Analysis

How Would The Yankees Handle Oakland In The Wild Card Game?

On Monday, the Yankees began a three-game series against the A’s, and it seems they will have their hands full in the Wild Card game. 

Previewing the Potential Wild Card Game

The Starters

Luis Severino will presumably start the Wild Card game for the Yankees the second year in a row, but who will start for the A’s? Only one Oakland pitcher, Sean Manaea, has pitched more than 100 innings and he’s currently on the disabled list.

Perhaps we are looking a bit too far ahead, as the A’s have not even figure out who is starting on Friday. Seriously though, the A’s have a bevy of choices, all of whom are mediocre at best. If Manaea’s season is over, Oakland will most likely turn to veteran Trevor Cahill who leads the team in fWAR and FIP. Whoever the starter is will undoubtedly be on a short leash.

The Relievers

The Yankees came into this season boasting perhaps the best relief corps in the league and based on the numbers, they have been. Yankees relievers lead the major leagues with 8.1 fWAR and a ridiculous 11.37 k/9. The defending champion Astros are second in both categories with 7.2 fWAR and a 10.71 k/9.

However, as the season has gone on, the A’s have improved their pen significantly. Headlined by closer Blake Treinen and rookie Lou Trivino, and with the additions of Juerys Familia, Fernando Rodney, and Shawn Kelley, the A’s are now ranked fifth overall in fWAR. In fact, they have had the third best bullpen since the All-Star break, while the Yankees have ranked sixth.

A’s closer Blake Treinen boasts a 100mph sinker and a .92 ERA (1.75 FIP).

Chapman Injury

The Yankees have their own fireballing closer to throw at the A’s, but Aroldis Chapman is currently on the DL and the Yankees are unsure of when he will return.

Chapman has been absolutely dominant this season with a 16.09 k/9 and 1.90 FIP. Make no mistake, despite Dellin Betances’ also having a dominant season, if the Yankees have to play a Wild Card game without the “Cuban Missile,” their chances of winning that game decrease dramatically.

The Lineups

The addition of MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees brought with it speculation that the Yankees could have two players threaten for the home run crown in the same season. While Stanton has performed well in his first season in New York, he certainly has not been on the level, power-wise, of his 2017 campaign where he slugged 59 homers.

Aaron Judge, the other half of the duo was having a terrific sophomore season, however, he has been on the disabled list for over a month now and just started swinging a bat on Monday.

Who would have thought that on September 1, 5’10” Khris Davis of the Oakland A’s would be leading the AL with 40 home runs? In fact, what the under-appreciated Davis has done for Oakland over the past three seasons is historic.

The Teams Overall

While the A’s may not have the star power that the Yankees lineup has, they have performed similarly as a team this season, and, perhaps most importantly, are very healthy at the moment.

The Yankees and A’s rank third and fourth overall in fWAR, with the Yankees edging out the A’s. Their team triple slash is similar with the Yankees batting .251/.329/.451 and the A’s close behind with a line of .250/.322/.436. The Yankees certainly are hitting for more power, and far outclass the rest of the majors with 224 home runs as a team, but the A’s are in third place (by one) with 190 home runs.

The A’s also fair slightly better on with defensive metrics compared to the Yankees, while New York has the edge in baserunning.

Mike, first time, long time. Can the sum of a team’s parts ever be greater than the whole? I’ll hang up and listen.

Overall these two teams are very evenly matched on the season. Both teams have injury concerns as we enter the home stretch of the season, with the Yankees perhaps missing the most impactful players. Anything can happen in a one-game playoff and ultimately the only thing the Yankees can hope for is that they will be at full strength for that game. Oakland is a well put together team and has the bullpen to be able to make a one-game playoff a nightmare for an opposing lineup.

Very wise words Mr. Gardner. Let’s hope everyone is peaking a month from now on October 3.

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