Although most Yankees fans are focused on the Houston Astros or Los Angeles Dodgers, the two other 100-win teams in the MLB, the Yankees will still have to beat someone else in the ALDS first to get to their ultimate goal.
There’s an off-chance that the Yankees might have to face the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS, which is far from an appealing matchup. It’s also possible that the Bombers could face Oakland in the ALCS, if they were to win the Wild Card Game and then play—and beat—Houston in the ALDS. Although the Yankees are a better team, the A’s would present a difficult challenge for them.
For one, the A’s have had the Yankees’ number in recent years. The Yankees are just 2-4 against the A’s this year, and just 18-28 against Oakland since 2013. Over that span, they’ve only picked up seven wins at Oakland, which could present an unfriendly matchup once the series hits the road. Although the Yankees’ two wins versus the A’s this year were satisfying walk-offs, the fact remains that the Yankees were a few lucky swings away from getting swept by Oakland this year. They are definitely a team that feels confident against the Yankees.
There’s more to the A’s than meets the eye. They still rely on Johnny Wholestaff on the mound and they don’t strike out too many hitters, but their team has combined for the seventh-best ERA in baseball (4.04) anyway. Offensively, the A’s have gone big – they are top-five in the league in home runs, sixth in runs scored, and bottom-five in stolen bases. These A’s aren’t the Moneyball teams of the early 2000s – they swing for the fences. Seven of their players have more than 20 home runs and only three have batting averages higher than .270.
This is a tough matchup for a Yankees pitching staff that struggles giving up the long ball. The A’s don’t necessarily have star power, but they sure have home run power. The Yankees’ bullpen would have to be on top of its game to contain all the power in the A’s lineup.
The Bombers’ biggest advantage against the A’s comes when they’re at bat. Again, the A’s pitchers have been really solid this season collectively, but I don’t doubt that the Yankees could get to Mike Fiers, Brett Anderson, Tanner Roark or Homer Bailey if given the chance. The Athletics’ greatest chance at taming the Yankees would come out of their bullpen, which has been a top-five unit this year.
Although it wouldn’t be the end of the world to face the Athletics in the ALDS, it’s probably one of the least appealing options. It’s most likely the Yankees will face the Twins, which would be the toughest matchup, but the Athletics aren’t far behind. This matchup could only happen if the Yankees earned the No. 1 seed and the A’s won the Wild Card game, but it’s definitely possible. It’s less likely that they would face them in the ALCS since they’d have to get through a tough Houston team first.
The 2019 Yankees shouldn’t fear anyone going into the playoffs. Oakland wouldn’t be favorites in any series, but they have the classic look of an upset special if they get the right matchup. Let’s just hope it’s not the Yankees.