The Struggling Yankees Come to Cleveland For Playoff Baseball

Zach Shafron

It’s officially official!

The Cleveland Indians won eight of their last 10 games to secure the number four seed in the American League Playoffs (35-25 record). 

The Tribe will host the New York Yankees, the five seed (33-27), for a three-game series all at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

Taking a look in depth at the Yankees and it’s clear the Bronx Bombers play much better baseball at their home stadium. 

That record alone was 22-9 compared to 11-18 on the road. That’s why these games being in Cleveland is so crucial. 

Another interesting caveat is that the Yankees are losers of six of their last eight games to finish off the season.

One team is hot and the other is cold. The first game’s pitching matchup will consist of the Indians’ RHP Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.63 ERA) against RHP Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84 ERA) of the Yankees. 

That is going to be an absolute battle between two of the best pitchers in all of baseball. RHP Masahiro Tanaka (3-3, 3.56 ERA) will start to second game for the New York against RHP Carlos Carrasco (3-4, 2.91 ERA) for Cleveland. 

If there is a third game, Indians RHP Zach Plesac (4-2, 2.28 ERA) will make the start for the home team.

What’s interesting is the Yankees have a decision to make on their hands with two capable starters for that potential third game. LHP J.A. Happ (2-2, 3.47 ERA) or RHP Deivi Garcia (3-2, 4.98 ERA). 

Happ had a very poor start to the season, but certainly made up for it by finishing strong. Additionally, the left-hander carries with him the experience that Garcia doesn’t have. 

However, Garcia does dazzle with the arsenal of pitches to put away opposing hitters.

That decision will only have to be made if the first two games are split between the two teams.

Offensively, the Yankees are ranked 14th as a team with a .247 combined average. The Indians are 23rd at .228. In terms of hitting, the Yankees certainly carry an edge. Led by first baseman Luke Voit with a .277 average, 22 home runs and 52 runs batted in. 

Additionally, players like second baseman DJ LeMahieu have an incredible .364 average.

The Indians are going to need to find some sort of offensive spark in order to match what the Yankees bring at the plate with Volt, LeMahieu and others. This entire season has been a struggle when it comes to hitting for the Tribe. 

It’s been the phenomenal pitching staff that has the Indians where they are now.

Of course, this is 2020 and everything is different. That remains true with Major League Baseball and the unique format for the playoffs. 

Game 1 is this Tuesday night beginning at 7:00 p.m. The Indians will be without manager Terry Francona due to continuous health issues. Thus, Sandy Alomar will stay in the leading role. 

The Yankees are led by Aaron Boone, actually a one-time Indian as a player.

Buckle up because this is poised to be a great series between two teams that have a lot to prove.

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