Yesterday was a very good day to be a Yankee fan, as the team jumped all over Cleveland starter Shane Bieber in the first inning en route to a 12-3 victory in game one of this Wild Card Series. The Yankees can sweep Cleveland right out of the playoffs with a similar outing tonight, and they’ll send on of the best postseason pitchers of all time to the mound.
Masahiro Tanaka has fluctuated from average-to-good in the regular season for the Yankees, but in the playoffs, he’s a completely different man. His 1.76 playoff ERA is two runs less than his regular season mark, and the lowest of any Yankee postseason performer not named Mariano Rivera. That’s some company.
He faced Cleveland in game three of the 2017 ALDS, throwing seven shutout innings as the Yankees began their now-famous comeback in that series. Tonight, he’ll face a lineup starting four hitters he mowed down three seasons ago.
Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland’s starter, was also the starter in that game three, and matched Tanaka pitch for pitch, throwing 5.2 innings of no-run ball. He’s had an excellent 2020 - 2.91 ERA and 3.59 FIP, striking out almost 11 per nine.
The only change from last night’s lineup is the insertion of Gary Sánchez at catcher over Kyle Higashioka. Otherwise, why mess with the squad that put up a dozen 24 hours ago?
First pitch comes at 7:05PM EDT, on ESPN.