The regular season has come to an end and the American League has two teams that no one thought would be in playoff contention this year battling for a spot in the Division Series.
In the six games played against each other in the regular season, the New York Yankees are 4-2 against the Minnesota Twins and have outscored them 27-19 in those contests. Minnesota is the first team in baseball history to make the playoffs after losing 100 games the previous season while the Yankees have won at least 91 games for the first time since 2012 when they won 95.
Pitching Matchup: Ervin Santana (RHP) vs Luis Severino (RHP)
Ervin Santana has been the ace for the Twins right from the start of the season. Santana finished the season with a 16-8 record and a 3.28 ERA, his best posting since 2013, and held the Cleveland Indians scoreless through five innings in his last start. He has held the Yankees to a .233 average in 2017, only giving up one home run in one game. Santana is also not the type of pitcher who will overpower the Yankees. He relies on soft contact, something that the Yankees are used to when C.C. Sabathia pitches.
Contrastingly, Luis Severino will get the ball for New York in a season where he has emerged as the team's ace by overpowering the opponent. Severino had a great season for the Bronx Bombers in going 14-6 with a sub-three ERA (2.98) in 193.1 innings, putting himself in the American League Cy Young discussion. Severino has only had one career start against the Twins, a game where he allowed three runs in just three innings. Despite that bad game, Severino posted a 2.10 ERA in September. His repertoire includes a hard fastball which is consistently around 96-97 MPH, a sharp slider, and an improved changeup.
|Twins Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-base Percentage|
|Brian Dozier, 2B||34||.269||.357|
|Joe Mauer, 1B||7||.305||.384|
|Jorge Polanco, SS||13||.256||.313|
|Eddie Rosario, LF||27||.290||.328|
|Byron Buxton, CF||16||.253||.314|
|Max Kepler, RF||19||.243||.312|
|Eduardo Escobar, 3B||21||.254||.309|
|Jason Castro, C||10||.242||.333|
|Robbie Grossman, DH||9||.246||.361|
|Yankees Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-base Percentage|
|Brett Gardner, LF||21||.264||.350|
|Aaron Judge, RF||52||.284||.422|
|Gary Sanchez, C||33||.278||.345|
|Didi Gregorius, SS||25||.287||.318|
|Starlin Castro, 2B||16||.300||.338|
|Greg Bird, 1B||9||.190||.288|
|Aaron Hicks, CF||15||.266||.372|
|Jacoby Ellsbury, DH||7||.264||.348|
|Todd Frazier, 3B||27||.213||.321|
Who's Hot and Who's Not
Aaron Judge finished the month of September with 15 home runs and 32 RBIs while hitting .310 after a slow August. His hot streak kept the Yankees right in the conversation for the American League East as he carried the team's offense in September. Judge has gotten hot at the right time for the Yankees who, as a whole, are coming into the postseason hot after winning 20 games in September.
Minnesota's Miguel Sano, however, was just activated off the disabled list to get to face live pitching prior to the postseason. Despite being one of the most dangerous bats in the Twins' lineup, Sano only hit .200 in the three games he played and struck out once in each of them. With his struggles off the disabled list and his balky shin still not at 100 percent, Sano will likely come off the bench to start the Wild Card game.
Brett Gardner is also one to watch as he has a .412 batting average in 17 at-bats against Santana, which leads the Yankees. Gardner finished the year strong and has been a spark plug for the team at the top of the order. Greg Bird also has two career home runs off Santana and his hot September has forced the team to put him on the postseason roster.
The Twins have only seen Severino one time since Severino has been in the league with Joe Mauer (1) and Jorge Polanco (2) having driven in runs against the Yankee ace.
Prediction: Yankees 4 Twins 1
With the Yankees having home field advantage and the fact that they have had one of the best home records in baseball, they will come out on top. Luis Severino will give the Yankees six solid innings allowing just one run. Chad Green, David Robertson, and Aroldis Chapman will close the deal for the Yankees. Santana will give the Twins five innings of two-run ball.
Where to watch
Game time is scheduled for 8:00 PM ET on ESPN and MLB.TV for out of market subscribers.