The Yankees are just four wins away from their 41st World Series appearance, so what is left for them to do to get there and make an impact?
Well, that went just as expected. In a dominant 3-0 sweep of the Twins, the Bombers outscored the greatest home run hitting team of all-time 22-7. The Twins have now fallen to the Yankees in 13 straight postseason meetings. Typical Twinkies.
Now it’s on to the American League Championship Series (ALCS). The opponent? The team we were all hoping to avoid. The star-studded Houston Astros.
We’ve seen this movie before. What we haven’t seen is this much depth on a Yankee playoff roster. That being said, depth can only do so much going up against one of the greatest one-two punches of all-time. The Yanks need their core players to step up in this series in order to have any chance at success. Three players whose performance in the ALCS will make or break this team: Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Chad Green.
Stanton’s T-Rex swing wasn’t awful in the Divisional Series all things considered. He went 1-6 with two strikeouts in eleven plate appearances. Most importantly, he kept the line moving with four walks for a solid .455 on-base percentage (OBP). With Verlander and Cole combining for 626 strikeouts in the regular season, we can expect that the soon to be pair of Cy Young (CY) finalists won’t nibble the zone like Minnesota did. They will attack Stanton head-on. Mano a mano.
What we can hope is that with a higher percentage of balls in the zone, Stanton will have more chances to send them right back into orbit. The question is will he be able to take advantage of those opportunities?
With all the attention paid to Didi’s struggles down the stretch, it seems fans have missed out on Gary’s shitshow. He has shown no sign of life this postseason notching a .125 average with four strikeouts in twelve plate appearances. Didi, on the other hand, is heating up in the field and at-bat. In the ALDS Didi hit .400 with 6 RBI’s and a .500 OBP. He also flashed some leather with his crucial diving catch in the ninth inning of game three.
Passed balls are something Sanchez has worked on since he led baseball in that category a year ago (18). In a playoff series against this pitching staff, it goes without saying that Sanchez cannot afford any passed balls. And not just with runners on third. The Houston Astros had the highest team average in baseball at .274 and fifth-highest average with runners in scoring position at .268. Give this team an extra 90 feet and they will make you pay.
Over the past two seasons, El Gary has combined for a .209 average in the regular season and .154 in the postseason. But any true Yankee fan knows that when the Kraken gets hot, there isn’t a sweeter swing in the game. I guess at this point it’s something our fans should expect from him – the extremely hot and the cold streaks. And based on the classic law of percentages, it’s just about that time for him to catch fire.
No pitcher has been more versatile for this Yankee team than Chad Green. In 54 appearances, Green started 15 games, finished 10 and saved two. He made at least one appearance in every inning (1-9) as well as extras. Although the Yanks got success out of their starters against Minnesota, we know from experience that the Astros are a different animal. This team can score, and fast. In that situation, Green would have to be the man to come in and right the ship for two or three innings.
In October, pitchers are set up to face only the elite offenses in the game. And in an era with increased slugging and teams getting less and less out of their starters, guys like Green become critical pieces to any playoff roster.
Four. More. Wins. That’s all it takes to get back. Four wins. And boy would this one be satisfying as hell. Taking down who should be number one and two in the CY ballot. As long as Green continues to excel in his role and we start seeing some life out of Sanchez and Stanton, I see no reason this 2019 club can’t win pennant 41.