American League Division Series Preview

Indians vs. Yankees

This is hardly a preview when the Indians are such a heavy favorite for this matchup. However, that being said, the Yankees will not just roll over and let the Indians have an easy ride to the ALCS. Coming off of a win against the Twins, the Yankees are fired up. If you believe in breaking down the statistics as far as they will go (and I do), there are some incredible things about this young Yankees squad. The Yankees’ 3rd order win percentage (a statistic which takes runs earned versus runs allowed, takes into account the toughness of opponents, and comes up with an estimated win percentage based on these findings) is second in the league, only to the Indians themselves. Now this does not by any means tip the Yanks to be a favorite, but only shows the Yankees will be a tough opponent for the Indians. If we look at the 2017 season, the Indians won 5 of 7 against the Yankees, even though the run totals were merely 35-31 (again pointing to the 3rd order win percentage). If the Yankees get their bats going like they did on Tuesday in the Wild Card game, there is a very likely chance that the Yanks can steal a few games from the Indians pushing it to a Game 5 scenario.

All of that being said however, the Indians are one of the hottest teams in baseball. Their historic win streak this season is nothing to bat an eye over when considering the playoffs, because although it ended, they continued to be red hot through the end of the season. Corey Kluber had a Cy Young worthy year, with an 18-4 record, an astounding 2.25 ERA, 265 Ks, and 5 complete games on the season. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Carrasco had a great year with a similar record and a 3.29 ERA, which is not to down play the rest of the formidable rotation for the Indians with Bauer, Tomlin, Clevinger, and Salazar. Get to their pen and you have people like Andrew Miller who threw in 57 games and had a 1.44 ERA. Cody Allen also had a good year, although took a loss in a few too many tough situations.

Then we get to the Indians line-up. Names we are all pretty familiar with after the playoff run that the Indians had last year, like Lindor, Kipnis, and Santana. Add to that mix the bats of Encarnacion and Bruce, and you have a scary offense that the Yankees will have to face.

Now the Yankees offense is not too shabby themselves as we saw on Tuesday, and with sluggers like Judge and Sanchez you can’t be too sure of anything. The Yanks have had an impressive outing this year for such a young team, which can also be to their detriment as we saw with Severino’s pitching (if you want to call it that) on Tuesday. If the bats can heat up against the Indians rotation and bullpen, then there is a fighting chance for the Yankees to stay into the games and let their impressive bullpen shut down the Indians in the late innings. That being said, the bullpen is stretched a little thin with the stress they put on their arms on Tuesday night. After Severino, the Yankees don’t have too much to flash in their rotation, although Sabathia had a pretty great year. Tanaka did not show much to be confident in this year, and neither did the rest of their rotation with no one below a 3.5 ERA (excluding Severino).

The only chance the Yankees have relies on their bats staying hot, and the young offense taking a quick jump on whatever they can grab off of the Indian’s arms, and relying on some quality starts with an oppression from their bullpen to keep them in each game. What all of this means? Indians beat the Yankees in 3 games, maybe 4 if the Yankees get an amazing start out of one of their adequate rotation.

Astros vs. Red Sox

This matchup may prove to be more exciting. Rotation wise, the Astros have this series in the bag. With Keuchel and Peacock with a sub 3 or 3 ERA, and the rest of their rotation around a 3.5 (excluding Fiers), the Astros offense can almost expect a quality start out of any starter. Now lets talk about Fiers and his not so great year. Although he posted a 5.22 ERA and had a losing record, he still has some magic to post up some decent numbers if the Astros are relying on him. The Red Sox on the other hand have been dependent on Sale and Pomeranz this year with Porcello having a rough go at it. Fister has a solid arm but did not show much of it this year for the Red Sox. So clear winner in this department is the Astros.

The bullpen however, is a bit of a different story. Giles had a pretty great year posting a 2.3 ERA with 34 saves, and Devenski had great middle relief. However, looking past them there isn’t much to show for the Indians. The Red Sox bullpen had a very impressive year with almost no one above a 4 ERA, and Kimbrel mowing batters down with a 1.43 ERA and 35 saves. Their bullpen might be their saving grace in a couple of close games, especially if Kimbrel is given an opportunity every game to come in and show the Astros what a great season he has had. This category falls lightly to the Red Sox advantage, so if they can stay in close contention, they will have the back third of the game on lockdown.

The bats are a tough comparison. Neither team had a lot of clear power in their lineups outside of Springer who hit 34 round trippers this year, and the only one on either team to hit over 30. However when you take into account Altuve, Correa, Reddick and Gurriel, you are given a consistency of hitting that is astounding. If the Astros can string hit after hit together, they will be a force to be reckoned with and small ball the Red Sox to their death. However, that being said, the Red Sox have posted a bit of a different consistency with just about any batter able to step up and deliver some powerful hits when they need them, with only Pedroia and Vazquez in single digit home run years who instead posted the best averages on the team playing more than 40 games. Both teams have some solid veterans on their teams who may deliever some post season magic like Ramirez for the Red Sox and Beltran for the Astros. However, I am inclined to like the Astros in this matchup with the year they’ve had and the impressive rounded team they have mustered this year.

If the Astros bats can stay healthy and hearty this post season, and their rotation stay consistent, I see the Astros taking this postseason all the way to the big show. However the Red Sox are going to give the Astros their first of many runs for their money this postseason and it will be an uphill battle the whole way. Red Sox fall to the Astros in 5, with Altuve and Correa making headlines for themselves in October (and very possibly November) history.

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