2018 AL Wild Card Preview and Prediction

By ,

Posted in: MLB

A's vs Yankees 2018 AL Wild Card Preview

If Tuesday night’s NL Wild Card contest was any indication, this MLB postseason is going to be special.

With the Rockies outlasting the Cubs in a 13-inning thriller, we are already down to seven teams for baseball’s ultimate prize.

Your turn, American League.

The New York Yankees, fresh off of a 100-win season, will host the best story in baseball this season in the form of the Oakland A’s to see who gets a crack at the league-leading Boston Red Sox in the ALDS.

Can the favored Yankees take care of the upstart A’s or does Oakland’s dream season march on?

Let’s go ahead and break down the AL Wild Card matchup and see who we think will move on.

Yankees (-168) vs. Athletics (+158) AL Wild Card Preview

The Starters

It took some deliberation, and there were surely a few candidates, but the Yankees will send hard-throwing right-hander Luis Severino to the mound tonight in the hope that he can build off a trio of solid outings entering this do-or-die contest.

Over his last three starts, Severino has allowed a combined four earned runs across 17.2 innings to go along with 18 strikeouts. For the season, the right-hander has pitched to a 3.39 ERA and a 2.95 FIP, but he was largely touched up throughout the months of July and August before settling back down in his last three September starts.

It would appear Severino is pitching in his comfort zone tonight at Yankee Stadium. The hulking right-hander produced a 2.74 ERA to go along with a 2.72 FIP at home this season to go along with a whopping 30.1% strikeout rate. On the road, his numbers slipped to a 3.99 ERA, 3.17 FIP and a 26.6% strikeout rate.

In his last start at home, he hurled seven innings of one-run ball to go along with six strikeouts in a win over the Red Sox. He pitched six innigns of one-run ball to go along with seven strikeouts in a win over these A’s at Yankee Stadium earlier in the season.

The A’s are going the Tampa Bay Rays route tonight and using an opener in Liam Hendriks before leaning on their stout bullpen to pitch them into the ALDS.

Hendriks will more than likely pitch just one inning to open this one as he has done so in each of his last seven starts. For the season, Hendriks has pitched to a 4.13 ERA and a 4.33 FIP, however he’s also rattled off 10 consecutive scoreless outings entering this one tonight.

That said, this is really about the A’s bullpen. Oakland’s ‘pen has been dynamite this season, ranking third with a 3.37 ERA on the campaign. The A’s have seven bullpen arms that have pitched at least 20 innings for them this season and have posted a sub-4.00 ERA.

And if Oakland has a lead entering the bottom of the ninth, good luck getting to Blake Treinen.

Treinen has been simply locked in this season, so much so that he should be garnering Cy Young attention. The right-hander has produced an eye-popping 0.78 ERA to go along with a 1.82 FIP and a 31.8% strikeout rate. He’s also given up a whopping one earned run since July 24th, spanning 30.1 innings.

The Bullpens

We’ve covered the A’s bullpen already, so we will use this section to cover the Yankees’ bullpen.

New York has the league’s fourth-ranked bullpen this season, one spot behind the A’s, and of course, just one tick over their ERA figure at 3.38. Both bullpens haven’t been quite that good lately, with the Yankees ranking 14th and the A’s 16th over the last two weeks.

Of course, the Yankees’ pen has many pieces giving them lights-out numbers. They have seven relievers with an ERA of 3.23 or under, including Aroldis Chapman who has turned in an unworldly 43.9% strikeout clip this season behind Dellin Betances and his 42.3% clip.

The Bats

If Severino or the A’s bullpen don’t have their best stuff tonight, we could see some fireworks in this one.

We are talking about a couple of the powerful offenses in baseball this season.

The Yankees, in fact, were the league’s most powerful offense this season with a team ISO of .202, the only team over the .200 mark. That said, the Athletics are not far behind, as their team .187.

Of course, the Yankees led all of baseball and set a home run record this season with a whopping 267 long balls. Oakland was again third in this department with 227 bombs on the season, which becomes even more impressive when we factor in the pitcher-friendly confines of their home ballpark at the O.CO Coliseum.

Just don’t expect a whole lot of action on the basepaths tonight as the A’s were dead last in baseball with just 35 steals on the season while the Yankees weren’t better with just 63, good for 25th.

The extra-base power potential in this game bodes well for entertainment value despite the pitching also being among the best in baseball.


At the end of the day I think it’s the Bronx Bombers who take this one down and move on to what should be an epic ALDS against the arch rival Red Sox.

At his best, Severino is simply one of the top pitchers in the American League. While he’s probably not at his peak where he was in the first three months of the season, he’s certainly be good lately.

He’s also been very good at home. The Yankees are a top-three offense at home in many categories, and I count that as essentially being top-two given the extreme hitter-friendly conditions at Coors Field in Colorado which makes the Rockies the best home offense in baseball.

Yes, the A’s are the league’s best road offense, but I think the home splits of Severino and the Yankees bullpen can solve that conundrum.

All told, I’m not sure there is a ton of value in taking the Yankees as fairly heavy favorites tonight, but I do believe they win the game.

If your betting, take the home side and buckle up for a wild ALDS.
Our Pick Yankees (-168)

Comments are closed.