2018 ultimate MLB playoff preview — Odds for every matchup and more

MLB


The New York Yankees didn’t win the division, but it was the most wins for the franchise since the 2009 World Series championship and their first back-to-back playoff appearances since 2011-12. With 267 home runs, they set a single-season record — even as Gary Sanchez struggled and Aaron Judge spent nearly two months on the DL. Rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar had big debut seasons with 20-plus home runs and ranking 1-2 among rookies in RBIs. Giancarlo Stanton hit 38 home runs … which means he didn’t hit 59.

WHERE THEY STAND

World Series odds

Odds To Beat

The Yankees head into the postseason a little banged up, with Judge coming back from the chip fracture in his wrist and Didi Gregorius attempting to play with a cartilage tear in his right wrist. On the positive side, as postseason strategy shifts to relievers getting a higher percentage of innings, the Yankees have the bullpen depth to pull off a run to the title.

Good news if they play

The Brewers

The Yankees had a big home/road differential in the power department, taking advantage of the short right-field dimensions at Yankee Stadium. Like Yankee Stadium, the ball flies at Miller Park, and the Yankees’ power hitters would love to hit there in the World Series.

Bad news if they play

The Astros

The Yankees gave them a run in last year’s ALCS, but here’s an interesting stat: The Yankees were 11th in the majors in OPS against fastballs in the upper half of the zone, but second against fastballs in the lower half of the zone. The Astros love to throw four-seamers up in the zone (sixth-highest rate in the majors in fastball percentage in the upper half).

starting pitcher rankings

Scale of 1-32 based on top four starters for each postseason team.

  • 9

  • Masahiro
    Tanaka
  • 10

  • J.A.
    Happ
  • 19

  • Luis
    Severino

Severino was as dominant as any pitcher in baseball in the first half with 14 wins, a 2.31 ERA and 144 K’s in 128.1 innings, but he fell apart in the second half as his ERA ballooned over 5.00, and he’s lost his grip as staff ace. Tanaka, meanwhile, was much better in the second half, curbing the home run issues that plagued him in the first half. Happ came over from the Blue Jays and went 7-0, 2.69 in 11 starts as one of the best trade pickups. The old warhorse CC Sabathia had another solid season, although look for quick hooks with him (even during the regular season, he went to 100 pitches just four times).

X FACTOR

Aaron Judge

That’s how many home runs he hit in 41 at-bats after returning from the wrist injury Sept. 18. The Yankees need him to get on base from that second spot in the lineup — and a few home runs would be nice as well.

BIG BAT

Giancarlo Stanton, DH

38 Number of home
runs this season

A pitcher he’d feast on

Dallas Keuchel, Astros

Stanton crushed lefties (1.036 OPS) more than righties (.793 OPS) and especially crushed sinkers/two-seamers (1.121 OPS in 120 plate appearances ending with sinkers). Small sample size, but he went 3-for-4 with two home runs off Keuchel.

One who’d give him trouble

Trevor Bauer, Indians

The book on Stanton is your classic approach to a right-handed power hitter: up and in, low and away. Stanton hit .169 against sliders. According to FanGraphs, Bauer’s slider was one of the best in the AL and his fastball was more effective than teammates Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger, who also have great sliders.



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