Although he was pulled almost immediately out of his Wild Card game start, the Yankees have decided to push ace pitcher Luis Severino back to game three of the ALDS, starting things off with trade deadline acquisition Sonny Gray.
Gray had a decent season as a whole, pitching better in the spacious O.co Coliseum than he did once moving to New York as would be expected, but his struggles to end the season could be worrisome. In his final three starts, Gray only made it out of the fifth once and had a 7.36 ERA overall against three non-play-off teams in Tampa, Toronto and Baltimore.
Against Cleveland, Gray has been a mixed bag this year. The Indians destroyed him in Cleveland on May 30th, scoring 7 earned runs against the Oakland ace in 4.2 innings, but in their second match-up he threw six shut out innings and allowed just two hits. This win against Cleveland came during their roughest stretch of the season, the extended California road trip to start the second half of the season. His final start in the regular season against the Indians came on August third with the Yankees and, while he lost, only two of the four runs allowed were earned and he struck out six in six innings, looking more like his second start than his first.
Going against Gray will be the surprising choice of Trevor Bauer. A lot certainly went into the decision to hold Corey Kluber for game two, but the primary one was likely that it sets him to start a potential game five of the ALDS on regular rest and potentially saves him for game one of the ALCS should the Indians beat the Yankees in four or fewer.
As for Bauer, saying he would be the ace on many MLB teams isn’t much of an exaggeration as he finished 22nd in all of baseball in fWAR and 21st in qualified FIP. While Gray comes into the game with the better ERA, Bauer has the advantage in fWAR, FIP, K/9, HR/9 and total innings. In addition, he’s had a significantly worse BABIP which could show that Gray has been a bit luckier this year. Perhaps most importantly, this season has been a transformational one for Bauer as he changed strategy mid-season for great results.
Decreasing the number of pitch types he used per game and focusing more on his change-up and slider as out pitches, Bauer went from a 6.10 ERA through June 7th to a 3.15 ERA over his final 19 starts (20 appearances). From July 27th on that number drops to a 2.42 ERA as he went at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs in nine of his last six starts.
Overall, this is an incredibly close pitching match-up that slightly favors Cleveland. This gives the Yankees their best chance to win one of the first three games as Corey Kluber vs CC Sabathia and Carlos Carrasco vs Luis Severino seem to greatly favor Cleveland.
Here are your starting line-ups for Game one of the ALDS, starting at 7:30 PM on Fox Sports 1:
|SS||Francisco Lindor||LF||Brett Gardner|
|CF||Jason Kipnis||RF||Aaron Judge|
|2B||Jose Ramirez||C||Gary Sanchez|
|DH||Edwin Encarnacion||SS||Didi Gregorius|
|RF||Jay Bruce||2B||Starlin Castro|
|1B||Carlos Santana||1B||Greg Bird|
|LF||Lonnie Chisenhall||3B||Todd Frazier|
|C||Roberto Perez||DH||Chase Headley|
|3B||Giovanny Urshela||CF||Aaron Hicks|