The New York Yankees played the Oakland A’s in the 2018 AL Wildcard game. Much of the game was a closely contested bout between two powerhouse type ball clubs. As both the A’s and Yanks are power hitting teams capable of blasting off. But in this countdown, we will look back at the player’s who impacted the game positively. And those who must step it up. Be sure to look at previous installments of this countdown.
1 Up- Aaron Judge
In the second Wildcard game of his career, the Yankees Aaron Judge would deliver just like he did against the Twins in 2017. With a big home run to lead off the scoring and another big double late in the game. Aaron Judge would show that the moment was not too big for the big man in the Bronx.
1 Down- Greg Bird
The most notable exclusion from the AL Wildcard roster was that of Greg Bird. Now let’s be very clear Bird has struggled mightily and should not have been on the AL Wildcard roster over any of the 25 men that were on the roster. Bird’s struggles are unknown at this point. Some say he is still hurt and trying to play through it. Some say that Bird isn’t the man we saw in his 2015 cameo. But that Greg Bird is just Nick Johnson 2.0. Whenever the reason may be, Bird has been replaced and more than likely will not find his name on the roster against Boston either.
2 Up- Luke Voit
Greg Bird was successfully replaced by Luke Voit. Since his re-emergence from the Minor League Voit has been playing like a man possessed. Voit’s been playing like a man that does not want to be sent back down to the minor leagues. Luke’s been playing like he knows the story of Lou Gehrig and Wally Pip. I’m not saying that Voit will turn into Gehrig (I’m not saying that at all.)
However, Voit has moved Bird off the block at first base and has made himself a permanent fixture in the Yankees lineup. And with Red Sox throwing potentially three lefty starters, Voit will see quite a lot of playing time in Boston as well.
2 Down- Zach Britton
Although it’s not a big collapse or even a larger enough sample size to truly judge but Britton has struggled with throwing strikes over his last few outings. In last night’s AL Wildcard game Britton would surrender the only runs by an otherwise shutdown night from Yankee pitchers. That being said I don’t worry about Britton, as the veteran seemed to figure it out after giving up the two-run shot to MLB’s leading home run hitter Khris Davis. Zach Britton will be a critical part of the Yankees pen against Boston to neutralize some of their more potent bats. And he will have to find his stride much quicker against the Red Sox.
3 Up- Luis Severino
After the utter debacle that was the 2017 AL Wildcard, Luis Severino needed a mulligan. Sevvy needed to prove that was a fluke and not a sign of things to come. And although Sevvy rebounded greatly during his later starts in the 2017 playoffs, questions were asked of the decision to start him in this year’s AL Wildcard. Sevvy however, would answer the call tremendously.
It is not easy pitching when the weight of the season is riding on your shoulders. But with the adversity that Luis faced this season during his struggles, it made him into a pitcher, not just a thrower. Sevvy and all the Yankee starters will be relied upon during the ALDS to keep the Yankees in the game. And if Sevvy pitches the way he did in the Wildcard game we have nothing to worry about this series.
3 Down- Miguel Andújar
The questions have been asked and will remain about Miguel Andújar’s defense. Miguel would make two throws that would cost Yankee pitching extra pitches thrown. The Yankees were able to escape without any damage but it still remains a problem. Anytime the ball is hit in Andújar’s direction a collective breath is taken by Yankee fans. And while Miguel may never be a gold glove caliber defender his defense must improve. Because anytime you give a great team like that of the Red Sox extra outs to work with they will make you pay.
B.O.L.O.- JA Happ
JA Happ was traded for by the Yankees to face the Boston Red Sox. Happ has plenty of postseason experience and has an impressive resumé that speaks for itself. But it’s what he’s done against Boston during his AL East tenure that was the catalyst for his acquisition by the Bronx Bombers. Happ will more than likely get the nod in game one of the ALDS, which would place him in line for a potential Game 5 if necessary as well.