The Yankees will likely face the Astros in the ALCS, but what if the Rays pull off the upset tonight? Let’s preview both potential playoff opponents.
Three games into the postseason, the Yankees could not have asked for a better start, sweeping the Twins in a best of five Friday, Saturday and Monday. With the Yankees breaking out the brooms against Minnesota, New York will face the Astros in the ALCS beginning Saturday.
Or will they? On Tuesday, the Rays knocked off the ‘Stros to force a pivotal game five later tonight. Tyler Glasnow takes the ball for the Tampa, while arguable Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole will be on the bump for Houston. In all likelihood, the Astros will win, but what if, somehow, some way, they don’t?
If the Astros Win…
The Yankees will have their work cut out for them. However, the Yankees have already benefitted regardless from this series going five games. Due to the length of the series, Gerrit Cole, pitching tonight, likely wouldn’t pitch until game three at Yankee Stadium. Justin Verlander wouldn’t be fully rested until game two, and that means Zack Greinke would have to begin game one, if they make it. One way or the other, this series is hindering the ‘Stros rotation simply because of the amount of rest Verlander and Cole are going to need, regardless if they win tonight or not.
And, let’s not even consider the rotation and just look at the basics of the repercussions of this lengthy series: while the Yankees have four days off to get prepared for the ALCS, the Astros (or the Rays. depending who wins), would only have one off-day to prepare for the ALCS. Regardless, if the Astros win, they will still be a tough opponent for the Yanks. Matter of fact, they will likely even be the favorite. If the Stros’ get the win, the Bombers will have to battle for the AL Pennant, but knocking off Houston is certainly doable, albeit a challenge.
If the Rays Win…
The Yankees will be the favorite to make the World Series. The Yanks handled the Rays well this season, going 12-7. The Rays, who have great pitching, don’t have tremendous hitting. With Glasnow, Morton, and even Snell, that’s a very formidable front three, but they aren’t Verlander, Cole, and Greinke. the Yankees even have handled Snell before, and, not to mention, the Yankees would have home-field advantage if they face the Rays. If they played the Astros, they wouldn’t.
Overall, if you’re the Yankees, the ideal matchup here would be Tampa, regardless of Houston’s recent poor play. Although the Astros are the favored team for tomorrow’s game, this is baseball, and anything can happen. If the Rays can pull off the upset, the Yankees should take advantage of the feisty, but beatable, Rays.