nuff said. Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano offer plenty of pop, although it comes with plenty of swing and miss as well. Jorge Polanco is coming into his own at 25, and Mitch Garver has thrown himself into the conversation for best catcher in the AL with a .995 OPS and 31 bombs.
New York Yankees AL Rankings (6th in ERA 4.51, 8th in FIP 4.74, 5th in K-BB% 16.5)
The Bombers are going with James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino. Paxton has been dominant, especially of late, winning 10 in a row before a one-inning outing last Friday. In those 10 games, he threw 60 innings with a 68/20 K/BB rate and only surrendered five HRs. Opponents in those games slashed a paltry .167/.241/.273. Tanaka has been a playoff performer of the highest level. In five playoff starts, Tanaka has thrown 30 innings with a 1.50 ERA and a minuscule 0.800 WHIP. Severino has pitched extremely well since coming off the IL, although he struggled with command last time out. It is likely that they use Sevy for four innings or so and then use J.A. Happ to bridge the gap to the relievers. C.C. Sabathia is not on the ALDS roster.
Minnesota Twins AL Rankings (5th in ERA 4.19, 4th in FIP 4.09, 6th in K-BB% 15.3)
The Twins will go with Jose Berrios in Game One. He has been steadily improving his last three seasons. His K/BB ratio has gone from 2.90 to 3.31 to 3.82 from 2017-2019. He is the Twins ace and will be counted on to neutralize the Yankee bats. Jake Odorizzi will be next up in Yankee Stadium for Game Two. He had his best season in the majors posting his second-lowest ERA at 3.51, his lowest FIP at 3.36 and a career-high in strikeouts with 178. The third game will be up to Randy Dobnak. He has been moved into different roles so far but looks like he has settled into being a starter. In his last three games, Dobnak has thrown 16.1 innings and only surrendered two runs. Kyle Gibson will likely be used out of the bullpen as a long reliever in case any of the three starters get into trouble.
New York Yankees AL Rankings (5th in ERA 4.08, 5th in FIP 4.15, 4th in K-BB% 15.0)
The Yankees bullpen has been very good, as it was supposed to be. Aroldis Chapman did Aroldis Chapman things, and along with Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton, formed, arguably, the best bullpen trio in the majors, albeit with control issues at times. The rest of the bullpen is somewhat up in the air. Luis Cessa made the ALDS squad. Although he got lit up in his last outing, he gave up only two runs in his previous nine.
Minnesota Twins AL Rankings (6th in ERA 4.17, 1st in FIP 3.92, 2nd in K-BB% 15.6)
Taylor Rogers has stepped onto the scene and announced himself as one of the best closers in the AL. He had 30 saves with a stellar 90/11 K/BB rate and 1.000 WHIP. Trevor May and Tyler Duffey have been excellent as well for this underrated Twins bullpen. The Twins will also carry on the roster Devin Smeltzer, Zack Littell, and Brusdar Graterol. Graterol is the flamethrower, and Smeltzer is there as the only lefty other than Rogers.
The Yankees have the brand, and most baseball fans around the country know their names. The Twins…not so much. There is a lot of talent on this Twins roster. You don’t win 101 games in the major leagues without being a good team. The past has shown that the Yankees are, in Pedro’s famous words, the Twins’ daddies. That may change this year, and although the Bronx Bombers are an excellent team, the Bomba Squad from little Minnesota will be here to play.
Prediction: Twins in Five
MVP: Jorge Polanco
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images