MLB Postseason Preview: New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians

New York Yankees Cleveland Indians Francisco Lindor

The Cleveland Indians will welcome the New York Yankees to Progressive Field for an opening-round best-of-three playoff series beginning today at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

The Indians were able to rebound from an eight-game losing streak earlier in the month to secure the fourth seed in the American League on the last day of the regular season. While the offense has been widely inconsistent, they were able to fall back on an excellent pitching staff to a 35-25 record. The Yankees showed early on why they were World Series favorites entering the year. However, they limped again to the finish line but were able to survive a horrid stretch of play to finish the season as the fifth seed with a record of 33-27, well below expectations.

Three Keys To Victory For The New York Yankees

Jump Out Early: The Yankees have the challenging task of hitting against this pitching staff. In order for the Yankees to move on in these playoffs, they will need to score runs early and get to that Indians bullpen with a lead. While the Indians’ bullpen is no laughter, you will have a much better time scoring runs after their starter is done. Assuming DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela do their job getting on base, the Yankees will need their big boppers going in scoring situations.

Starting Pitching Depth: While you should feel good with Gerrit Cole going in Game 1, the rest of the starting staff is questionable. Masahiro Tanaka has a career playoff ERA of 1.76 and threw seven scoreless innings against the Indians while facing elimination in Game 3 of the 2017 ALDS. However, Tanaka suffered a brutal concussion before the start of the season and has lost some effectiveness on his splitter. If there is a Game 3, the Yankees have a tough decision to make. Do they go with the experienced, but struggling J.A. Happ, or the young Deivi Garcia?

The Stars Need To Shine: The time for talk is over. The Yankees need to see some production out of their star players. Aaron Judge has had some big playoff moments, but Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Gleyber Torres need to prove something. While they are all relatively young, it’s time for the Yankees to come up clutch in the postseason. If the Yankees’ big offensive threats can’t show up this series, this will be another wasted year for them.

Three Keys To Victory For The Cleveland Indians

Stay Hot: The Indians finished the season strong thanks to a late MVP push from Jose Ramirez. While the offense has not been blisteringly hot, they have been able to make enough timely hits to climb up the rankings. The Indians’ offense is not entirely worthless, but they need Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana to return to their 2019 form. You cannot just hope that Ramirez or Franmil Reyes will be at the plate in crucial situations.

Don’t Wait Until The End Of The Game: In the past week, the Indians made several late-inning comebacks, including two walk-offs. While it doesn’t particularly matter how you win a game, you shouldn’t have to hope for another comeback victory. The starting pitching will do enough for you to always be in the game, but the offense needs to help their starters out. You never know when the Yankees will have a monstrous inning.

Win Game One: It is going to be tough to score runs against Cole in game one. However, the Triple Crown winner, and likely Cy Young winner, Shane Bieber will be on the mound. Bieber will be followed by Carlos Carrasco and then Zach Plesac if needed. You cannot waste a Bieber start. The Indians will need the offense to be on early to give Bieber something to work with. You cannot just rely on him to shut out the Yankees. You need to score runs early.


This series could be considered a coin-toss. The Yankees have the far superior lineup, while the Indians’ pitching staff is the best in the big league. The question is what will break first; the Yankees’ hitting or the Indians’ pitching? While the Yankees underperformed this season, they were hurt for most of it. With everyone semi-healthy, they should be able to rely on their superior offense. The Indians were able to avoid any major injuries this season, but have dealt with uncharacteristic slumps from their star players.

With this most likely being Lindor and Santana’s last ride in Cleveland, I expect strong performances from both. If the Indians can hold onto a lead into the eighth inning, they should be fine with James Karinchak and Brad Hand to close out games. While the Yankees are 4-6 in their last 10, both teams are coming off hot streaks to close out the season. It may seem like the Yankees are back in the New York groove, but the simple fact is that Cleveland rocks.

Prediction: Cleveland Indians 2, New York Yankees 0

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