It’ll be a rematch of last year’s ALDS when the New York Yankees visit the Cleveland Indians on Friday. The teams have split the first two games of the four-game set, and the Cleveland Indians are -108 over the New York Yankees on Saturday.
Despite being 29 games over .500, the Yankees need to head into the all-star break on a high note. They’ve fallen 3.5 games behind Red Sox in the AL East amidst Boston’s recent 10-game winning streak. The Yankees don’t want to fall any further behind and give the Red Sox more breathing room atop the division.
Cleveland, meanwhile, is sitting comfortably atop the AL Central, 7.5 games ahead of the Twins. They have the fewest wins of any division leader in baseball and don’t appear to be on the same level as the Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros. The Indians have also lost five of their last seven games, so they’d like to break out of their funk before the break.
C.C. Sabathia will start for the Yankees on Saturday. It’s easy to forget, but he spent the first eight and a half years of his big league career with the Indians. He’s hoping the familiar surroundings will help get him back on track after a subpar outing his last time out. Of course, that could just be an aberration, as he was excellent throughout the month of June.
When Sabathia faced the Indians at Yankee Stadium in early May, he tossed six shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out seven. However, replicating that performance against the likes of Francisco Lindor, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Ramirez won’t be easy. Both Lindor and Ramirez have had great success against Sabathia in their careers, and Ramirez, in particular, is scorching hot right now, posting an OPS of 1.289 over his last seven games.
A True Test
Of course, the Yankees also have a difficult lineup for Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger to face. In 18 starts this season, Clevinger is 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA. However, he’s been knocked around a little in his last couple of starts against the A’s and Reds. If he can’t get things turned around quickly, New York’s lineup could have a field day with him.
That being said, Clevinger allowed two runs on just one hit over 7.1 innings when he opposed the Yankees in May. That should give him the confidence to do it again, especially with the Yankees a little short-handed with Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez on the DL. However, the Yankees have been getting some serious production from Brett Gardner and Greg Bird lately. Those two have combined for six home runs and 23 RBI’s over the past week, giving New York plenty of ways to hurt Clevinger.
The Thinnest of Margins
After Cleveland’s 6-5 win on Friday, this should be another tight game. But considering Cleveland’s recent swoon and their troubled bullpen, the slight edge has to go to the Yankees, who are still the better team. Bet on the New York Yankees as the underdog in this game on Saturday night.