The regular season is over, but the playoffs are only just starting. The Yankees went 91-71 for the year, but it will all come down to one game when they face the Minnesota Twins in the American League Wild Card Game on Tuesday, October 3. We have a whole day to wait before we find out this team’s fate, so instead of sitting on our hands, let’s look ahead at the upcoming matchup.
There are three Yankees to watch, who could very well decide the game for the Yankees. No one player will have more of an effect than Luis Severino, the game’s starter, but other than him, here are three players you should be paying attention to on Tuesday night.
Telling you to look out for one of the best players in baseball seems kind of ridiculous, but there’s a reason I’m talking about Aaron Judge right now. Judge ended the season on the right foot, hitting .406/.556/1.281 with eight home runs in his last 10 games. His September performance went a long way toward reversing his second-half slide and brings him into the playoffs while riding a hot streak.
The Yankees will also be in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium, and no player has benefitted from his home ballpark quite like Judge has. By the time everything was said and done, he hit 33 of his 52 home runs in the Bronx. These two factors set him up for a big opportunity to make a difference in the Wild Card Game. Ervin Santana has a 1.32 HR/9 this year, so let’s hope Judge can take advantage here.
I have never been happier to be wrong. While I have always believed Greg Bird to be the team’s first baseman going forward, I did not think he could recover so quickly like he did after coming back from injury. I wrote an article a few weeks ago that postulated who should make the roster, and I decided to leave Bird off it because at the time he was really struggling. I figured it was too much to ask him to come back from a devastating foot injury after missing three months of the season, and become a difference maker. Just pull the plug and hope things turn out better next year.
Boy was I wrong. In his last 10 games, Bird has hit .333/.395/.818 with four home runs, and he’s done it while looking great at first base. Using Chase Headley at first had worked for awhile, but his bat has since cooled. Bird has managed to usurp him as the team’s starting first baseman and has earned the start on Tuesday.
I have Dellin Betances here for a very different reason from Judge and Bird. While the previous two have done well in recent weeks, Dellin has struggled mightily. He finished the month of September with a 5.87 ERA, which has become a yearly trend for him. His numbers were likely not helped by an ugly 6.52 BB/9 this past month.
With numbers like this, it’s hard to say what kind of role he will have in the Wild Card Game, and hopefully beyond. It was mentioned on the broadcast recently that Joe Girardi sees Chad Green as his 7th inning guy, uses David Robertson in the 8th, and has Aroldis Chapman in the 9th, so where does that leave Dellin Betances?
I would be shocked if he wasn’t on the roster, but it’s a matter of finding the right place for him. It’s hard to see him being used as a fireman, considering his recent struggles and lack of control. It’s crazy to think that the Yankees could be just fine without Betances, but I have to believe that he will play a key role somewhere before everything is said and done. He needs a good comeback performance.