It’s the beginning of the Division Series. The youngest team in the postseason and red-hot Cleveland Guardians will head to the Bronx to face the New York Yankees. It’s their fourth ALDS matchup since 1997. Every time these two ball clubs have faced each other in the playoffs, it would take every 10 years (1997, 2007, 2017), but now it’s five years later, in 2022. It’s payback time for the Guardians, especially for their skipper Terry Francona.
Indians/Guardians beat the Yankees in 1997 and 2007, but losing in 2017 is still fresh in the mind of many people, especially Terry Francona.
When I read the Baseball Digest magazine a few months ago, Terry Francona said that losing to the Yankees in 2017 bothered him more than the 2016 World Series. He thought the 2017 team was more talented and prepared and blowing a 2-0 lead in the series didn’t sit well with him. The Guardians would love to redeem themselves this year. They have the opportunity to go back to the ALCS for the first time since 2016. Guardians also won’t forget how the Yankee fans treated center fielder Myles Straw the last time Cleveland was in the Bronx. So this adds more fuel to the fire to beat New York.
We shouldn’t focus so much on the regular season success of the Yankees over the Guardians. The Yankees are 5-1 this season against the Guardians and outscored them 38-14. The Yankees bullpen has a 0.89 ERA in the last 10 games. The Guardians bullpen has some weapons, too and has been the better overall team lately.
In addition, Cleveland has 119 stolen bases, which is third in majors this season. Speed is a big part of the Guardians’ game. They know how to put the ball in play and can beat you in many ways. It’s not about the long ball for them.
Cal Quantrill (15-5) will be on the mound for the Guardians against Gerrit Cole (13-8) in Game 1. Quantrill is 8-0 with a 2.21 ERA in his last 12 starts. Shane Bieber will pitch in Game 2 against Nestor Cortes and Tristan McKenzie in Game 3 against Luis Severino. Games 2 and 3 are more compelling matchups than Game 1.
I’m surprised the Yankees didn’t go with Nestor Cortes for Game 1 since he was their most consistent pitcher this season. But I guess Boone couldn’t resist going with the $324 millionaire dollar man. Cole is not trustworthy in the postseason, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the Guardians offense will approach their game plan against him. Guardians pitching coach Carl Willis will also need a game plan with Terry Francona. They need to figure out how to neutralize Aaron Judge.
The Guardians don’t have to worry about relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman. Manager Aaron Boone left Chapman off the roster because he missed the team’s Friday workout. General manager Brian Cashman fined Chapman. We might see the end of Chapman’s tenure with the Yankees since he will become a free agent this off-season. Oh yes, I can’t forget. Chapman was the one who gave up the game-tying home run to Rajai Davis in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.
Game 1 begins tonight at 7 p.m. EST. The Guardians must set the tone early on in the series. It’s going to come down to mostly pitching and defense. Can the Guardians continue to throw as great as they did in the series against the Rays? Will they slow down Judge and Stanton? Can the Yankees match the Guardians pitching? We shall find the answers to the questions this week.