October baseball is officially here and the first game of the MLB Playoffs will take place in Yankee Stadium as the Yankees host the Wild Card Game against the Minnesota Twins. The pitchers slated for this 1 game series are Luis Severino for the Yankees and Ervin Santana for the Twins.
After getting swept by the Yankees two weeks ago, the Twins are looking to come out on the winning end of this one. The Twins will need to rely on their offense in this game as Santana has struggled to keep runs off the board since the All Star Break. In the 15 games since the All Star Break, Santana has allowed at least 1 run to score in all except for 2 and has allowed 2+ runs to score in 12 of those 15 starts. Fortunately for the Twins, those 2 games in which he allowed no runs were both in the second half of September.
The Twins offense has been hot throughout the month of September, failing to score at least 2 runs in just 2 games (One of those against the Yankees) while scoring 4+ runs in 16 of the team’s final 29 games of the season.
The Twins’ offense will be a major factor as the Yankees go with Severino. Severino has been pitching great through the month of September, allowing fewer than 5 hits in each of his 5 starts. Severino has struck out a combined 38 batters in 30 innings in those 5 starts while allowing 1 or 0 runs in 3 of those 5 starts. The only bad start that Severino had in the final month of the season, was a 71 pitchnouting in which he allowed 5 hits and 3 runs in just 3 innings pitched. That game just happens to have been against the Twins.
While the Twins offense has been hot through September, the Yankees have been on fire. In their final 29 games, the Yankees have scored 5+ runs in 19 games and 9+ in 7 of those. Aaron Judge seems to have found his swing again after suffering through a lengthy slump earlier in the season. Judge had a horrible August in which he posted a .185 batting average with 41 strikeouts and just 3 homeruns and 7 RBI. However, Judge finished the season strong by batting a solid .311 in September with 15 homeruns, 32 RBI and a more respectable 32 strikeouts. If Judge can carry this momentum into the Playoffs then Santana and the Twins better watch out.
Though, Santana’s playoff experience may help keep this game close in the early innings, I see the Yankees offense overwhelming the Twins’ pitcher. Severino will have his last outing with the Twins on his mind as he takes the mound for the first time in a playoff situation. He may have some control issues early on, but has the strikeout potential to keep the threat at bay before settling into his groove. Severino will hand the game off to the bullpen with a slight lead and the dominant bullpen will lock it down to secure a date with the Indians in the ALDS.