The 60-game spring of a MLB regular season is over and the playoffs begin on Tuesday, September 29, 2020, when the New York Yankees (33-27) visit the Cleveland Indians (35-25) for game one of the AL Wild Card series. New York finished second in the AL East, seven games back of the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland finished in third in the AL Central, tied with Chicago for second and one game back of the division winning Minnesota Twins. This game will air live on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. EST.
The New York Yankees are -122 to advance to the American League Division Series. Cleveland is +104 to advance.
New York is limping into the playoffs as they lost six of their last eight regular season games and are coming off a final series that saw them lose two of the three to the Miami Marlins. The Yankees lost 4-3, in 10 innings, in game one and 5-0 on Sunday in the rubber game. New York took game two 11-4.
Cleveland, on the other hand, is one of the hottest teams in the league right now as they won nine of their last 11 regular season games. The Indians finished the season by winning three of four at the Detroit Tigers, then swept the Chicago White Sox in a four-game season, and, finally, beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in two of three in their final series of the season.
New York Yankees (-108) at Cleveland Indians (-108)
Pitching Matchup: Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84 ERA, 0.96 WHIP) vs Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.63 ERA, 0.87 WHIP)
Gerrit Cole hit a rough patch at the end of August, but the Yankees ace has turned things around in September and looks to be in top gear heading into this three-game series. Cole pitched four times in September, twice against both Baltimore and Toronto, and allowed just 14 hits and seven runs (three earned) in 27.0 innings. Gerrit Cole should finish in the top five of the Cy Young voting in his first season with New York.
Speaking of AL Cy Young, the winner will be taking the mound for Cleveland in this game as Shane Bieber has the best season of any pitcher in baseball. Bieber had his worst month of the season in September, but he bounced back with a great final start of the season to get ready for these playoffs. Last time out, Bieber held the Chicago White Sox to two hits and one run (zero earned) in 5.0 innings pitched. In September, the eventual Cy Young winner allowed 16 hits and eight runs (seven earned) in 24.2 innings pitched.
We could not ask for a better pitching matchup in the playoffs.
The Yankees lineup boasts a few bats that led the American League in some major categories. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu won the AL batting title with a .364 batting average and led the league with a .421 on base percentage, and 1.011 OPS. LeMahieu was sixth in the AL with a .590 slugging percentage and could be lifting a MVP trophy in a few weeks. First baseman Luke Voit led the AL with 22 home runs and was second with 52 RBI’s and a .610 slugging.
Third baseman Jose Ramirez has been the best Indians hitter this season as he was top 15 in the AL in batting average, on base percentage, slugging, OPS, home runs and RBIs.
MLB Predictions: I am backing the Cleveland Indians in game one of this AL Wild Card series.
2020 Picks Record: 57-39