Minnesota Twins @ New York Yankees: 8:10 P.M.
Just like the NL, the AL Wild Card game features two new playoff teams who missed out last year. It is fair to say that both teams have exceeding expectations coming into the year. Both teams have a few young stars who broke out this year and helped lead their respective teams to this game. The winner of this game will play the top-seeded Cleveland Indians. The Yankees have dominated the Twins over the last several seasons, but again, anything can happen in one game!
Judge, Sanchez, Yankees Bullpen take charge
The New York Yankees had mild expectations coming into the season, expected to be competitive and challenge for a playoff spot. New York got off to a hot start and never looked back, ultimately holding a top spot in the AL the entire year. A big reason for this was the breakout of MVP candidate Aaron Judge. I don’t care what people say, no one saw this coming, not to this extent. Judge set a record for home runs by a rookie, and he also hits the ball as hard as anyone in the league. Another young star for the Yankees is Gary Sanchez, who has proven that last year was no fluke by following it up with a tremendous offensive performance this year. His defensive skills are often questioned, but it is something that should be able to be fixed. The Yankees biggest strength is probably their bullpen, with arms such as Chapman, Betances, Robertson, Green, Kahnle, and Warren. The depth of this bullpen makes it crucial for the opponent to score runs early in the game before having to face this bullpen. Getting the start will be Luis Severino, who took a big step this year and established himself as the ace of this staff. Severino posted 14 wins along with a 2.98 ERA. On paper, the Yankees will be favored in this matchup.
Dozier, Santana, Mauer lead the way
The Minnesota Twins are back after losing 103 games a season ago, what a turnaround. This is truly a team no one saw coming this year, at least not this big of a turnaround. In the mix all year, after Cleveland went on their historic streak, Minnesota had no option but to set their sights on the wild card with the division out of reach. Sure enough, after a season of their own ups and downs, the Twins hung on to the second wild-card spot. The Twins are led by their leadoff man, veteran Brian Dozier. Dozier has been a consistent player with this team for years now, Dozier brings some pop in that leadoff role. Talking about veterans, how about Joe Mauer playing like it’s 2009. An overall solid year for him, hitting .305. The Twins have been given a spark by some of their younger players. Miguel Sano hit 28 home runs this year despite battling some injuries. Minnesota also has Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton who stepped up big time for the team this year holding down the outfield, and they are very exciting to watch. Moving to the mound, I’m still wondering what year it is because Ervin Santana also thinks that it is 2009. The veteran ace of the staff won 16 games and posted a 3.28 ERA, leading the way for the team. Santana will get the ball in this one game playoff.
Not many people are giving Minnesota a chance in this one, but I think that is because most people aren’t really familiar with this team. They’ll battle just like they’ve done all year. The Yankees will be favored in this game, and it is much deserved. It’ll be crucial for the Twins to scratch a few runs off Severino because the Yankee bullpen will be ready to go. I’m going to go with New York over Minnesota 4-3.