The New York Yankees avoided a tiebreaker on Monday by winning their game on Sunday.
They tied against the Boston Red Sox for the top American League Wild Card spot, and now both teams will battle it out to see who is going to face the Tampa Bay Rays in the Division Series.
Here are the three biggest storylines ahead of the game.
3. Can The Offense Show Up?
For all the fanfare about the Yankees offense before the season, the unit was a disappointment.
A stat named weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+, allows us to use a player’s offensive output and determine if his contributions were considered above or below-average.
In this case, 100 is considered average: anything higher is above-average, and anything lower is below-average.
Most of the remaining regulars were basically average or slightly below: DJ LeMahieu (100 wRC+), Gleyber Torres (94), Gary Sanchez (99), Brett Gardner (93), Gio Urshela (96), Anthony Rizzo (113), and Joey Gallo (95).
You could argue that all of them have the potential to produce more, but it just hasn’t happened this year.
Can the Yankees offense produce anything against Nathan Eovaldi?
It’s something to watch.
2. The Bullpen Is Rested And Ready To Rock
However, they rested on Monday, and are all ready to rock Tuesday night.
Boston does have some good bullpen arms, but in the head to head comparison, the Yankees relief corps are considerably better.
The #Yankees' best relievers are rolling leading up to tomorrow's Wild Card Game…
🔹Chapman: 1 ER in last 10 G
🔹Green: 0.00 ERA in last 8.1 IP
🔹Loáisiga: Retired 8 of 10 since IL
🔹Holmes: 1 ER in last 11.1 IP
🔹Peralta: 0.00 ERA in last 6.1 IP
🔹Severino: 0.00 ERA since IL
— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) October 4, 2021
They have Gerrit Cole ready to take the ball and go long if needed, but in case they need to call reinforcements, everybody is ready.
1. Gerrit Cole Is Amped Up
Perhaps the single most important player on the Yankees roster for the Wild Card game is pitcher Cole.
The Yankees avoided using him on short rest on Sunday, knowing that if they lost, they would have had to play a tiebreaker game with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Fortunately for them, Jameson Taillon and the bullpen did their job and kept the Rays at bay, winning the game in the ninth inning with a walk-off single by Judge.
As a result, Cole enters Tuesday night’s affair with five full days of rest since his last outing, on Wednesday night against the Blue Jays.
That day, he wasn’t very good, conceding five earned runs in six frames.
His location was off and he allowed five extra-base hits on his fastball alone.
He jeopardized his Cy Young chances, although he still has a shot with 181.1 innings of a 3.23 ERA and a 2.92 Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP.
Cole, who had 5.3 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), had a 4.91 ERA against Boston in 2021.
Gerrit Cole, show us what u got pic.twitter.com/13Omh2D6ef
— EREH 🐢 (@JCinurAREA) October 5, 2021
He can’t wait to take the ball, as he told MLB.com:
“It’s like, ‘Can we get it going already?’”. “It’s like a bit of a waiting game, which is good for the body and good for the mind, to a certain extent, to recover. But you’re champing at the bit to get back out there. I’m excited for the challenge that’s ahead of us.”