After overcoming an early three-run deficit against Minnesota in the AL Wild Card on Tuesday, the New York Yankees will be a tough out for anyone in the playoffs, even the 102-win Cleveland Indians.
Do the Yankees have enough to win the World Series?
“Yes, and the reason I say that is because of the bullpen,” MLB Network host Robert Flores said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “That’s how the game is played. I do give them a chance to beat Cleveland. I still think Cleveland will win that series, but I could see it going for five games even. But that bullpen puts them in play for a very deep run.”
Yankees righty Luis Severino allowed three runs on two homers in the top of the first inning Tuesday and was lifted after retiring just one batter.
Joe Girardi, however, didn’t bring in another starter. He went right to his bullpen, which responded with 8 and 2/3 innings of one-run ball.
“That’s just kind of how the game is played today,” Flores said. “When you consider the circumstances, it’s a one-game playoff so there is no ‘Well, we can save our bullpen for Game 2.’ No, that’s just the nature of the format of the current system, but also just the way the game is played now. Joe Girardi knows the strength of his ball club is his bullpen. Severino didn’t have it last night. That was obvious right from the get-go. So (Girardi) knew, ‘Look, I better get someone in here that can get some outs before things really spiral out of control.’ Minnesota’s bullpen isn’t as good as the Yankees’. That is clear. So I don’t think it was any sort of exotic move or anything out of the box that Joe Girardi did. He just knew what his strengths was and he decided to use it.”
While Chad Green and David Robertson, among others, deserve high praise for their relief efforts, Didi Gregorius’ three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning may have been the most important play of the night. It not only tied the game, but also served as a reset button for the Yankees, who never panicked.
“He’s been amazing for them,” Flores said of the 27-year-old shortstop. “It’s funny because when you take over for The Captain, the old adage is you never want to be the guy that replaces the guy. He had to step in and fill some big shoes and come in in a nearly impossible situation in terms of public perception and how the guy that he replaced will be remembered. But he’s been amazing for them. This is his best season. This is the best season of his career.”
The Yankees will face the Indians in Cleveland in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday. First pitch is slated for 7:38 p.m. ET.