With the regular season entering it's final week and the Yankees heading off to Tampa and Boston, it's time to look at what should happen in the wildcard game.
First of all, there is still the little issue of home field to be figured out. The Yankees are currently 1.5 games ahead of Oakland for the right to host the game. Obviously New York would like to stay home. Losing home field means a long flight to the west coast and should they win, a long one back to Boston.
Then there is the question of who should pitch the game for the Yankees. It's not just a case of lining someone up to pitch the game. If this goes down to the final game of the year the Yankees hands will be tied a bit. Their pitcher may be the guy who is up in the rotation. At this moment that looks to be Lance Lynn. Lynn has been a nice pick up and has helped to solidify the back end of the rotation. That said I do not want him starting the most important game of the year up to that point.
All things being equal I would like to see J.A. Happ be the starter. Tanaka gives up too many homeruns and Luis Severino just has not been consistent. To the contrary Happ has been the most consistent starting pitcher since he was acquired from Toronto in July.
There are other important questions to answer as well. Who plays the outfield? Who catches? Who is the DH? Let me give my wildcard lineup for the Yankees.:
Andrew McCutchen LF
Aaron Hicks CF
Aaron Judge RF
Didi Gregorius SS
Giancarlo Stanton DH
Miguel Andujar 3B
Luke Voit 1B
Gleyber Torres 2B
Austin Romine C
Noticebly absent are Brett Gardner and Gary Sanchez. Although a gamer Gardner simply has not had a good year for the Yankees. McCutchen is at least his equal in the field and his speed and ability to get on base gives him the edge. As for Sanchez, this choice was much easier. Sanchez just is not a good defensive catcher at this point in his career and in a do or die game, defense will be magnified. As far as his offense goes.....it has been missing most of the year. There have been flashes but he just has not done enough. I still believe he is a beast ready for big things, those things may have to wait until 2019.
How the game is going to go is anybody's guess. Both teams have potentially explosive offenses and solid relief pitching. This game will ultimately come down to who has home field. Even though New York has an edge now the remaining schedule favors the Athletics. Hopefully in about a week on a cool night in the Bronx we will see it play out. Remember, the Yankees deep run last year started with a wildcard game in the Bronx. Looking forward to another one.
Photo by FantasyAlarm.