The Yankees are aiming for the spot in the Wild Card. The problem that lies in the way is the one-game playoff that will come after a Wild Card spot.
The Yankees announced today that they will start Masahiro Tanaka if it comes down to a win-and-you’re-in playoff game, as they adjust the schedule to make this happen.
But looking at the season, can we really trust Tanaka, who is coming off a hamstring injury, to perform in a do-or-die game?
The list of starters has changed throughout the season, but the core starters now have given the Yankees more options.
The problem isn’t whether Tanaka can perform or not under pressure. The problem is, can Tanaka perform coming right off of an injury?
With C.C. Sabathia returning from a knee injury in almost vintage form, he is actually a smart option to start a one-shot game. His veteran presence shows just how he can handle the pressure on this type of stage. Heck, even Luis Severino has made a case for himself to start with his dominant performances since coming up to the Major Leagues in August.
Tanaka is 12-7 on the season with a 3.38 ERA. More importantly, his opponents are batting .220 against him this year.
Sabathia struggled throughout the season, but in his two starts in September, he has brandished a 2.25 ERA and struck out 21 batters. His average against is .205 in these two appearances as well.
The rookie stud, Severino, has proven that he belongs in the big leagues, with ten games and a 2.77 ERA at that time span. And at Yankee Stadium, he has gone 3-2 with a .237 BAA.
Looking at these two, Sabathia and Severino both have higher ERAs at home. If the Yankees can claim the top spot in the Wild Card, they will host the do-or-die game on October 6th, just two days before the ALDS is scheduled to begin.
Comparing the three options here (with Nasty Nate Eovaldi out of the questions, as he was shut down for the final two weeks of the season), Tanaka is the best choice.
With a 7-4 record at home, Tanaka has a 3.50 ERA, but he also has 75 strikeouts at Yankee Stadium. He is the wise option for a home game that needs to be won.
Now, pitching is one thing, but offense is another. If Tanaka is to pitch, he will need support from a slumping Yankees’ offense.
But that is a whole other issue. For now, with pitching all set, the Yankees just have to get to the Wild Card game first.
And once they do, they’ll let Tanaka take care of it.