There really couldn’t be anymore apropos of a playoff matchup in this year’s postseason than the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins going at it. Given how this campaign will be remembered as the Year of the Long Ball, it seems only fitting they collide in October.
Of course, many teams set franchise records for most home runs in a season but it was these two power-oozing offenses that led the way, even both topping the previous record for most homers by any team ever (originally set by, interesting enough, the 2017 Yankees).
It was the Twins who ultimately came away with the new record (308) while New York came up just one homer short. That’s about the only leg up Minnesota has, though, seeing as how the Yankees have basically owned them throughout history in playoff action.
In fact, the two franchises have met in five different postseasons dating back to 2003 — including the American League Wild Card Game two years ago. The Yankees emerged victorious in all five instances, however, and overall, they amassed a dominant 13-2 record in those games.
Will history repeat itself once again? The hope lies in this year’s Twins, otherwise known as the cleverly-nicknamed Bomba Squad, which appears to be far superior than any other Minnesota roster disposed of by the Bronx Bombers in the past.
Both rotations haven’t been officially announced yet but it can be gathered who will begin the first two games at Yankee Stadium for each side. Let’s assess those matchups.
Jose Berrios vs. James Paxton (Friday): No doubt about who’s getting the ball first for the Twins. That would be Berrios, who has pretty much been Minnesota’s staff ace since first arriving in the Twin Cities three years ago. He’s enjoyed a very nice career thus far, hence how he’s earned two All-Star nods, and he’s coming off another good season, one that saw him log 200-plus innings for the first time.
But caution might need to be expressed when thinking about backing the Puerto Rican native. It should be common knowledge that Berrios has been less effective during his time in the big leagues on the road (4.81 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) than at home (3.60 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). He also hasn’t had success against the Yankees, holding a 6.35 ERA and 1.76 WHIP in four lifetime-meetings (including playoffs). Additionally, New York cranked out three home runs off the right-hander.
On the other side, there may be more certainty involved related to the Game 1 starter. After a slow start to his stint in pinstripes, Paxton turned it up in a big way and proved why he was acquired in the first place to serve as the club’s co-ace.
Up until his final start of the campaign, in which the former Seattle Mariner worked only the opening frame, Paxton had remarkably won 10 straight assignments. During this span, he crafted together a pretty 2.55 ERA. He also yielded only five homers, and coupled with Berrios’ ability to keep the ball in the park down the stretch, that could be what dictates the series opener. UNDER
Jake Odorizzi vs. Luis Severino (Saturday): One of the most surprising things about the Yanks’ rousing success in 2019 has been they accomplished just about all of it without their reigning ace Severino, who only returned from his season-long tenure on the injured list a few weeks ago. The good news is that he’s been pretty sharp.
At the same time, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recall Severino’s last date with this opponent on a postseason stage. Just like the site of this affair, it was also at Yankee Stadium in the aforementioned Wild Card Game, when Severino failed to escape the first inning. He managed only one out as he was battered for three runs on four hits, including a pair of taters.
Fortunately for New York, Odorizzi hasn’t really been much better than that in their lifetime meetings. Of course, the 29-year-old has plenty of history with the Yankees from his time as a Tampa Bay Ray, though it can’t be something the righty looks back fondly on. In 17 career starts (and one relief appearance) opposite the Yankees, Odorizzi’s posted a 4.71 ERA, not to mention a 5.40 ERA in the Bronx. OVER
Last week: 1-2