Yankees Wild Card Game Preview with Rosters and Predictions

Stay cool, Starlin! (Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

It all comes down to this. The Yankees are set to face off against the Minnesota Twins tomorrow night at home, where they played a league-leading 51-30, with breakout all-star Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98) on the hill against the 34-year old veteran right-hander Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28). Two teams which are very similar in regards to outperforming expectations for the 2017 season, both going into a year where not many experts had them contending, nonetheless locking up wild card spots.

This dream season for the Bronx Bombers could all very well come crashing down with just one game come tomorrow night, or extend into the division series against a red-hot Cleveland Indian team. A dream season that consisted of outstanding years from young stars like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius and Luis Severino, along with solid campaigns from veteran players in CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner. Here we will take an in-depth look at the pitching matchups and key offensive threats that will all impact tomorrow night’s outcome.

Luis Severino (NYY) vs. Ervin Santana (MIN)
Tomorrow night’s pitching duel will be a battle of old and new with Severino v. Santana. Following a dreadful 2016 season that saw him go 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA as a starter, the 23-year old Dominican native Luis Severino rebounded with a superb 2017 breakout year finishing in the top-5 in the league in ERA, strikeouts and WHIP. Set and ready to go for Tuesday night’s wild-card game, he will be making his first ever postseason start. When Joe Girardi was asked how Severino he’s performed in high-pressure situations, he replied “I think he’s responded really well … I think he’s pitched well down the stretch.”

With Ervin Santana taking the ball for the Twins, who is for sure their best bet, they have a starter going for them who put up legitimate ace numbers winning 16 games and passing the 200 innings mark for the sixth time in his career. The Yankees will have to hope they can provide a little more offense than what they did against Santana last time out after he held them to just two runs over 5 ⅔ innings in a 2-1 Yankee victory.

The Offense
Both the Yankees and the Twins placed in the top 5 in the American League in runs scored, but there’s one key difference between the two. Going into tomorrow, the Yankees are completely healthy from 1-9, along with a deep bench that could easily change a game. Minnesota on the other hand will be starting the game without one of their key hitters Miguel Sano. Sano is a 24-year old out of the Dominican Republic who hit 28 home runs in just 114 games, which translates to about 40 over a full 162 game season. Many Yankee fans breathed a sigh of relief after hearing the news that Twins manager Paul Molitor stated Sano was likely to start the game off the bench. Even if he comes into pinch hit, the Yankees would certainly take their chances with just one at-bat compared to four.
However, the Yankees have the ability to put on quite the offensive showing to combat anything the Twins put on the scoreboard. After all, they led all of baseball in home runs, and 2nd in runs just behind the Houston Astros. With a lineup that consists of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius in the middle of it, the Bombers have a chance to live up to their nickname each and every time they take the field.

The Bullpen
This won’t take long. The battle of the bullpens shouldn’t be much of a contest, on paper at least. Following a trade with the Chicago White Sox where, along with 3B Todd Frazier, they acquired David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, and the emergence of Chad Green (69 IP, 1.83 ERA, 103 K), the Yankees have put together one of the best bullpens in baseball, if not the best. They finished the season 3rd in ERA, 2nd in strikeouts, and 1st in opponent batting average against. The Twins on the other hand placed at 22nd in bullpen ERA and 27th in batting average against. If it comes to a bullpen battle, the odds will without a doubt be in the Yankees favor.


New York Yankees

Catchers: Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine
Infielders: Greg Bird, Starlin Castro, Todd Frazier, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade
​Outfielders: Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier
Designated Hitter: Matt Holliday
Pitchers: Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Adam Warren, CC Sabathia, Chasen Shreve

Minnesota Twins

Catchers: Jason Castro, Mitch Garver, Chris Gimenez
Infielders: Ehire Adrianza, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Joe Mauer, Jorge Polanco, Kenny Vargas

Outfielders: Byron Buxton, Zack Granite, Robbie Grossman, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario
Pitchers: Matt Belisle, Jose Berrios, Buddy Boshers, Alan Busenitz, Tyler Duffey, Dillon Gee, Trevor Hilderberger, Adalberto Mejia, Ryan Pressly, Taylor Rogers, Ervin Santana

The Verdict
On paper, the Yankees have the upper hand. With a 91-71 season that finished with a very strong 20-8 September, they look to be in line to face Cleveland in the ALDS on Thursday. The Twins, who blew away predictions following a 103 loss season in 2016, won 85 games which were better than the rest of the measly competition in the American League Wild Card hunt. If they can contain Aaron Judge and the Yankees potent offense, they could come out victorious as well, as long as they can scrape together some offensive production against Severino and the Yankees bullpen.

My Prediction
Yankees 6, Twins 2

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About Dan Rourke II 24 Articles

My name is Dan Rourke and I am Blue HQ’s New York Yankees writer. As long as I can remember, I’ve had an obsession with the sport of baseball and the Yankees, and I am very thankful I have been given the opportunity to cover what I love. Ever since I first read a column in the sports section of the New York Post, I knew sports media was right for me, which is why I am very grateful that Blue HQ Media gives me the platform to express my passion for the pinstripes.