In a playoff showdown between the only two offenses to ever slug more than 300 home runs in a single season, it was the New York Yankees who prevailed rather easily and moved on to the American League Championship Series. Who they face was still unknown at press time Tuesday afternoon.
But no matter the opponent, the Yankees have to be feeling good after their latest decisive postseason beatdown of the Minnesota Twins. It was, after all, a true team effort.
The stacked lineup delivered. In the three-game sweep, the Bronx Bombers churned out 23 runs. They received standout pitching from both the starters and relievers, too, limiting the Twins — who finished one long ball ahead of the Yanks for the major league record — to seven total runs. Minnesota’s power-oozing lineup managed only a single homer over the final two games as well.
The Yankees only needed five home runs in their onslaught. Of note, each tater came from a different player — none of which being either of their three biggest boppers, Giancarlo Stanton, Edwin Encarnacion and Aaron Judge.
Obviously, that’s going to change at some point in the next round, so you have to figure their offense should continue to provide activity for the scoreboard. The question is: Can the pitching hold up?
Normally in our weekly installment of Total Bases, I look at upcoming pitching matchups and how to bet each coinciding over/under. With the next series’ matchups still to be determined, let’s take a quick look at where New York’s pitching staff stands entering the American League Championship Series.
James Paxton — LHP (Probable Game 1 starter): Paxton started the opener of the ALDS, and though he surrendered more runs in the outing than any of his rotation mates, it wasn’t exactly a bad outing either.
The left-hander otherwise known as Big Maple fell one out short of going the required five innings to qualify for the win. But he was still pretty good, accumulating eight strikeouts compared to only one walk.
He was done in by the long ball, yielding a pair of homers in a start for the first time in nearly three months. Don’t expect that to occur in his next outing, as Paxton remarkably allowed only two home runs total in his final eight regular season starts.
Masahiro Tanaka — RHP (Probable Game 2 starter): The Yanks figure to line up Tanaka behind Paxton again, though it’s also possible they save the right-hander for Game 3 at Yankee Stadium (if they’re facing the Houston Astros) based on his home-and-road splits.
Either way, Tanaka is in a good rhythm right now after a nice end to the regular season and an enthralling beginning to his playoffs. He only went five innings in beating the Twins but he looked very sharp in doing so, giving up only one run and scattering just four baserunners.
Luis Severino — RHP (Probable Game 3 starter): Here we have the dark horse of the rotation and someone who just might be the most important piece in determine how far the Yankees go.
It’s easy to forget that Severino was New York’s most valuable pitcher last year, when he was 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA. Then, the 25-year-old succumbed to injury and missed all but the final few weeks of the 2019 season.
Fortunately for the Yanks, Severino didn’t miss a beat upon his return. He missed plenty of bats, that’s for sure, in his three September assignments, picking up 17 strikeouts across 12 frames and giving up just two runs in the process.
He followed that up with a dazzling four-inning start at Target Field to help finish off Minnesota. Severino had to navigate through some trouble but ultimately came away without a scratch, as the Twins didn’t plate any runs off the flame-throwing right-hander. Look for Severino to continue along in his regular top form.
Last week: 1-1