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In Game 4 of the American League Division Series, Gerrit Cole dominated, Harrison Bader went deep and the New York Yankees held out by defeating the Cleveland Guardians.
So pretty much the same story as the Yankees’ 4-1 win in Game 1, only this time the score was 4-2 and the win helped to equalize the series and save their season.
Another good start from their $ 324 million ace was simply the first thing the AL East champions desperately needed after crushing streak losses in Games 2 and 3 put their season on the brink. . Cole delivered, becoming only the 11th Yankees pitcher to pitch at least seven innings with two or fewer runs allowed in a playoff elimination match.
The Yankees otherwise needed a big hit, like what Bader delivered with a home run by two points in the second inning.
What the Yankees really needed, however, was for their bullpen not to blow it up again the day after Clarke Schmidt, who, like Luis Severino and many others remarked, it’s not Clay Holmes: he failed to hold a two-point lead at the bottom of ninth in Race 3.
Yet, against all odds, there has been little or no problem as the Yankees have fulfilled their wish on this front as well. Holmes was able to throw a unique walk in the eighth and Wandy Peralta needed just seven pitches to retire the team in order in the ninth.
But while what the Yankees did on Sunday in Cleveland was no easy task, getting the ticket to the American League Championship Series in Game 5 on Monday will be the really hard part.
Gerrit Cole is no longer walking through that door
Images by Elsa / Getty
Though they missed their chance to secure their move to ALCS on Sunday in front of a friendly crowd at Progressive Field, the Guardians have at least one reason to be optimistic about the rebound at Yankee Stadium on Monday.
It breaks down like this:
- Gerrit Cole in the ALDS: 13.1 PI, 3 RE
- All other Yankees pitchers in the ALDS: 23.1 IP, 10 RE
This is a difference between a 2.03 ERA and a 3.86 ERA. The latter isn’t terrible if you’re the Yankees, but if you’re the Guardians it makes the vote “preferable”.
After throwing 110 pitches on Sunday, Cole is the only guy who absolutely, positively, won’t make an appearance for the Yankees on Monday. Even if fellow All-Star Nestor Cortes will be available in relief in two days of rest, Jameson Taillon will make his debut for the first time in his career.
In the context of the solid ERA of 3.91 it has set up in the regular season, this is not a worst case scenario. But with an ERA of 4.78 in the first inning during the regular season and a literally infinite ERA for the ALDS, Taillon as Yankees Game 5 starter is reminiscent of former manager Joe Girardi favorite phrase“That’s not what you want.”
One thing is certain is that the sooner Yankees manager Aaron Boone has to go to his bullpen in Game 5, the more complicated his job will become.
Holmes, Peralta, and Jonathan Loáisiga are basically the only three rescuers Boone can rely on right now, and at least one of them comes with constraints. That’s Holmes, who didn’t launch two consecutive days from September 13-14.
It was already out there that the sinking All-Star faced shoulder strain in late September, but the plot thickened on Sunday night:
For their part, the Guardians will go with the right Cival Aaron as their appetizer for Race 5. He only had an ERA of 4.92 for the season, but finished well with an ERA of 3.27 on four starts in September / October after returning from a forearm injury.
For Comments who did on Friday 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber is willing to pitch in Game 5. As all three last pitched in Game 2, the Guardians will also have a very well rested bullpen trio in Emmanuel Clase , Trevor Stephan and James Karinchak.
Together, all three have made a pass to an ERA of 0.00 with 14 strikeouts and only one hit across 10.2 innings this post-season.
Where are the Big Bats of the Yankees?
Photo by AP / David Dermer
“Thank goodness for Harrison Bader” is a thought no Yankees fan had between August 2 and September 19, and understandably since he wasn’t playing at all while the guy the team mistook for him was mowing down the batters for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Moving on to now, Bader looked like Joe DiMaggio’s next arrival in giving the Yankees an unexpected offensive lifeline with three home runs and four run points for the series.
New York Yankees @Yankees
Bader explosion 😤 pic.twitter.com/ZaFyYcTvVY
But as much as the Yankees would surely have taken more or less the same from Bader, there has to be a feeling in their clubhouse that he can’t do it all.
The Yankees frankly need more from their big boppers, especially those named Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres. Together, they are only 6 out of 44 in the series.
It is fair to note that Judge has not been as invisible in the last two games as in the first two. Going 0 out of 8 with seven strikeouts is not a way to live life. Go 2 out of 8 with a home run and only two strikeouts? Much better.
However, this is the guy who hit a record 62 home runs in the American League during the regular season.
Kudos to the Guardians for pitching it well, but that doesn’t make it any easier to shake the idea that Judge is still mired in the end-of-season crisis that transformed his quest for Roger Maris from a sure thing to a … buzzer. In total, Judge is only 12 out of 57 with three homers in the last 18 games.
The fact that the Yankees overtook the Guardians 15-13 alleviates some of the concern about the state of the latter’s attack, but only so much. If Torres, Stanton and especially Judge remain relatively silent in Game 5, the Yankees may need a miracle to secure a win.
Prediction and what awaits us in the AL playoffs
Game 5 looks like what the Yankees will win if they can hit early and often, while the Guardians have a better chance of winning a closer match by virtue of the Clase-Stephan-Karinchak trio. Neither result seems to us particularly more likely than the other.
So, it’s time to go out with the limbs. We will take the Yankees with an initial barrage that barely holds up in a 6-5 final.
Anyway, Yankee Stadium’s first launch is scheduled for 7:07 PM ET and will be televised by TBS. The winner of Game 5 will advance to the American League Championship Series, where the Houston Astros are already waiting after wiping out the Seattle Mariners.
Game 1 will be in Houston on Wednesday.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball referenceFanGraphs and Baseball Savant.