The New York Yankees season did not go as planned. Despite being one of the odds-on early World Series favorites, the Yankees did not play as such. To say the least, their season looks a bit like a roller coaster ride. After starting 16-6, the Yankees then went 5-15, 10-0, and stumbled to 2-6, finishing with a 33-27 record. Injuries and inconsistent performances once again defined the team. Not exactly what the organization and fans envisioned when the season began.
The Yankees have drawn the Cleveland Indians in the first round of the 2020 playoffs. In order to get past the first round and beyond, the Yankees will need to play at their best. Several elements will play a major role in the Yankees’ success. Here is a look at the two biggest X-factors for the New York Yankees in this year’s playoffs.
New York Yankees Two Playoff X-Factors
The Big Bat
Once again, the Yankees were without their highest-paid slugger for most of the season. In fact, Giancarlo Stanton only appeared in 23 games this season, contributing 19 hits with four home runs and 11 RBI. Despite starting the season on a tear by going 8-for-19 with two doubles, two home runs, and six RBI in July, injuries once again cut into Stanton’s season. He missed the majority of August and didn’t return to the lineup until September 15th.
Even with the regular season woes, Yankee fans can forgive Stanton if he shows up in the playoffs. However, Stanton’s playoff history has not been impressive. In the 2018 playoffs, Stanton hit .238 with only five hits, one home run, and a single RBI. 2019 wasn’t much better when Stanton hit .231 with six hits, two home runs, and four RBI. His 2019 performance is perhaps most remembered for the fact that he only appeared in five games as he missed the final four ALCS games against the Houston Astros due to a right quad strain.
If the Yankees hope to have any sustained playoff success this year, Stanton will have to play and perform well. Should the slugger live up to his potential, he’ll be a nightmare for opposing pitchers.
Obviously, Gerrit Cole is getting the ball in Game One, and Masahiro Tanaka will take the bump in Game Two. Cole is the current Yankees ace and Tanaka’s playoff prowess is well known. Cole’s career playoff line is 6-4 with a 2.60 ERA and 78 strikeouts. Even more impressive is Tanaka as his line is 5-3 with a 1.76 ERA and 37 strikeouts. It is safe to say that the Yankees can count on both of these guys showing up in the playoffs. However, after those two, there is a question mark.
At one point, Yankees rookie hurler Deivi Garcia was making a case to be the third guy in the playoffs. He finished the season 3-2 with a 4.98 ERA and 33 strikeouts. But, he is only 21, and despite an impressive debut, should not be counted on in a playoff scenario with only six total starts under his belt.
The more likely scenario is J.A. Happ getting the ball for game three. Happ got off to a rocky start this year, pitching only 12.2 innings in his first three games while giving up nine runs, four home runs, and only striking out five. Despite the rough start, Happ came on late, pitching 36.2 innings in his last six starts while giving up only ten runs and striking out 36. Happ is a veteran with playoff experience. If the Yankees hope to advance, they will need Happ to stay solid and be a guy they can lean on after Cole and Tanaka.
Tonight, the Yankees face the Indians in the opening round of the 2020 playoffs. Although New York backed into the postseason, they have a chance to complete the journey and hang another championship banner. For that to happen, both Stanton and Happ will have to play to their potential. Should both get hot at the right time, the Yankees will once again be a formidable and scary opponent.
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