By Terry Cushman – @cushmanMLB
Despite 108 wins during the 2018 regular season, it’s hard not to be fixated on the issues surrounding the Red Sox. Their bullpen is putrid. David Price has yet to overcome his past demons. Chris Sale’s health has come into question. Andrew Benintendi has only hit two home runs since the all star break. None of which came in the month of September. Nonetheless, they are the number one seed.
On Wednesday night, the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics will square off in the one game American League wild card. Oakland arrived at this game due to their high powered offense, and stellar bullpen. Their rotation is a bit tattered, especially with the season ending injury to their ace, Sean Manaea, but stunned the league to win 97 games.
Like the Red Sox, the Yankees have had their fair share of complications. Luis Severino went from Cy Young favorite, to an ERA north of 6.00 during the second half. C.C. Sabathia has been less reliable than 2017. Sonny Gray is a complete bust and not even on the post season roster. Their bullpen hasn’t exactly been lights out, but still formidable aside from persistent knee issues to their closer, Aroldis Chapman.
Many Red Sox fans view Oakland as a team who has simply overachieved, and is not quite ready to embark on a deep run through the playoffs. Mike Fiers, Brett Anderson, and Edwin Jackson are not exactly “sexy” names to be headlining a starting playoff rotation, but all three are serviceable enough to go five or so innings of two to three run ball before turning things over to their top notch bullpen. Shawn Kelley, Jeurys Familia were acquired mid season. Their closer Blake Treinen has been one of the very best in the majors this season. They are a trio who won’t be surrendering any leads after the sixth inning, if any at all.
The Yankees have an explosive lineup, which is finally healthy. Aaron Judge is back. Luke Voit has had an emergence in the second half similar to Gary Sanchez in 2016. And Miguel Andujar has made an extremely compelling case with his candidacy for rookie of the year honors. Those same Red Sox fans view this, and are quick to decide Oakland is the “easier” matchup.
For myself, I am more comfortable with a series against the Yankees. Our lineup has gotten to Betances, Robertson, and Chapman. Every single starter in New York’s rotation has had their struggles with us. And there is no mystery as to who the Yankees are. The team that shows up ready for a fight will likely be the victor between the two.
With Oakland, there are a lot of unknowns, and a huge lack of familiarity. The Red Sox lost four of their six regular season games to them earlier this year. Which also happened to take place before Billy Beane could make any major upgrades. Even without Manaea, the Athletics are a far more competitive team than a few months ago, with no shortage of chemistry.
What also is troublesome is that Boston never particularly plays well out on the west coast, which is where game three at the very least will be played should Oakland defeat New York. Not to mention that crowd, who hasn’t witnessed a home playoff game since the wildcard in 2014, will be absolutely rabid.
Give me the Yankees all day long with Boston’s home field advantage. Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and Nathan Eovaldi all have decent numbers against their ever potent lineup. If they can pitch around the home runs, the Red Sox offense is potentially far more dynamic. Our bullpen is what it is. If the rest of the team does it’s job, the bullpen could still possibly weather the storm.
I want no part of a five game series against Oakland, they have “Cleveland 2016” written all over them.
BENNY & THE BETTS PODCAST (EP. 84)
ARE THE RED SOX BUILT FOR OCTOBER? WHO DOESN’T MAKE THE PLAYOFF ROSTER? TERRY PREFERS YANKEES, JEREMY/BILLY PREFER OAKLAND!
Also avail on #spreaker #spotify #soundcloud #itunes