2020 Postseason Preview: Yankees V. Indians
Cole v Bieber in game one. Then what?
Gerrit Cole and likely Cy Young winner Shane Bieber square off in game one of the first round of the American League playoffs for the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians respectively. As good as Cole has been (2.84 ERA, 4.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio) Bieber has simply been better. He’s given up half the home runs (7) and just 14 earned runs in 12 games. The Yankees must win game one to have any chance in this short series.
Waiting in the wings for games two and three are Zach Plesac and Carlos Carrasco, both of whom posted ERAs under 2.91. For the Yankees, they have Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ, who both have ERAs a half run higher. In the bullpen, Zach Britton was perfect on the year in save opportunities for the Yankees with eight. But Brad Hand has twice as many and numbers just as good for Cleveland.
So, if Cleveland has the upper hand in starting pitching, then what about the offense? New York’s DJ LeMahieu leads the way with a .364 average, followed by Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton. Even with injuries, New York hit 35 more homers than Cleveland. Not only was the power not there for the Indians, but the contact wasn’t either as they hit just .228. Even with Yankee catcher Gary Sanchez‘ preposterously low .147 batting average, New York was still 21 points better than Cleveland and 25 points better in on-base percentage.
So, what does it mean? Jose Ramirez, Franmil Reyes and Francisco Lindor don’t measure up against the best the Yankees have to offer and New York has the arms to pull their starters early at the first sign of trouble. Even the additional 15 errors they had aren’t enough to say they won’t advance.
Cleveland gets at least one win, but it’s the Yankees in three.