ALDS Preview: New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians

Yankees and Indians 2017 Regular Season

New York Yankees – 91-71 (2nd AL East)

The New York Yankees came into this season with the assumption that they were one or two seasons away from really competing to win a championship. They had several young bats coming up through the ranks of their system and a few unproven pitchers that were expected to continue to develop into better players before they would challenge the Red Sox for the 2018 AL East title.

Well everything has seemed to go the right way for the Bronx Bombers in 2017 and now they find themselves ahead of schedule and smack dab in the middle of the hunt for the AL crown. After beating a less than stellar Minnesota Twins team on Tuesday night in the AL Wild Card game, they now are matched up with the reigning AL champion Cleveland Indians.

It has been the young bats that have carried the Yanks this season and they ended the season with the second best team wRC+ at 108, behind the almighty Houston Astros. You know the middle of the order guys that have helped lead to that high number and for good reason. Aaron Judge (173 wRC+) and Gary Sanchez (130 wRC+) will lead this lineup in the series just like they did all season long.

But don’t forget about the other bats that the Cleveland rotation will have to deal with. Didi Gregorious, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Chase Headley, Starlin Castro, and Jacoby Ellsbury all finished with wRC+ above 100 and fWAR greater than 1.5. Be on the lookout for all of these powerful bats as the Bombers lived up to their name in 2017, leading all of baseball with 241 home runs.

While the talk of this Yankees team has been the offense, the squad’s pitching staff has been pretty stellar to boot. As a team, they sit at second in the American League with a 3.75 ERA and third in the American League with a 3.88 FIP. The team has announced that Sonny Gray will throw game one, with CC Sabathia in game two, followed by Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino to round out games three and four. Each pitcher has been good, but not great throughout the season, and looks to be over-matched by a very powerful Indians lineup.

The strength really lies in the Yankees bullpen. If the rotation is able to pitch to keep the team in games and within a couple runs, the likes of Chad Green (1.75 FIP), Aroldis Chapman (2.56), Dellin Betances (3.22), David Robertson (2.10), and Tommy Kahnle (2.30) will provide multiple lock-down innings for the club.

 

Cleveland Indians – 102-60 (1st AL Central)

The Indians came into 2017 as the defending American League representative in the World Series. After a very successful season last year, the expectation was for them to be even better this season and they have met and even exceeded those expectations.

Owners of 102 wins and a win streak that went on for an insane 22 games in the second half of the season, an American League record, the Indians come into the Postseason as the favorite to win the World Series at 25% odds.

After being one of the more successful lineups in baseball in 2017, Cleveland added the former Toronto Blue Jay Edwin Encarnacion to the batting order to make opposing pitchers’ jobs even more difficult. The Indians sit at third best in baseball with a wRC+ of 107 with Jose Ramirez, Encarnacion, Austin Jackson, Lonnie Chisenhall, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, and Michael Brantley all with wRC+ above 110.

The Indians have a lineup that is able to compete with the Yankees lineup in terms of power and overall ability. Expect the batting orders to be a bit of a wash, with a slight advantage in favor of the experience and depth of the Indians.

Where there seems to be a very clear advantage is in the starting rotation for Cleveland. Potential Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber is the stud of the rotation, although he will not throw until game two, with Cleveland’s other big man in Carlos Carrasco and his 3.10 FIP going in game three. Game one will be started by drone enthusiast Trevor Bauer, with Josh Tomlin slated for game four of the series.

With the Yankees very strong bullpen, Cleveland will need to counter with an impressive pen of their own and just like last year, they will have a three headed monster coming in to close out ballgames. Andrew Miller will of course be the headliner with his 1.99 FIP, joined by Bryan Shaw (2.96 FIP) and Cody Allen (3.19 FIP).

 

Players to Watch In The ALDS

Both squads have some star power on their rosters and hopefully we get to see some special things from guys on both teams. Here is who to keep an eye on while you watch the ALDS.

Aaron Judge

The soon to be named AL Rookie of the Year and potential AL MVP, the Judge broke the rookie record for most home runs in a season this year with 52 bombs. He tacked on yet another in the Wild Card game when he took Jose Berrios deep in the 4th inning. He will get his first taste of a Postseason series this weekend and will look to prove that he can continue his historic season and become a Postseason hero.

Corey Kluber

Kluber has put together yet another amazing season; one in which he will more than likely come home with a Cy Young award and some MVP votes to boot. He finished the season with 5 complete games, with 3 of them being shutouts and Tito Francona will look for Kluber to continue to go deep into games. Since June 1, Kluber has put up a stat line of 15-2, 1.62 ERA, 224 strikeouts, and 23 walks in 23 games. If he can go 6 or 7 innings of shutout ball like he has proven he can do, he will be able to turn the ball over to the three headed monster of a bullpen.

Francisco Lindor

One of the most entertaining players in Major League Baseball, Lindor will be a key component of the Indians lineup in this series. He hit .310/.355/.466/.820 in the Postseason last year and will really lengthen that Cleveland lineup if he is able to put up stats like that again in 2017. Expect Frankie to show up and perform now that the lights are shining bright.

Greg’s ALDS Series Prediction

As exciting as the Yankees have been this season and as good as it is for baseball to see them succeed, I think that Cleveland is just too tough of a match-up for New York. This Indians team might just be the most complete team in all of baseball this year and is my favorite to win the American League. I am taking the Indians in games two and three almost strictly based off of the starter match-ups (Kluber and Carrasco) and I think that the bats will carry the team to another win in the series.

Cleveland Indians Win ALDS In 4 Games