After securing first AL East title since 2012, the Yankees face off against the Twins in Yankee Stadium at 7:07 PM. While every Yankee fan should be incredibly excited about the Chase for 28, there are some crucial pieces of information to know before the series begins.
James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino are the Game 1-3 starters.
Yankee manager Aaron Boone decided to play the hot hand, and go with Paxton to kick off the homestand. The Big Maple deserved the Game 1 nod thanks to a superb September. Paxton pitched to a 1.05 ERA, 2.20 FIP, and hitters slashed just .156/.214/.233 with a miniscule .199 wOBA. The only reason fans speculated Paxton would not start Game 1 would be because of a tight glute muscle. However, Paxton was solely taken out because of precautionary reasons, which downplayed any thoughts of a lingering injury. Also, Boone took the conservative approach of starting Severino in Game 3, despite pitching extremely well in two of his three September starts (9.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 13 K). That left Tanaka as the Game 2 option. Tanaka always seems to step up in big games. In fact, he has a 1.50 ERA, .162 BAA, and 0.80 WHIP in his five career playoff starts. Meanwhile, J.A. (1.65 ERA, 3.10 FIP .188/.257/.313, .248 wOBA in September) will be in relief throughout the series and can make a surprisingly strong tandem with opener Chad Green (0.68 ERA, 0.21 FIP, .111/.184/.178, .166 wOBA in a potential Game 4.
CC Sabathia will not pitch in the ALDS
The six-foot-seven lefty pitched in a simulated game this Tuesday after receiving a cortisone shot in his pitching shoulder. Despite pitching well in the simulated game, Boone held him off the 25-man roster. Since Sabathia is not too familiar with pitching in the bullpen, and warming up several times throughout the game, Boone thought it would be better to rest the retiring 39-year-old. Sabathia does have a legitimate chance to play in the ALCS and World Series if the Yankees make it that far, and can be a reliable long reliever out of the bullpen. Meanwhile, if the Yankees fall short against the Twins, Sabathia would finish his Major League career with a record of 251-161, 3.74 ERA, 3577.1 IP, 3093 Ks (just one of seventeen pitchers to achieve 3000 Ks), an AL Cy Young in 2007, a World Series victory with the Yankees in 2009, and six All-Star selections.
Edwin Encarnacion should be able available for the ALDS and Game 1
Encarnacion will most likely be on the ALDS roster, after being sidelined with a left oblique strain since September 12th. The powerful slugger hit in a couple of simulated games this week, and should be ready to go. The more important question regarding Encarnacion is whether he will or will not be starting Game 1. Although Luke Voit struggled as the season ended slashing .194/.326/.394, 85 wRC+, and .299 wOBA, he has been healthier than Encarnacion. That being said, Encarnacion should get his fair share of at bats during the ALDS.
AL: American League
Chase for 28: The chase for the Yankees 28th career World Series championship
ERA: Earned run average. The number of runs a pitcher allows on average in a nine-inning game. MLB average: 4.15 ERA.
FIP: Fielding Independent of Pitching. Essentially a more accurate form of ERA that only takes into account what the pitcher. MLB average: 4.20 FIP
AB: At Bats
PA: Plate Appearances
HBP:Hit by Pitch
Triple Slash Line: Batting Average (H/AB)/On Base Percentage (H+BB+HBP/PA)/Slugging (1B*1 + 2B*2+ 3B*3+HR*4)/AB. MLB average: .248/.318/.409.
wOBA: Weighted On Base Percentage Essentially a better measure of On Base Percentage. MLB average: .320 wOBA
ER: Earned Runs
ALDS: American League Division Series. A best of five series between two teams.
ALCS: American League Championship Series. A best of seven series between the two best teams in the AL.
25-man roster: The 25 players on a Major League Roster
AL Cy Young: The award for the best pitcher in the AL.
wRC+: Weighted runs created plus. An offensive stat where 100 wRC+ is league average, above this mark is above average offensive value, while below this mark is below average offensive value.